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Cop talk: What’s the difference between robberies and burglaries?

Question: I hear on the news about burglaries and robberies. Sometimes, they seem to mean the same thing. What is a burglary and what is a robbery?

Answer: Minnesota law describes what these two offenses are. Minnesota State Statute 609.582 says that burglary is: “Whoever enters a building without consent and with intent to commit a crime.”

Minnesota State Statute 609.24 says simple robbery is: “Whoever, having knowledge of not being entitled thereto, takes personal property from the person or in the presence of another and uses or threatens the imminent use of force against any person to overcome the person’s resistance or powers of resistance to, or to compel acquiescence in.”

Minnesota State Statute 609.245 says that aggravated robbery means the person(s) is armed with or threatens the use of a dangerous weapon during a robbery.

Reading the legal terms shows the difference is who or what the item(s) are being taken from. If item(s) are taken from a building, or another crime is committed within that building, then the offense is burglary. If item(s) are taken from a person, then the offense is a robbery.

Simply put, if a person enters a building and commits a crime, this is a burglary. Entry could mean reaching through a window and taking something off a countertop. Robbery means taking something that belongs to someone, while that person is there and knows that you are taking the item from them. The item could be on that person or not.

The penalty for these offenses has a range, depending on the nature of the offense. For burglary, depending on the facts of the case, a person could face a fine of $3,000 to $30,000 and/or one year in prison up to 20 years in prison.

For robbery, again, depending on the facts of the case, a person could face a fine of up to $35,000 and/or up to 20 years in prison.

A reader might notice the and/or in these lines. The statute provides for a fine, prison time, or both, meaning the defendant could receive a substantial fine and substantial imprisonment for the same offense.

There are a number of steps that can be taken to reduce the likelihood of a burglary or robbery on your premises as well as information to be aware of if a robbery occurs.

If you would like to learn more about this subject, if you have a question you would like answered in Cop Talk, ask the Alexandria Police Department, or if you have other crime prevention and safety questions, please e-mail

The Alexandria Police Department and the Echo Press have teamed together to create Cop Talk, Ask the Alexandria Police Department.