In California, there are a great variety of different theft crimes, but they mostly fall under one of two general categories (even if they also fall under additional categories): grand theft or petty theft.
"Grand Theft" (PC 487) is the wrongful taking of property from another person when the value of said property is more than $950. "Petty Theft" (PC 484 and 488) applies when the property stolen is valued at or below $950. However, stealing a firearm will be grand theft even if the gun is worth less than $950.
When a person enters a building with an intent to steal items located inside, it is classed as "burglary." If an "inhabited dwelling" is entered to commit a theft, punishments are generally more severe than for entering a place of business. And "shoplifting" (PC 459.5), or entering a business to commit burglary while that business is open is treated less severely than if the commercial establishment were closed at the time of entry.
"Robbery" occurs when property is taken directly off the person of another, by force or by threat. This includes taking property from off a person's clothes or out of a container he/she is holding just as surely as out of a person's hands.
At Pasadena Criminal Attorney, we have many defenses we use against theft charges, such as: mistaken identity, false accusations, lack of intent to steal, and genuine belief that the property was your own. We also have well seasoned negotiation skills and can often get such plea bargain reductions as from grand theft to petty theft or from burglary to breaking and entering.