Ask a Trooper

Posted: Monday, July 30, 2001

Question: Is there a difference between robbery and burglary?

Answer: Most definitely, although the two words often are incorrectly used to mean the same thing.

Robbery is defined in A.S. 11.41.500 as taking or trying to take property from someone's control by using or threatening to use force. An example is walking into a convenience store, pointing a gun at the clerk, (or sticking your finger in your coat pocket and pretending to point a gun at the clerk), and demanding money. Another example is knocking someone to the ground and taking their wallet.

Burglary is defined in A.S. 11.46.300 as entering or remaining illegally in a building with the intent of committing a crime. An example of this would be breaking into that same convenience store after it is closed and attempting to steal some things. Note that the act of breaking in is a separate crime (criminal mischief) as is the act of taking things (theft).

Burglary also would apply if you were to hide in the store until after it closed with the intent of taking property, doing damage, etc.

As you can see, robbery is a crime against a person, while burglary is a property crime. That is why it makes no sense when people say that their house has been robbed.

If you have questions that you would like to ask a trooper, please send them to: Alaska State Troopers, 4060 Heath St., Homer, AK 99603. Or you can e-mail them to Chad_Goeden@ The Alaska State Troopers remind you to always wear your seat belt. It's the law.

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