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A criminal act in which property belonging to another is taken without that person's consent.

The term theft is sometimes used synonymously with Larceny. Theft, however, is actually a broader term, encompassing many forms of deceitful taking of property, including swindling, Embezzlement, and False Pretenses. Some states categorize all these offenses under a single statutory crime of theft.


Burglary; Robbery.


n. the generic term for all crimes in which a person intentionally and fraudulently takes personal property of another without permission or consent and with the intent to convert it to the taker's use (including potential sale). In many states, if the value of the property taken is low (for example, less than $500) the crime is "petty theft," but it is "grand theft" for larger amounts, designated misdemeanor, or felony, respectively. Theft is synonymous with "larceny." Although robbery (taking by force), burglary (taken by entering unlawfully), and embezzlement (stealing from an employer) are all commonly thought of as theft, they are distinguished by the means and methods used, and are separately designated as those types of crimes in criminal charges and statutory punishments. (See: larceny, robbery, burglary, embezzlement)


noun burglary, embezzlement, felonious taking, filchery, fraudulent taking, furtum, larceny, looting, misappropriation, peculation, pilferage, pilfering, robbery, stealing, swindling, thievery, wrongful taking
Associated concepts: theft of services
Foreign phrases: Contrectatio rei alienae animo furando, est furtum.The touching or removing of another's propprty, with an intention of stealing, is theft.
See also: burglary, conversion, embezzlement, housebreaking, larceny, misappropriation, plunder, robbery, spoliation


in English law, now defined in statutory terms as the dishonest appropriation of property belonging to another with the intention of permanently depriving the other of it. The law has, however, been complicated by semantic arguments, leading the Court of Appeal to say that the law is in urgent need of reform to make cases understandable to juries. Wheel-clamping is not theft in England (contrary to the position in Scotland) because there is not the intention to permanently deprive.

In Scots criminal law, the felonious taking or appropriation (or retention) of the property of another without his consent and (in most cases, but not necessarily) with the intention to deprive him of it permanently. Wheel-clamping has been held to be theft in Scotland, even although the vehicle is not moved by the clamper.

THEFT, crimes. This word is sometimes used as synonymous with larceny, (q.v.) but it is not so technical. Ayliffe's Pand. 581 2 Swift's Dig. 309.
     2. In the Scotch law, this is a proper and technical word, and signifies the secret and felonious abstraction of the property of another for sake of lucre, without his consent. Alison, Princ. Cr. Law of Scotl. 250.

References in periodicals archive ?
Chris Price, head of Direct Line Travel Insurance, said: "People can fall prey to petty theft in their everyday lives, but on holiday the event can be all the more traumatic
Using such harsh language that fails--perhaps intentionally--to distinguish real safety threats from petty theft is reckless and does not serve the public interest.
A week later, she had resumed her petty theft in earnest.
But the property owner was not characterized as a victim of tenant violence because the columnist claimed that the argument was not over the landlord wanting a drug addict out of her building, supposedly it was because of a petty theft.
Religious differences undermine Frank's amorous intentions, and Morris fires him for petty theft.
The Winslow Boy (1946), about a father 's struggle to clear his son of an accusation of petty theft, and The Browning Version (1948), set in a boys ' school and showing considerable psychological penetration, established his reputation as a serious playwright; Separate Tables, a study of loneliness set in a seaside resort, confirmed it.
Biodrowski and Delgado allege that the City of El Monte, the El Monte Police Department, and their personnel, falsely accused them of, and arrested them for, petty theft of a $3.
SHOPLIFTING arrests in South Wales are on the increase, amid fears the cost of living crisis is driving people to petty theft.
Other issues have included petty theft and disputes between readers.
I joined the workforce in the early Seventies and there was endemic skiving, petty theft, barrack-room lawyerism and a rampant sicknote culture.
LET'S talk about theft, let's talk about larceny, but in this case it is not petty theft, it is gigantic theft and grand larceny: the theft of a country.
It wasn't their giggling teenage idiocy that bothered me, or the casual petty theft involved.