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Theft


In common usage, theft is the taking of another person's property or services without that person's permission or consent with the intent to deprive the rightful owner of it. The word is also used as an informal shorthand term for some crimes against property, such as burglary, embezzlement, larceny, looting, robbery, shoplifting, library theft, and fraud (i.e., obtaining money under false pretenses). In some jurisdictions, theft is considered to be synonymous with larceny; 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 also known by other terms such as stealing, thieving, and filching.

Theft is the name of a statutory offence in California, Canada, England and Wales, Hong Kong,Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, and the Australian states of South Australia and Victoria.

The actus reus of theft is usually defined as an unauthorized taking, keeping or using of another's property which must be accompanied by a mens rea of dishonesty and/or the intent to permanently deprive the owner or the person with rightful possession of that property or its use.



(a) to deprive, temporarily or absolutely, the owner of it, or a person who has a special property or interest in it, of the thing or of his property or interest in it;
(b) to pledge it or deposit it as security;
(c) to part with it under a condition with respect to its return that the person who parts with it may be unable to perform; or
(d) to deal with it in such a manner that it cannot be restored in the condition in which it was at the time it was taken or converted.
  • theft from oyster beds (s. 323)
  • theft by bailee of things under seizure (s. 324)
  • exception when agent is pledging goods (s. 325)
  • theft of telecommunications service (s. 326)
  • possession of device to obtain telecommunication facility or service (s. 327)
  • theft by or from person having special property or interest (s. 328)
  • theft by person required to account (s. 330)
  • theft by person holding power of attorney (s. 331)
  • misappropriation of money held under direction (s. 332)
  • exception for ore taken for exploration or scientific research (s. 333)
  • be property of some sort;
  • be property capable of being
  • taken (therefore intangibles are excluded); or
  • converted (and may be an intangible);
  • taken or converted in a way that deprives the owner of his/her proprietary interest in some way.
  • taken (therefore intangibles are excluded); or
  • converted (and may be an intangible);
  • taken or converted in a way that deprives the owner of his/her proprietary interest in some way.
  • 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 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, 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, it is punishable by imprisonment for not more than 2 years, and,
  • if treated as a summary conviction offence, it is punishable by 6 months imprisonment, a fine of $2000 or both.
  • if dealt with as an indictable offence, it is punishable by imprisonment for not more than 2 years, and,
  • if treated as a summary conviction offence, it is punishable by 6 months imprisonment, a fine of $2000 or both.
  • Aggravating circumstances (3 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 nighttime; 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 (4 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 (10 to 20 years): when the consequences are extremely grave and affect public institutions or the material stolen is worth over 200,000 RON (approximately US$80,000).
1.-(1) 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.
(2) It is immaterial whether the appropriation is made with a view to gain, or is made for the thief’s own benefit.
  • theft from oyster beds (s. 323)
  • theft by bailee of things under seizure (s. 324)
  • exception when agent is pledging goods (s. 325)
  • theft of telecommunications service (s. 326)
  • possession of device to obtain telecommunication facility or service (s. 327)
  • theft by or from person having special property or interest (s. 328)
  • theft by person required to account (s. 330)
  • theft by person holding power of attorney (s. 331)
  • misappropriation of money held under direction (s. 332)
  • exception for ore taken for exploration or scientific research (s. 333)
  • be property of some sort;
  • be property capable of being
  • taken (therefore intangibles are excluded); or
  • converted (and may be an intangible);
  • taken or converted in a way that deprives the owner of his/her proprietary interest in some way.
  • 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 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, 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, it is punishable by imprisonment for not more than 2 years, and,
  • if treated as a summary conviction offence, it is punishable by 6 months imprisonment, a fine of $2000 or both.
  • Article 310 prohibits theft (Dutch: diefstal), which is defined as taking away any object that (partly) belongs to someone else, with the intention to appropriate it illegally. Maximum imprisonment is 4 years or a fine of the fifth category.
  • Article 311 consists of the following:
    • Part 1. Punishable with maximum imprisonment of 6 years or a fine of the fourth category is:
      • 1. Theft of cattle;
      • 2. Theft during certain emergency occasions;
      • 3. Theft during night in a residence by someone who is there without knowledge or permission of the owner;
      • 4. Theft by 2 or more organized people;
      • 5. Theft, where the thief got access by means of violence, climbing in, using false keys or disguise;
      • 6. Terroristic theft.
    • Part 2. When theft if committed as in 3 with the situation of 4 and 5, the punishment is a maximum imprisonment of 9 nears or a fine of the fifth category.
  • Article 312 consists of the following:
    • Part 1 prohibits robbery (Dutch: beroving), which is defined as taking away any object with violence or with threat of violence. Maximum imprisonment is 9 years or a fine with the fifth category
    • Part 2 allows maximum imprisonment of 12 years or a fine of the fifth category when:
      • 1. Robbery was committed during night, in a residence, on the public road or moving train;
      • 2. Robbery was committed by 2 or more people;
      • 3. Robbery was committed by violence, climbing in, false key or disguise;
      • 4. Robbery caused severe injury;
      • 5. Robbery was terroristic.
    • Part 3 allows maximum imprisonment of 15 years instead of 12 when robbery caused death to the victim.
  • Article 314 consists of the following:
    • Part 1 prohibits poaching (Dutch: stroperij), which is defined as taking away without violence the following: clay, sand, earth, raw wood, fallen vegetables (see the source for a complete list). Maximum imprisonment is one month or a fine of the second category.
    • Part 2 increases the maximum imprisonment to 2 months when the crime is committed again less than 2 years after the first time.
  • Article 315 increases the maximum imprisonment and fine category when poaching is done with vehicles and draft animals. Maximum imprisonment is 3 years or a fine of the fourth category.
  • Part 1. Punishable with maximum imprisonment of 6 years or a fine of the fourth category is:
    • 1. Theft of cattle;
    • 2. Theft during certain emergency occasions;
    • 3. Theft during night in a residence by someone who is there without knowledge or permission of the owner;
    • 4. Theft by 2 or more organized people;
    • 5. Theft, where the thief got access by means of violence, climbing in, using false keys or disguise;
    • 6. Terroristic theft.
  • Part 2. When theft if committed as in 3 with the situation of 4 and 5, the punishment is a maximum imprisonment of 9 nears or a fine of the fifth category.
  • 1. Theft of cattle;
  • 2. Theft during certain emergency occasions;
  • 3. Theft during night in a residence by someone who is there without knowledge or permission of the owner;
  • 4. Theft by 2 or more organized people;
  • 5. Theft, where the thief got access by means of violence, climbing in, using false keys or disguise;
  • 6. Terroristic theft.
  • Part 1 prohibits robbery (Dutch: beroving), which is defined as taking away any object with violence or with threat of violence. Maximum imprisonment is 9 years or a fine with the fifth category
  • Part 2 allows maximum imprisonment of 12 years or a fine of the fifth category when:
    • 1. Robbery was committed during night, in a residence, on the public road or moving train;
    • 2. Robbery was committed by 2 or more people;
    • 3. Robbery was committed by violence, climbing in, false key or disguise;
    • 4. Robbery caused severe injury;
    • 5. Robbery was terroristic.
  • Part 3 allows maximum imprisonment of 15 years instead of 12 when robbery caused death to the victim.
  • 1. Robbery was committed during night, in a residence, on the public road or moving train;
  • 2. Robbery was committed by 2 or more people;
  • 3. Robbery was committed by violence, climbing in, false key or disguise;
  • 4. Robbery caused severe injury;
  • 5. Robbery was terroristic.
  • Part 1 prohibits poaching (Dutch: stroperij), which is defined as taking away without violence the following: clay, sand, earth, raw wood, fallen vegetables (see the source for a complete list). Maximum imprisonment is one month or a fine of the second category.
  • Part 2 increases the maximum imprisonment to 2 months when the crime is committed again less than 2 years after the first time.
  • Article 208: Theft (1 to 12 years)—When a person steals an object, or uses a vehicle without permission and no aggravating circumstances apply.
  • Article 209: Qualified theft (3 to 20 years)
  • Aggravating circumstances (3 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 nighttime; 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 (4 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 (10 to 20 years): when the consequences are extremely grave and affect public institutions or the material stolen is worth over 200,000 RON (approximately US$80,000).
  • 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))
  • 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.
  • did the car "belong to another"? The garage had a lien 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 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.
  • Allen, Michael. Textbook on Criminal Law. Oxford University Press, Oxford. (2005) .
  • Criminal Law Revision Committee. 8th Report. Theft and Related Offences. Cmnd. 2977
  • Green, Stuart P. Thirteen Ways to Steal a Bicycle: Theft Law in the Information Age. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA (2012).
  • Griew, Edward. Theft Acts 1968 & 1978, Sweet & Maxwell.
  • Ormerod, David. Smith and Hogan Criminal Law, LexisNexis, London. (2005)
  • Maniscalco, Fabio, Theft of Art (in Italian), Naples - Massa (2000)
  • Smith, J. C. Law of Theft, LexisNexis: London. (1997) .
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