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Theft

Theft

Overview
In common usage, theft is the illegal taking of another person's property
Property
Property is any physical or intangible entity that is owned by a person or jointly by a group of people or a legal entity like a corporation...

 without that person's permission or consent
Consent
Consent refers to the provision of approval or agreement, particularly and especially after thoughtful consideration.- Types of consent :*Implied consent is a controversial form of consent which is not expressly granted by a person, but rather inferred from a person's actions and the facts and...

. The word is also used as an informal shorthand term for some crime
Crime
Crime is the breach of rules or laws for which some governing authority can ultimately prescribe a conviction...

s against property, such as burglary
Burglary
Burglary is a crime, the essence of which is illicit entry into a building for the purposes of committing an offense. Usually that offense will be theft, but most jurisdictions specify others which fall within the ambit of burglary...

, embezzlement
Embezzlement
Embezzlement is the act of dishonestly appropriating or secreting assets by one or more individuals to whom such assets have been entrusted....

, larceny
Larceny
Larceny is a crime involving the wrongful acquisition of the personal property of another person. It was an offence under the common law of England and became an offence in jurisdictions which incorporated the common law of England into their own law. It has been abolished in England and Wales,...

, looting
Looting
Looting —also referred to as sacking, plundering, despoiling, despoliation, and pillaging—is the indiscriminate taking of goods by force as part of a military or political victory, or during a catastrophe, such as during war, natural disaster, or rioting...

, robbery
Robbery
Robbery is the crime of taking or attempting to take something of value by force or threat of force or by putting the victim in fear. At common law, robbery is defined as taking the property of another, with the intent to permanently deprive the person of that property, by means of force or fear....

, shoplifting
Shoplifting
Shoplifting is theft of goods from a retail establishment. It is one of the most common property crimes dealt with by police and courts....

 and fraud
Fraud
In criminal law, a fraud is an intentional deception made for personal gain or to damage another individual; the related adjective is fraudulent. The specific legal definition varies by legal jurisdiction. Fraud is a crime, and also a civil law violation...

. In some jurisdictions, theft is considered to be synonym
Synonym
Synonyms are different words with almost identical or similar meanings. Words that are synonyms are said to be synonymous, and the state of being a synonym is called synonymy. The word comes from Ancient Greek syn and onoma . The words car and automobile are synonyms...

ous with larceny
Larceny
Larceny is a crime involving the wrongful acquisition of the personal property of another person. It was an offence under the common law of England and became an offence in jurisdictions which incorporated the common law of England into their own law. It has been abolished in England and Wales,...

; in others, theft has replaced larceny. Someone who carries out an act of or makes a career of theft is known as a thief. The act of theft is known by terms such as stealing, thieving, and filching.

Theft is the name of a statutory offense in California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

, Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, England and Wales
England and Wales
England and Wales is a jurisdiction within the United Kingdom. It consists of England and Wales, two of the four countries of the United Kingdom...

, Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland is one of the four countries of the United Kingdom. Situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland, it shares a border with the Republic of Ireland to the south and west...

, the Republic of Ireland
Republic of Ireland
Ireland , described as the Republic of Ireland , is a sovereign state in Europe occupying approximately five-sixths of the island of the same name. Its capital is Dublin. Ireland, which had a population of 4.58 million in 2011, is a constitutional republic governed as a parliamentary democracy,...

, and Victoria
Victoria (Australia)
Victoria is the second most populous state in Australia. Geographically the smallest mainland state, Victoria is bordered by New South Wales, South Australia, and Tasmania on Boundary Islet to the north, west and south respectively....

.

The actus reus
Actus reus
Actus reus, sometimes called the external element or the objective element of a crime, is the Latin term for the "guilty act" which, when proved beyond a reasonable doubt in combination with the mens rea, "guilty mind", produces criminal liability in the common law-based criminal law jurisdictions...

of theft is usually defined as an unauthorized taking, keeping or using of another's property which must be accompanied by a mens rea
Mens rea
Mens rea is Latin for "guilty mind". In criminal law, it is viewed as one of the necessary elements of a crime. The standard common law test of criminal liability is usually expressed in the Latin phrase, actus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea, which means "the act does not make a person guilty...

of dishonesty
Dishonesty
Dishonesty is a word which, in common usage, may be defined as the act or to act without honesty. It is used to describe a lack of probity, cheating, lying or being deliberately deceptive or a lack in integrity, knavishness, perfidiosity, corruption or treacherousness...

 and/or the intent to permanently deprive the owner or the person with rightful possession of that property or its use.

For example, if X goes to a restaurant and, by mistake, takes Y's scarf instead of her own, she has physically deprived Y of the use of the property (which is the actus reus) but the mistake prevents X from forming the mens rea (i.e., because she believes that she is the owner, she is not dishonest and does not intend to deprive the "owner" of it) so no crime has been committed at this point.
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Encyclopedia
In common usage, theft is the illegal taking of another person's property
Property
Property is any physical or intangible entity that is owned by a person or jointly by a group of people or a legal entity like a corporation...

 without that person's permission or consent
Consent
Consent refers to the provision of approval or agreement, particularly and especially after thoughtful consideration.- Types of consent :*Implied consent is a controversial form of consent which is not expressly granted by a person, but rather inferred from a person's actions and the facts and...

. The word is also used as an informal shorthand term for some crime
Crime
Crime is the breach of rules or laws for which some governing authority can ultimately prescribe a conviction...

s against property, such as burglary
Burglary
Burglary is a crime, the essence of which is illicit entry into a building for the purposes of committing an offense. Usually that offense will be theft, but most jurisdictions specify others which fall within the ambit of burglary...

, embezzlement
Embezzlement
Embezzlement is the act of dishonestly appropriating or secreting assets by one or more individuals to whom such assets have been entrusted....

, larceny
Larceny
Larceny is a crime involving the wrongful acquisition of the personal property of another person. It was an offence under the common law of England and became an offence in jurisdictions which incorporated the common law of England into their own law. It has been abolished in England and Wales,...

, looting
Looting
Looting —also referred to as sacking, plundering, despoiling, despoliation, and pillaging—is the indiscriminate taking of goods by force as part of a military or political victory, or during a catastrophe, such as during war, natural disaster, or rioting...

, robbery
Robbery
Robbery is the crime of taking or attempting to take something of value by force or threat of force or by putting the victim in fear. At common law, robbery is defined as taking the property of another, with the intent to permanently deprive the person of that property, by means of force or fear....

, shoplifting
Shoplifting
Shoplifting is theft of goods from a retail establishment. It is one of the most common property crimes dealt with by police and courts....

 and fraud
Fraud
In criminal law, a fraud is an intentional deception made for personal gain or to damage another individual; the related adjective is fraudulent. The specific legal definition varies by legal jurisdiction. Fraud is a crime, and also a civil law violation...

. In some jurisdictions, theft is considered to be synonym
Synonym
Synonyms are different words with almost identical or similar meanings. Words that are synonyms are said to be synonymous, and the state of being a synonym is called synonymy. The word comes from Ancient Greek syn and onoma . The words car and automobile are synonyms...

ous with larceny
Larceny
Larceny is a crime involving the wrongful acquisition of the personal property of another person. It was an offence under the common law of England and became an offence in jurisdictions which incorporated the common law of England into their own law. It has been abolished in England and Wales,...

; in others, theft has replaced larceny. Someone who carries out an act of or makes a career of theft is known as a thief. The act of theft is known by terms such as stealing, thieving, and filching.

Theft is the name of a statutory offense in California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

, Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, England and Wales
England and Wales
England and Wales is a jurisdiction within the United Kingdom. It consists of England and Wales, two of the four countries of the United Kingdom...

, Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland is one of the four countries of the United Kingdom. Situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland, it shares a border with the Republic of Ireland to the south and west...

, the Republic of Ireland
Republic of Ireland
Ireland , described as the Republic of Ireland , is a sovereign state in Europe occupying approximately five-sixths of the island of the same name. Its capital is Dublin. Ireland, which had a population of 4.58 million in 2011, is a constitutional republic governed as a parliamentary democracy,...

, and Victoria
Victoria (Australia)
Victoria is the second most populous state in Australia. Geographically the smallest mainland state, Victoria is bordered by New South Wales, South Australia, and Tasmania on Boundary Islet to the north, west and south respectively....

.

Elements


The actus reus
Actus reus
Actus reus, sometimes called the external element or the objective element of a crime, is the Latin term for the "guilty act" which, when proved beyond a reasonable doubt in combination with the mens rea, "guilty mind", produces criminal liability in the common law-based criminal law jurisdictions...

of theft is usually defined as an unauthorized taking, keeping or using of another's property which must be accompanied by a mens rea
Mens rea
Mens rea is Latin for "guilty mind". In criminal law, it is viewed as one of the necessary elements of a crime. The standard common law test of criminal liability is usually expressed in the Latin phrase, actus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea, which means "the act does not make a person guilty...

of dishonesty
Dishonesty
Dishonesty is a word which, in common usage, may be defined as the act or to act without honesty. It is used to describe a lack of probity, cheating, lying or being deliberately deceptive or a lack in integrity, knavishness, perfidiosity, corruption or treacherousness...

 and/or the intent to permanently deprive the owner or the person with rightful possession of that property or its use.

For example, if X goes to a restaurant and, by mistake, takes Y's scarf instead of her own, she has physically deprived Y of the use of the property (which is the actus reus) but the mistake prevents X from forming the mens rea (i.e., because she believes that she is the owner, she is not dishonest and does not intend to deprive the "owner" of it) so no crime has been committed at this point. But if she realises the mistake when she gets home and could return the scarf to Y, she will steal the scarf if she dishonestly keeps it (see theft by finding
Theft by finding
Theft by finding occurs when someone who chances upon an object which seems abandoned takes possession of the object but fails to take steps to establish whether the object is abandoned and not merely lost or unattended...

). Note that there may be civil liability for the tort
Tort
A tort, in common law jurisdictions, is a wrong that involves a breach of a civil duty owed to someone else. It is differentiated from a crime, which involves a breach of a duty owed to society in general...

s of trespass to chattels
Trespass to chattels
Trespass to chattels is a tort whereby the infringing party has intentionally interfered with another person's lawful possession of a chattel...

 or conversion
Conversion (law)
Conversion is a common law tort. A conversion is a voluntary act by one person inconsistent with the ownership rights of another. It is a tort of strict liability...

 in either eventuality.

Canada



Theft is dealt with by Part 9 of the Criminal Code of Canada
Criminal Code of Canada
The Criminal Code or Code criminel is a law that codifies most criminal offences and procedures in Canada. Its official long title is "An Act respecting the criminal law"...

 which is the part that covers property crime. Section 322 in Part 9 creates a general definition of theft, while other sections such as section 326 (which deals with the theft of gas, electricity and telecommunication services) define special kinds of theft. According to the general definition in section 322 a person steals a thing if he or she takes or converts it fraudulently, without colour of right and with intent to deprive the owner of it, either permanently or temporarily. For the purposes of punishment theft is divided into two separate offences by section 334 depending on the value and nature of the goods stolen. If the thing stolen is worth more than $5000 or is a testamentary instrument the offence is commonly referred to as Theft Over $5000 and is an indictable offence
Indictable offence
In many common law jurisdictions , an indictable offence is an offence which can only be tried on an indictment after a preliminary hearing to determine whether there is a prima facie case to answer or by a grand jury...

 with a maximum punishment of 10 years imprisonment. Where the stolen item is not a testamentary instrument and is not worth more than $5000 it is known as Theft Under $5000 and is a hybrid offence
Hybrid offence
A hybrid offence, dual offence, Crown option offence, dual procedure offence, or wobbler are the special class offences in the common law jurisdictions where the case may be prosecuted either summarily or as indictment...

, meaning that it can be treated either as an indictable offence or a less serious summary conviction offence, depending on the choice of the prosecutor. If dealt with as an indictable offence Theft Under $5000 is punishable by imprisonment for not more than 2 years and, if treated as a summary conviction offence, 6 months imprisonment, a fine of $2000 or both.

Republic of Ireland


Theft is a statutory offence, created by section 4(1) of the Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud Offences) Act, 2001
Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud Offences) Act, 2001
The Criminal Justice Act, 2001 updates and consolidates the law relating to dishonesty and fraud in the Republic of Ireland.The main sections of the statute include:*Theft and Related Offences...

.

Romania




By the Romania
Romania
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

n penal code for theft (furt) a person can face a penalty ranging from 1 to 20 years.

Degrees of theft:

A: Theft (one to twelve years)


When a person steals a thing, or uses a vehicle without permission and no aggravating circumstances apply.

B: Qualified theft (basically three to 15 years, but there can be special cases when the penalty range is from four to 18 years and even ten to 20 years)
  • Aggravating circumstances - three to 15 years: a) by two or more persons together b) by a person in possession of a gun or a narcotic substance c) by a masked or disguised person d) against a person who cannot defend his or herself e) in a public place f) in a public transportation vehicle g) during the night h) during a natural disaster i) through burglary, or by using an original or copied key j) stealing national treasures k) stealing official identity papers with the intention to make use of them l) stealing official identity badges with the intention to make use of them

  • Aggravating circumstances - four to 18 years: a) stealing petrol-based products directly from transportation pipes and vehicles or deposits b) stealing components from national electrification, telecommunication, irrigation networks or from any type of navigational system c) stealing a siren d) stealing a public intervention vehicle or device e) stealing something which jeopardises the safety of public transportation.

  • Aggravating circumstances - ten to 20 years: when the consequences are extremely grave and affect public institutions or the material stolen is worth over 200,000 RON
    Romanian leu
    The leu is the currency of Romania. It is subdivided into 100 bani . The name of the currency means "lion". On 1 July 2005, Romania underwent a currency reform, switching from the previous leu to a new leu . 1 RON is equal to 10,000 ROL...

     (Approximately US$80,000).

England and Wales


In England and Wales
England and Wales
England and Wales is a jurisdiction within the United Kingdom. It consists of England and Wales, two of the four countries of the United Kingdom...

, theft is a statutory offence, created by section 1(1) of the Theft Act 1968
Theft Act 1968
The Theft Act 1968 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It creates a number of offences against property in England and Wales.On 15 January 2007 the Fraud Act 2006 came into force, redefining most of the offences of deception.-History:...

, which provides:
A person is guilty of theft, if he dishonestly appropriates property belonging to another with the intention of permanently depriving the other of it; and "thief" and "steal" shall be construed accordingly.


This offence replaces the former offences of larceny
Larceny
Larceny is a crime involving the wrongful acquisition of the personal property of another person. It was an offence under the common law of England and became an offence in jurisdictions which incorporated the common law of England into their own law. It has been abolished in England and Wales,...

, embezzlement
Embezzlement
Embezzlement is the act of dishonestly appropriating or secreting assets by one or more individuals to whom such assets have been entrusted....

 and fraudulent conversion.

The marginal note to section 1 of the Theft Act 1968 describes it as a "basic definition" of theft.

Sections 2 to 6 of the Theft Act 1968 have effect as regards the interpretation
Statutory interpretation
Statutory interpretation is the process by which courts interpret and apply legislation. Some amount of interpretation is always necessary when a case involves a statute. Sometimes the words of a statute have a plain and straightforward meaning. But in many cases, there is some ambiguity or...

 and operation of section 1 of that Act. Except as otherwise provided by that Act, sections 2 to 6 of that Act apply only for the purposes of section 1 of that Act.
Appropriates

Section 3 provides:
See R v Hinks and Lawrence v Metropolitan Police Commissioner.
Property

Section 4(1) provides that:
Edward Griew said that this section could, without changing its meaning, be reduced, by omitting words, to:
Sections 4(2) to (4) provide that the following can only be stolen under certain circumstances:
  • Land or things forming part of land and severed from it (s. 4(2))
  • Mushrooms growing wild on any land, or the flowers, fruit or foliage of plants growing wild on any land (s. 4(3))
  • Wild creatures or the carcases of wild creatures (s. 4(4))


Intangible property

Confidential information and trade secret
Trade secret
A trade secret is a formula, practice, process, design, instrument, pattern, or compilation of information which is not generally known or reasonably ascertainable, by which a business can obtain an economic advantage over competitors or customers...

s are not property within the meaning of section 4.

The words "other intangible property" include export quotas that are transferable for value
Value (law)
Value within the context of law, particularly with respect to contracts, is a concept closely related, but not identical, to that of consideration....

 on a temporary or permanent basis.

Electricity

Electricity cannot be stolen. It is not property within the meaning of section 4 and is not appropriated by switching on a current. Cf. the offence of abstracting electricity
Abstracting electricity
Abstracting electricity is a statutory offence in England and Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.-England and Wales:This offence is created by section 13 of the Theft Act 1968:This section replaces section 10 of the Larceny Act 1916....

 under section 13.
Belonging to another

Section 5 "belonging to another" requires a distinction to be made between ownership, possession and control:
  • ownership is where a person is not legally accountable to anyone else for the use of the property:
  • possession is where a person is only accountable to the owner for the use of the property; and
  • control is where a person is only accountable to two people for the use of the property.


So if A buys a car for cash, A will be the owner. If A then lends the car to B Ltd (a company), B Ltd will have possession. C, an employee of B Ltd then uses the car and has control. If C uses the car in an unauthorised way, C will steal the car from A and B Ltd. This means that it is possible to steal one's own property.

In R v Turner, the owner removed his car from the forecourt of a garage where it had been left for collection after repair. He intended to avoid paying the bill. There was an appropriation of the car because it had been physically removed but there were two issues to be decided:
  • did the car "belong to another"? The garage had a lien
    Lien
    In law, a lien is a form of security interest granted over an item of property to secure the payment of a debt or performance of some other obligation...

     i.e. a "proprietary right or interest" in the car as security for the unpaid bill and this gave the garage a better right than the owner to possess the car at the relevant time.
  • what was the relevance of Turner's belief that he could not steal his own property? The defence of mistake of law
    Mistake of law
    Mistake of law is a legal principle referring to one or more errors that were made by a person in understanding how the applicable law applied to their past activity that is under analysis by a court. In jurisdictions that use the term, it is typically differentiated from mistake of fact...

     only applies if the defendant honestly believes that he has a right in law to act in the given way. Generalised and non-specific beliefs about what the law might permit are not a defence.

With the intention of permanently depriving the other of it

Section 6 "with the intent to permanently deprive the other of it" is sufficiently flexible to include situations where the property is later returned. For example, suppose that B, a keen football fan, has bought a ticket for the next home match. T takes the ticket, watches the match and then returns the ticket to B. In this instance, all that T returns is a piece of paper. Its value as a licence to enter the stadium on a particular day has been permanently lost. Hence, T steals the ticket. Similarly, if T takes a valuable antique but later repents and returns the goods, T has committed the actus reus
Actus reus
Actus reus, sometimes called the external element or the objective element of a crime, is the Latin term for the "guilty act" which, when proved beyond a reasonable doubt in combination with the mens rea, "guilty mind", produces criminal liability in the common law-based criminal law jurisdictions...

with the mens rea
Mens rea
Mens rea is Latin for "guilty mind". In criminal law, it is viewed as one of the necessary elements of a crime. The standard common law test of criminal liability is usually expressed in the Latin phrase, actus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea, which means "the act does not make a person guilty...

. The fact that T's conscience forces a change of mind is relevant only for sentencing
Sentence (law)
In law, a sentence forms the final explicit act of a judge-ruled process, and also the symbolic principal act connected to his function. The sentence can generally involve a decree of imprisonment, a fine and/or other punishments against a defendant convicted of a crime...

.

Alternative verdict

The offence created by section 12(1) of the Theft Act 1968
Theft Act 1968
The Theft Act 1968 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It creates a number of offences against property in England and Wales.On 15 January 2007 the Fraud Act 2006 came into force, redefining most of the offences of deception.-History:...

 (TWOC
TWOC
TWOC is an acronym standing for Taking Without Owner's Consent. Synonyms used by police in the UK include UTMV: Unlawful Taking of a Motor Vehicle, and TADA or TDA: Taking and Driving Away...

) is available an alternative verdict on an indictment for theft.

Visiting forces

Theft is an offence against property for the purposes of section 3 of the Visiting Forces Act 1952
Visiting Forces Act 1952
The Visiting Forces Act 1952 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. provides immunity against prosecution for certain offences in the courts of United Kingdom by members of visiting forces and, by virtue of the 1964 Act, international headquarters...

.

Mode of trial and sentence

Theft is triable either way
Either Way
"Either Way" is a song by The Twang, which was released as their second single under the B-Unique Records on May 28, 2007, and it is also the second single to be taken from the band's debut album Love It When I Feel Like This...

. A person guilty of theft is liable, on conviction on indictment
Indictment
An indictment , in the common-law legal system, is a formal accusation that a person has committed a crime. In jurisdictions that maintain the concept of felonies, the serious criminal offence is a felony; jurisdictions that lack the concept of felonies often use that of an indictable offence—an...

, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding seven years, or on summary conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months, or to a fine not exceeding the prescribed sum
Prescribed sum
The prescribed sum is the maximum fine that may be imposed on summary conviction of certain offences in the United Kingdom. In England and Wales and Northern Ireland, it is now equivalent to level 5 on the standard scale, which it predates...

, or to both.

Aggravated theft

The only offence of aggravated theft is robbery
Robbery
Robbery is the crime of taking or attempting to take something of value by force or threat of force or by putting the victim in fear. At common law, robbery is defined as taking the property of another, with the intent to permanently deprive the person of that property, by means of force or fear....

, contrary to section 8 of the Theft Act 1968.

Stolen goods

For the purposes of the provisions of the Theft Act 1968 which relate to stolen goods, goods obtain in England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 or Wales
Wales
Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain, bordered by England to its east and the Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea to its west. It has a population of three million, and a total area of 20,779 km²...

 or elsewhere by blackmail
Blackmail
In common usage, blackmail is a crime involving threats to reveal substantially true or false information about a person to the public, a family member, or associates unless a demand is met. It may be defined as coercion involving threats of physical harm, threat of criminal prosecution, or threats...

 or fraud
Fraud
In criminal law, a fraud is an intentional deception made for personal gain or to damage another individual; the related adjective is fraudulent. The specific legal definition varies by legal jurisdiction. Fraud is a crime, and also a civil law violation...

 are regarded as stolen, and the words "steal", "theft" and "thief" are construed accordingly.

Sections 22 to 24 and 26 to 28 of the Theft Act 1968 contain references to stolen goods.

Handling stolen goods

The offence of handling stolen goods, contrary to section 22(1) of the Theft Act 1968, can only be committed "otherwise than in the course of stealing".

Similar or associated offences

According to its title
Long title
The long title is the formal title appearing at the head of a statute or other legislative instrument...

, the Theft Act 1968
Theft Act 1968
The Theft Act 1968 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It creates a number of offences against property in England and Wales.On 15 January 2007 the Fraud Act 2006 came into force, redefining most of the offences of deception.-History:...

 revises the law as to theft and similar or associated offences. See also the Theft Act 1978
Theft Act 1978
The Theft Act 1978 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It supplemented the earlier deception offences contained in sections 15 and 16 of the Theft Act 1968 by reforming some aspects of those offences and adding new provisions...

.

Northern Ireland


In Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland is one of the four countries of the United Kingdom. Situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland, it shares a border with the Republic of Ireland to the south and west...

, theft is a statutory offence, created by section 1 of the Theft Act (Northern Ireland) 1969
Theft Act (Northern Ireland) 1969
The Theft Act 1969 is an Act of the Parliament of Northern Ireland. It makes similar provision to the Theft Act 1968 for Northern Ireland.-Section 11 - Removal of articles from places open to the public:...

.

United States


In the U.S., plenary regulation of theft exists only at the state level, in the sense that most thefts by default will be prosecuted by the state in which the theft occurred. The federal government
Federal government of the United States
The federal government of the United States is the national government of the constitutional republic of fifty states that is the United States of America. The federal government comprises three distinct branches of government: a legislative, an executive and a judiciary. These branches and...

 has criminalized certain narrow categories of theft which directly affect federal agencies or interstate commerce.

Although many U.S. state
U.S. state
A U.S. state is any one of the 50 federated states of the United States of America that share sovereignty with the federal government. Because of this shared sovereignty, an American is a citizen both of the federal entity and of his or her state of domicile. Four states use the official title of...

s have retained larceny
Larceny
Larceny is a crime involving the wrongful acquisition of the personal property of another person. It was an offence under the common law of England and became an offence in jurisdictions which incorporated the common law of England into their own law. It has been abolished in England and Wales,...

 as the primary offense, some have now adopted theft provisions.

In many states, grand theft of a vehicle is charged as "grand theft auto" (see motor vehicle theft
Motor vehicle theft
Motor vehicle theft is the criminal act of stealing or attempting to steal a motor vehicle...

 for more information).

Repeat offenders who continue to steal may become subject to life imprisonment
Life imprisonment
Life imprisonment is a sentence of imprisonment for a serious crime under which the convicted person is to remain in jail for the rest of his or her life...

 in certain states.

Sometimes the federal anti-theft-of-government-property law is used to prosecute cases where the Espionage Act would otherwise be involved; the theory being that by retaining sensitive information, the defendant has taken a 'thing of value' from the government. For examples, see the Amerasia
Amerasia
Amerasia was a journal of Far Eastern affairs best known for the 1940s "Amerasia Affair" in which several of its staff and their contacts were suspected of espionage and charged with unauthorized possession of government documents.-Publication:...

 case and United States v. Bradley Manning
United States v. Bradley Manning
United States v. Bradley Manning is the court-martial case involving US Army Private First Class Bradley E. Manning, who is alleged to have delivered US government documents to those not entitled to receive them in 2009 and 2010. Media reports have alleged that the receiver was Julian Assange of...

.

California


The Theft Act of 1927 consolidated a variety of common law crimes into theft. The state now distinguishes between two types of theft, grand theft and petty theft. Grand theft generally consists of the theft of something of value over $1000 (it can be money, labor or property but is lower with respect to various specified property), while petty theft is the default category for all other thefts. Grand theft is punishable by up to a year in jail or prison, and may be charged (depending upon the circumstances) as a misdemeanor
Misdemeanor
A misdemeanor is a "lesser" criminal act in many common law legal systems. Misdemeanors are generally punished much less severely than felonies, but theoretically more so than administrative infractions and regulatory offences...

 or felony
Felony
A felony is a serious crime in the common law countries. The term originates from English common law where felonies were originally crimes which involved the confiscation of a convicted person's land and goods; other crimes were called misdemeanors...

. while petty theft is a misdemeanor
Misdemeanor
A misdemeanor is a "lesser" criminal act in many common law legal systems. Misdemeanors are generally punished much less severely than felonies, but theoretically more so than administrative infractions and regulatory offences...

 punishable by a fine or imprisonment not exceeding six months in jail
Jail
A jail is a short-term detention facility in the United States and Canada.Jail may also refer to:In entertainment:*Jail , a 1966 Malayalam movie*Jail , a 2009 Bollywood movie...

 or both. As for the older crimes of embezzlement
Embezzlement
Embezzlement is the act of dishonestly appropriating or secreting assets by one or more individuals to whom such assets have been entrusted....

, larceny
Larceny
Larceny is a crime involving the wrongful acquisition of the personal property of another person. It was an offence under the common law of England and became an offence in jurisdictions which incorporated the common law of England into their own law. It has been abolished in England and Wales,...

, and stealing, any preexisting references to them now mean theft instead.

Victoria, Australia


Theft is defined at s.72 of the Crimes Act 1958. The actus reus and mens rea are defined as follows:

Actus reus


Appropriation - defined at s.73(4) of the Crimes Act 1958 as the assumption of any of the owners rights. It does not have be all the owner's rights, as long as at least one right has been assumed(Stein v Henshall). If the owner gave their consent to the appropriation there cannot be an appropriation(Baruday v R). However, if this consent is obtained by deception, this consent is vitiated.

Property - defined at s.71(1) of the Crimes Act 1958 as being both tangible property, including money and intangible property. Information has been held not be property(Oxford v Moss).

Belonging to another - s.73(5) that property belongs to another if that person has ownership, possession, or a proprietary interest in the property. Property can belong to more than one person. s.73(9) & s.73(10) deal with situations where the accused receives property under an obligation or by mistake.

Mens rea


Intention to permanently deprive - defined at s.73(12) as treating property as it belongs to the accused, rather than the owner.

Dishonestly - s.73(2) creates a negative definition of the term 'dishonestly'. The section deems only three circumstances when the accused is deemed to have been acting honestly. These are a belief in a legal claim of right (s.73(2)(a)), a belief that the owner would have consented (s.73(2)(b)), or a belief the owner could not be found(s.73(2)(c))

West Indies


In the British West Indies
British West Indies
The British West Indies was a term used to describe the islands in and around the Caribbean that were part of the British Empire The term was sometimes used to include British Honduras and British Guiana, even though these territories are not geographically part of the Caribbean...

, especially Grenada
Grenada
Grenada is an island country and Commonwealth Realm consisting of the island of Grenada and six smaller islands at the southern end of the Grenadines in the southeastern Caribbean Sea...

, there have been a spate of large-scale thefts of tons of sand from beaches
Beach Theft
A beach theft, in the sense of "theft of beach", is an unauthorized and illegal removal of huge quantities of sand from a beach leading to the full or partial disappearance of the beach. This article does not deal with the related sense - "theft in beach", i.e...

. Both Grenada
Grenada
Grenada is an island country and Commonwealth Realm consisting of the island of Grenada and six smaller islands at the southern end of the Grenadines in the southeastern Caribbean Sea...

 and Jamaica
Jamaica
Jamaica is an island nation of the Greater Antilles, in length, up to in width and 10,990 square kilometres in area. It is situated in the Caribbean Sea, about south of Cuba, and west of Hispaniola, the island harbouring the nation-states Haiti and the Dominican Republic...

 are considering increasing fines and jail time for the thefts.

See also


  • Anti-theft system
    Anti-theft system
    An anti-theft system is any device or method used to prevent or deter the unauthorized appropriation of items considered valuable. Theft is one of the most common and oldest criminal behaviours...

  • Asset management (corporate theft prevention)
  • Confidence trick
    Confidence trick
    A confidence trick is an attempt to defraud a person or group by gaining their confidence. A confidence artist is an individual working alone or in concert with others who exploits characteristics of the human psyche such as dishonesty and honesty, vanity, compassion, credulity, irresponsibility,...

  • Copyright infringement
    Copyright infringement
    Copyright infringement is the unauthorized or prohibited use of works under copyright, infringing the copyright holder's exclusive rights, such as the right to reproduce or perform the copyrighted work, or to make derivative works.- "Piracy" :...

  • Counterfeit
    Counterfeit
    To counterfeit means to illegally imitate something. Counterfeit products are often produced with the intent to take advantage of the superior value of the imitated product...

  • Credit card fraud
    Credit card fraud
    Credit card fraud is a wide-ranging term for theft and fraud committed using a credit card or any similar payment mechanism as a fraudulent source of funds in a transaction. The purpose may be to obtain goods without paying, or to obtain unauthorized funds from an account. Credit card fraud is also...

  • Dishonesty
    Dishonesty
    Dishonesty is a word which, in common usage, may be defined as the act or to act without honesty. It is used to describe a lack of probity, cheating, lying or being deliberately deceptive or a lack in integrity, knavishness, perfidiosity, corruption or treacherousness...

  • Fence (criminal)
    Fence (criminal)
    A fence is an individual who knowingly buys stolen property for later resale, sometimes in a legitimate market. The fence thus acts as a middleman between thieves and the eventual buyers of stolen goods who may or may not be aware that the goods are stolen. As a verb, the word describes the...

  • Force-initiation
  • Fraud
    Fraud
    In criminal law, a fraud is an intentional deception made for personal gain or to damage another individual; the related adjective is fraudulent. The specific legal definition varies by legal jurisdiction. Fraud is a crime, and also a civil law violation...

  • Larceny
    Larceny
    Larceny is a crime involving the wrongful acquisition of the personal property of another person. It was an offence under the common law of England and became an offence in jurisdictions which incorporated the common law of England into their own law. It has been abolished in England and Wales,...

  • Money laundering
    Money laundering
    Money laundering is the process of disguising illegal sources of money so that it looks like it came from legal sources. The methods by which money may be laundered are varied and can range in sophistication. Many regulatory and governmental authorities quote estimates each year for the amount...

  • Organized crime
    Organized crime
    Organized crime or criminal organizations are transnational, national, or local groupings of highly centralized enterprises run by criminals for the purpose of engaging in illegal activity, most commonly for monetary profit. Some criminal organizations, such as terrorist organizations, are...

  • Pickpocketing
    Pickpocketing
    Pickpocketing is a form of larceny that involves the stealing of money or other valuables from the person of a victim without their noticing the theft at the time. It requires considerable dexterity and a knack for misdirection...

  • Plagiarism
    Plagiarism
    Plagiarism is defined in dictionaries as the "wrongful appropriation," "close imitation," or "purloining and publication" of another author's "language, thoughts, ideas, or expressions," and the representation of them as one's own original work, but the notion remains problematic with nebulous...

  • Property is theft!
    Property is theft!
    Property is theft! is a slogan coined by French anarchist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon in his 1840 book What is Property? Or, an Inquiry into the Principle of Right and of Government....

  • Secret profit
    Secret profit
    In English law, a secret profit is a profit made by an employee who uses his employer's premises and business facilities in order to engage in unauthorised trade on his own behalf. A common example is a bar manager who purchases beer from a brewery in his own right and sells it in the bar in...

  • Skimming (casinos)
    Skimming (casinos)
    "In May of 1963...the FBI turned over to the Justice Department a two-volume document called "The Skimming Report," which detailed the illegal siphoning off of gambling profits by Las Vegas casinos to avoid taxes." The report documented how pre-tax profits from casinos were being routed to various...

  • Taxation as theft
    Taxation as theft
    The identification of taxation as theft is viewpoint held by anarchists and some non-anarchist libertarians. It states that government is transgressing property rights by enforcing compulsory tax collection.-See also:*Anarchism*Libertarianism*Objectivism...

  • Theft Act
    Theft Act
    Theft Act is a stock short title used for legislation in the United Kingdom which relates to theft and other offences against property....

  • White-collar crime
    White-collar crime
    Within the field of criminology, white-collar crime has been defined by Edwin Sutherland as "a crime committed by a person of respectability and high social status in the course of his occupation" . Sutherland was a proponent of Symbolic Interactionism, and believed that criminal behavior was...



Specific forms of theft and other related offences
  • Art theft
    Art theft
    Art theft is usually for the purpose of resale or for ransom . Stolen art is sometimes used by criminals to secure loans.. One must realize that only a small percentage of stolen art is recovered. Estimates range from 5 to 10%. This means that little is known about the scope and characteristics of...

  • Bank robbery
    Bank robbery
    Bank robbery is the crime of stealing from a bank during opening hours. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Uniform Crime Reporting Program, robbery is "the taking or attempting to take anything of value from the care, custody, or control of a person or persons by force or threat of...

  • Bandwidth theft
  • Carjacking
    Carjacking
    Carjacking is a form of hijacking, where the crime is of stealing a motor vehicle and so also armed assault when the vehicle is occupied. Historically, such as in the rash of semi-trailer truck hijackings during the 1960s, the general term hijacking was used for that type of vehicle abduction,...

  • Computer crime
    Computer crime
    Computer crime, or cybercrime, refers to any crime that involves a computer and a network. The computer may have been used in the commission of a crime, or it may be the target. Netcrime refers to criminal exploitation of the Internet. Such crimes may threaten a nation’s security and financial health...

  • Data theft
    Data theft
    Data theft is a growing problem primarily perpetrated by office workers with access to technology such as desktop computers and hand-held devices capable of storing digital information such as USB flash drives, iPods and even digital cameras...

  • Economic Espionage Act of 1996
    Economic Espionage Act of 1996
    The Economic Espionage Act of 1996 was a 6 title Act of Congress dealing with a wide range of issues, including not only industrial espionage , but the insanity defense, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, requirements for presentence investigation reports, and the United...

  • Embezzlement
    Embezzlement
    Embezzlement is the act of dishonestly appropriating or secreting assets by one or more individuals to whom such assets have been entrusted....

  • Espionage
    Espionage
    Espionage or spying involves an individual obtaining information that is considered secret or confidential without the permission of the holder of the information. Espionage is inherently clandestine, lest the legitimate holder of the information change plans or take other countermeasures once it...

  • Extortion
    Extortion
    Extortion is a criminal offence which occurs when a person unlawfully obtains either money, property or services from a person, entity, or institution, through coercion. Refraining from doing harm is sometimes euphemistically called protection. Extortion is commonly practiced by organized crime...

  • Identity theft
    Identity theft
    Identity theft is a form of stealing another person's identity in which someone pretends to be someone else by assuming that person's identity, typically in order to access resources or obtain credit and other benefits in that person's name...

  • Kidnapping
    Kidnapping
    In criminal law, kidnapping is the taking away or transportation of a person against that person's will, usually to hold the person in false imprisonment, a confinement without legal authority...

  • Laptop theft
    Laptop theft
    Laptop theft is a significant threat to users of laptop computers. Many methods to protect the data and to prevent theft have been developed, including alarms, laptop locks, and visual deterrents such as stickers or labels. Victims of laptop theft can lose hardware, software, and essential data...

  • Metal theft
    Metal theft
    Metal theft is the theft of metal items on a very large scale. These thefts usually increase when worldwide prices for scrap metal rise. In recent years, prices for metals have risen dramatically due to rapid industrialization in India and China...

  • Motor vehicle theft
    Motor vehicle theft
    Motor vehicle theft is the criminal act of stealing or attempting to steal a motor vehicle...

  • Organized retail crime
    Organized retail crime
    Organized retail crime refers to professional shoplifting, cargo theft, retail crime rings and other organized crime occurring in retail environments. One person acting alone is not considered an example of organized retail crime. The FBI has estimated that the losses attributed to organized...

  • Package pilferage
    Package pilferage
    Pilferage is the theft of part of the contents of a package. It may also include theft of the contents but leaving the package, perhaps resealed with bogus contents. Small packages can be pilfered from a larger package such as a shipping container...

  • Piracy
    Piracy
    Piracy is an act of robbery or criminal violence at sea. The term can include acts committed on land, in the air, or in other major bodies of water or on a shore. It does not normally include crimes committed against persons traveling on the same vessel as the perpetrator...

  • Receipt of stolen property
  • Street sign theft
    Street sign theft
    Street sign theft occurs when street signs are stolen, often to be used as decorations, but also sometimes to avoid obeying the law by claiming later the sign was not there. Although the theft often seems arbitrary, signs that are unusual or amusing tend to be stolen more frequently...

  • Tax evasion
    Tax evasion
    Tax evasion is the general term for efforts by individuals, corporations, trusts and other entities to evade taxes by illegal means. Tax evasion usually entails taxpayers deliberately misrepresenting or concealing the true state of their affairs to the tax authorities to reduce their tax liability,...

  • Theft of services
    Theft of services
    Theft of services is the legal term for a crime which is committed when a person obtains valuable services — as opposed to goods — by deception, force, threat or other unlawful means, i.e., without lawfully compensating the provider of said services...

  • Theft by finding
    Theft by finding
    Theft by finding occurs when someone who chances upon an object which seems abandoned takes possession of the object but fails to take steps to establish whether the object is abandoned and not merely lost or unattended...