For law enforcement, there is a difference between Robbery, Home Invasion, Burglary, Trespass and Theft. When you report a crime to 9-1-1 or a law enforcement agency, the language you use makes a difference.
When someone enters physical property, not his or her own, without permission. It could be a parking lot, a business, or somebody’s yard. If that person does not have permission to go there, or has been told not to return, the person is trespassing. That person can be arrested for trespassing.
When someone enters physical property, not his or her own, without permission, with the intent to commit a crime. The crime could be to take belongings from the property (i.e. theft), or against a person within the property (i.e. assault). This could be a residence (residential burglary), a place of business (commercial burglary), a detached storage shed or garage (also residential), or even a public storage unit or storage yard (also commercial).
It doesn’t matter if force is used to gain entry, if someone was home at the time (in the case of a residential burglary) and it doesn’t matter is something is stolen. The unlawful entry of the property with intent to commit a crime is burglary.
For the record, most residential burglaries occur during the day, (when people are away at work) and most commercial burglaries occur at night (when the site is more likely to be vacant).
Whenever any property is taken, that is theft. Shoplift (taking something from a store without paying for it), auto theft and auto accessory theft (car stereo/CD player) are examples of theft. One form of theft frequently happens when we go shopping and we leave our belongings (purse, backpack, wallet) unattended. While we’re busy looking on the bottom shelf for the least expensive oatmeal, someone has taken the purse or backpack, or taken something out of the purse or backpack (wallet, cell phone) without permission, or knowledge, or direct threat or actual use of force. No one implied a threat or used force to take it from you; no one entered your home or place of business to get it; it was there and they took it. That’s theft.
The physical taking of property from another individual by the use of force or the implied use of force.
A woman walking down the street when someone comes up from behind, grabs her purse off of her shoulder and runs away – that is a strong-arm robbery, better known as a purse snatch.
If a man is walking down the street and another person comes up to him and says, “give me your wallet,” while showing a knife or other weapon, that’s an armed robbery, whether the weapon was used or not.
The physical taking of another person’s property through force – or implied use of force – is robbery, whether a weapon is used or not. Use or implication of a weapon just helps us categorize the “type” of robbery.
Home invasion is the unauthorized entering of any inhabited dwelling, or other structure belonging to another and used in whole or in part as a home or place of abode by a person, where a person is present, with the intent to use force or violence upon the person of another or to vandalize, deface, or damage the property of another.
Whoever commits the crime of home invasion while armed with a dangerous weapon will be subject to enhanced penalties by law. When a person commits the crime of Home Invasion and there is someone under twelve years of age, over sixty-five years of age , or someone with a developmental disability in the home, that person will also be subject to enhanced penalties by law.