Stealing, Theft and Robbery





Stealing, Theft and Robbery

People in any society experience some form of crime, hence the need for law and order. Some of the most common crimes in the world are stealing, theft and robbery. Although many people use the terms interchangeably, there are some differences between the three. Stealing refers to the act or process of taking something that belongs to someone else. Theft and robbery are the legal terms used to define the crime of stealing, though there is one main difference. Robbery involves violence or coercion in the process of taking something, while theft does not involve force. In fact, one may not realize till much later that they have been the victim of theft, and a perfect example of this is identity theft. Due to the violence involved, robbery is taken as a more serious crime than theft under the law. Stealing, theft and robbery are common occurrences in society. In examining this topic, some relevant areas include statistics, punishment under the law, effects of the crimes and preventive measures.

Statistics from The Pew Research Organization sheds some light on violent crimes such as robbery in the United States. Data shows that violent crimes have been on the decline since the 1990s, with a 51% decrease between 1993 and 2018, according to numbers from the FBI (Gramlich 1). The report also indicates that non-violent crimes such as motor vehicle theft, burglary and theft are far more common than violent crimes. Despite the steady decline in violent crimes, many Americans’ opinions do not reflect this. For example, a 2016 Pew Research poll found that 57% of registered voters at the time believed than rates of crime were higher than the year before, despite the FBI reports showing a double-digit decline. Stealing, theft and robbery fall under the category of property crimes, which have similarly been on the decline. For example, in the year 2017, robbery rates stood at roughly 99 robberies per 100,000 people, and this fell to 87 per 100,000 people in 2018 (Gramlich 2). This is according to data from the Federal Bureau of Investigations.

Despite the promising outlook on cases of theft and robbery, identity theft remains a primary area of focus as instances of identity theft have become more common. Identity theft is a crime where a person obtains another’s personal information such as their social security number, then uses this information to impersonate the person for various reasons such as to obtain a loan, or pay for goods. The number of identity fraud cases is on the rise, mainly due to the digitization of all areas of life. With people working from home, shopping and placing orders online, and filling out various forms over the internet, their information becomes an easy target for hackers and identity fraudsters. Children have especially become an easy target for identity theft. In 2018, the Bureau of Justice Statistics reported 14.4 million cases of identity fraud (BJS). Javelin Strategy & Research focused on cybercrimes and compiled a comprehensive report on identity fraud in the year 2019. Although numbers dropped from 16.7 million in 2017 to 14.4 million in 2019, consumers bore a heavier financial burden. For example, the out of pocket costs on the victims as a result of the crime doubled to $1.7 billion from 2016 to 2019 (Ahmed 21). Additionally, 3.3 million of the consumers who fell victim to identity fraud were found to be liable or partly liable for the crimes against them.

Americans remain the most likely victims of identity theft than people from any other country, with more than 791 million identities stolen in the year 2016 alone. Statistics from a Javelin poll give more insight into why this is the case. 60% of consumers report feeling that their information is safe when using public Wi-Fi networks, which makes them more vulnerable to attack. 43% of adults admitted to shopping online over public networks, and 33% of American adults also reported sharing passwords and account names with others (Zhang 55). A majority of small business, 52%, have no cyber protection investments as they do not believe they could be victims of attacks. One of the verified ways of increasing protection online is the use of a VPN, but 75% of customers still do not use it. Account takeovers are the most prominent form of identity fraud, where fraudsters access a person’s account and change their security information such as passwords. EMV-chip-based credit cards are mostly responsible for the decline in fraud as skimmers cannot copy them.

There are many reasons why people would engage in stealing, theft and robbery, the most prominent of which is material gain. Most thefts and robberies are motivated by financial gain. An excellent example of this is the case of identity theft, where account losses resulted in the loss of $5.1 billion in 2017 alone. Theft is an easy way to make money, especially in cases where the victims do not realize the crime immediately. Identity fraudsters can sell the information they steal in the deep web to criminals who want to use it for different things (Zou et al. 8). Material gain is also the primary motivation for violent robberies. This includes robberies on stores, banks and other commercial businesses. Robbers target cash and other valuable items from these premises. Criminals also engage in theft and robbery just because they can. Some hackers and identity thieves gain access to other people’s information to prove their skill and ability to get away with it.

To avoid falling victim to theft and robberies, there are different things that people can do. The law also protects people by punishing offenders, but the first step to protecting oneself is to be vigilant and proactive. The most critical step in dealing with the issue of theft and robbery is the awareness that anyone can be a victim. With this in mind, people should take care to protect themselves as much as they can. For example, homes and business premises should have alarms installed that one can access in case of any violent attacks. People should learn basic tactics on how to deal with robbers, such as compliance to avoid further injury or harm. On the issue of identity theft, people should improve their safety online by using VPNs to protect their information (Zhang 42). They should also avoid using public networks when sharing sensitive information, such as social security numbers or credit card information. Companies and business should also invest in protecting consumers’ information. The Equifax hack in 2016 led to the stealing of information of millions of Americans, which is a potential avenue for identity theft (Zou et al. 11). Companies should thus take adequate and proactive measures to protect their customers’ data as much as they can.

Under the law, robbery and theft are serious charges depending on the seriousness of the crime. Most states have divided robberies into categories such as simple, aggravated, first-degree or second degree. These categories dictate the punishment that an offender receives. In most cases, robberies are felonies that attract at least a one-year jail term. Punishment depends on the violence of the crime, the value of property stolen, the offender’s criminal record, among other factors. Identity theft carries charges similar to those of robbery, depending on whether the crime is classified as a misdemeanour or felony. Different states have different statutes for identity theft. For instance, Arizona classifies the trafficking in a stolen identity as a Class B felony. Having a record of such crimes of ‘moral turpitude’ can have a significant impact on an offender’s life. For example, a person with such a criminal record will usually have a hard time getting employed as these records show up in a standard background check. Theft and robbery also adversely affect victims of the crimes. They lose their valuable items, some of which may never be recovered. Victims of identity theft experience some financial losses as well as access to their personal information which opens them up to other problems. Being a victim of theft or robbery also comes with psychological effects such as paranoia, fear, and trauma (Golladay & Holtfreter 751).

In conclusion, stealing, theft and robbery are serious crimes ranging from petty offences to more serious ones. Some of the most common kinds of theft and robbery include identity theft, home invasions and motor vehicle theft. Statistics from the FBI and Bureau of Justice Statistics show the trend of crimes over the years, with a general downward trend in violent crimes. Identity theft is one of the biggest concerns for consumers as people shift to online activity such as shopping and banking for convenience. Anyone can be a victim of these crimes, and people should learn some necessary forms of defences. All kinds of crime are punishable by law, but individuals must take proactive measures to keep themselves and their property safe.

Works Cited

Ahmed, Syed R. Preventing Identity Crime: Identity Theft and Identity Fraud: An Identity Crime Model and Legislative Analysis with Recommendations for Preventing Identity Crime. BRILL, 2020.

Golladay, Katelyn, and Kristy Holtfreter. “The consequences of identity theft victimization: An examination of emotional and physical health outcomes.” Victims & Offenders 12.5 (2017): 741-760.

Gramlich, John. “5 Facts About Crime in the US.” Pew Research Organization. 17 October 2019., BUREAU OF JUSTICE. “IDENTITY THEFT.” (2018).

Zhang, Joe. “Holster with protection mechanism facilitating Holstering and unholstering and protecting against theft and robbery.” U.S. Patent No. 10,041,762. 7 Aug. 2018.

Zou, Yixin, et al. “” I’ve Got Nothing to Lose”: Consumers’ Risk Perceptions and Protective Actions after the Equifax Data Breach.” Fourteenth Symposium on Usable Privacy and Security ({SOUPS} 2018). 2018.

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