What is the Difference Between Larceny and Burglary?

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  • Written By: G. Wiesen
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 13 February 2020
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While the differences between larceny and burglary may be defined by the laws of a state or federal government, in general they tend to differ in how property is unlawfully taken by a person. Larceny typically refers to any kind of illegal taking of property by one person that belongs to another person, though it does not usually involve breaking into another person’s home or business. Burglary, on the other hand, is often defined as taking another person’s property through the act of breaking into the home or business of that person. Both larceny and burglary can be further defined and categorized into different forms by other laws in a region.

Larceny and burglary both tend to involve one person taking the property, either material goods or money, of another person illegally. They differ from crimes such as fraud or embezzlement in that they do not include the participation of the person who legally owns the property. These crimes can be committed by force or may occur when the owner of the property is not present and is therefore in no way connected to the crime. The major difference between larceny and burglary is that larceny does not typically involve breaking and entering into another person’s home or business, and burglary does.


This distinction between larceny and burglary is exemplified by how larceny is further defined in criminal codes. Larceny is often distinguished as either grand or petty, or petit, larceny, though these can sometimes be exchanged for the terms felony and misdemeanor. Grand or felony larceny usually involves the taking of items above a certain value; this sort of larceny is the more serious of the two types and can often have greater consequences. Petty or misdemeanor larceny tends to involve taking items of lesser value and so has less severe consequences.

Burglary, on the other hand, is not as often divided into crimes based on value, but commonly depends on the situation in which the burglary is committed. Since larceny and burglary differ in that burglary involves the breaking into and entering of another person’s property to steal something from the person, the severity of the crime can depend on factors other than the value of what is stolen. If a person is armed with a weapon while committing burglary, then the severity of the crime and any resulting punishment are often increased. The severity of a burglary charge may also depend on whether the property someone breaks into is a residence or a business.


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