Illinois Property Crimes: Theft and Robbery

If you ever watch the news or skim local newspaper, you have probably heard reports of countless individuals who were arrested on suspicion of a wide variety of criminal offenses. When the crime in question involves the taking of someone else’s property , there are several charges that could be brought against the suspect. While many of them may sound similar to the average person, there are distinct differences between theft, robbery, and burglary in Illinois.

Property Crimes

Theft, robbery, and burglary are commonly considered types of property crimes because, for the most part, they involve the unauthorized taking of property belonging to another person. While an upcoming post will address how burglary can be a little bit different, theft and robbery charges may be brought against a person if law enforcement believes that he or she took or attempted to take someone else’s personal property.


Theft is perhaps the most basic of all property crimes and the charge may include a wide variety of circumstances and types of property. Illinois law defines theft as knowingly obtaining or exerting unauthorized or illicit control over another’s property either by direct taking, by deception, or by threat. Theft also includes obtaining control over property known or believed to have already been stolen.

There are varying degrees of theft charges which range from a Class A misdemeanor for the taking of property valued at less than $500 up to a Class X felony for large-scale operations involving property valued at over $1 million. The specific charges and associated penalties depend on many factors including:

  • The value of the property alleged to have been stolen;
  • How the property was stolen, including the use of deception;
  • The age of the victim;
  • The location of the alleged theft; and
  • The suspects prior criminal history.

It is important to note that Illinois law contains separate provisions for dealing with retail theft, including shoplifting and under-ringing of merchandise. Such charges are also based on the value of the property alleged to have been stolen, how it was taken, and the suspect’s history.


While theft can be as simple as walking up and reaching into an unattended purse or a coat pocket, the offense of robbery is decidedly different and often more serious. According to Illinois law, robbery is committed when an individual takes another’s property directly from the owner’s person or presence “through the use of force or by threatening the imminent use of force.” Robbery is, at minimum, a Class 2 felony, which may be elevated to a Class 1 felony based on the victim’s age or disability status or the location of the robbery.

Aggravated robbery—also a Class 1 felony—may be charged if the individual indicated he or she was carrying a weapon or if the victim was drugged by the suspect. If a weapon is actually present or used during a robbery, the offense will be considered armed robbery, a Class X felony. In any robbery where a firearm is shown, discharged, or causes serious injury or death, the resulting penalties will statutorily include an additional 15 years, 20 years, and 25 years to life in prison, respectively.

Facing Property Crime Charges?

If you or a loved one has been arrested and charged with robbery or any other theft-related offense, contact an experienced Will County criminal defense attorney . Call 815-740-4025 for a free consultation at the Law Office of Jack L. Zaremba today.

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