Theft, Robbery and Burglary: Key Differences and How to Prevent Them

Theft, Robbery and Burglary: Key Differences and How to Prevent Them

While they may be related, theft (unlawful taking of someone else's property), robbery (theft committed by using force or fear) and burglary (unlawful entering of a building with criminal intent) are technically 3 different crimes.

We'll cover the differences between the three in more detail below, along with how you can protect your business from them.

Want a free quote to better protect your business? Call us at 800.552.1111 or contact us online. Our security experts are ready to give you an on-site security inspection and provide the best commercial security system options for your business.


Also called larceny, theft is the unlawful taking of personal property—whether it happens at a home or business.

Sometimes, as is often the case in retail shrinkage, you may not even know about the theft until long after it happens.


Robbery is similar to theft, in that the perpetrator is illegally taking personal property, but differs in the way the property is taken.

Robbery is the crime of stealing personal property by using force, fear or threat of violence towards the victim.

For the crime to be classified as a robbery, the property must be taken directly from a person without their permission. The crime doesn't have to involve violence or injury, but the threat of violence or force and intent to keep the stolen property must be present to be considered a robbery.


Also called breaking and entering, burglary is the illegal entering of a building with the intent to commit a crime (often theft, but not always).

Burglars don't have to pick a lock or smash a window in the middle of the night to commit a burglary. They can enter through an unlocked door, or even unlock it themselves if they have a key during the day—so long as they don't have permission to enter and have the intent to commit crime.

Learn how to deter burglars in our blog "5 Tips Every Business Should Implement to Deter Burglars After Hours."

How to protect your business

To protect your business from theft, robbery and burglary, our security experts recommend installing at least one—better yet, a combination of—the following security systems:

  • Video surveillance
  • Alarm monitoring
  • Access control

We'll cover each system in more detail.

Video surveillance

Prominently placed security cameras can help reduce theft in retail stores. Cameras also deter burglars from terrorizing your business—and catch the ones they don't deter.

With commercial security camera system, you can:

  • Monitor your business 24/7 with a variety of indoor and outdoor cameras
  • View live surveillance video on your smartphone or other device
  • Access video recordings from select cameras on specific days and timeframes

Alarm monitoring

Security alarm monitoring takes video surveillance a step further by calling for help when your business needs it.

To give you an idea of how commercial alarm monitoring systems work, we'll walk you through our alarm monitoring process at Ackerman Security:

  • Your security system detects a burglar and automatically alerts our round-the-clock monitoring station.
  • A security agent reviews the live surveillance footage to see what triggered the alarm.
  • We call local authorities for help and alert you—within 45 seconds!

You can also add fire and gas monitoring to better protect your business and employees.

Access control

Theft and burglary aren't always committed by strangers in the middle of the night. Sometimes, the crime can be committed to people who access your building regularly.

With a commercial access control system, you get:

  • Complete visibility into who enters and exits your building (or buildings if you have multiple locations)
  • Remote access to lock and unlock any or all doors in your building from your smartphone or smart device
  • Credentialed access by customizing when and where employees and guests can access your building
  • Full integration with your security system

Want to know more about access control? Check out our blog "What Is Access Control and Why Does Your Business Need It?"

Need a quote for a commercial security system?

Call 800.552.1111 or contact us online for a free quote.

Ackerman Security has been protecting Atlanta businesses for more than 50 years. Our security experts are ready to assess your business to give you a commercial security system customized to your unique needs. We're here to help protect your business and employees from theft, robberies, burglaries and more 24/7.