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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 ?
TABLE 4 Psychological and Attitudinal Characteristics of Self-Reported Theives versus Non-Theives
Local law enforcement officials across Texas have met with one another - and with drilling companies - to discuss which tactics work best to prevent thefts and catch theives.
ATTACKED The statue of a little boy forming part of the miners' memorial was left desecrated after metal theives attempted to cut him off above the ankles.
A BIRMINGHAM MP has visited a city church which became the latest to be hit by metal theives who stripped thousands of pounds-worth of lead from its roof.
In 2005, Paul Belk, then aged 20, was left in a coma after drugs were slipped into his drink by theives.
The theives broke in the house in Fernhill Drive by smashing a patio door and ransacked the house before stealing diamond, gold, ruby and sapphire necklaces, earrings, bangles and rings.
Theives and vandals have wrecked a fence built by volunteers in an East Cleveland wood.
A GANG of theives badly damaged a house and stole Christmas presents and cash yesterday in the Markets area of Belfast.
Any balance sheet thrown away with your credit or storecard details on can be used by identity theives who pretend to have moved house, ask for the statements to be sent to a new address, and then later report the card as lost.
Effectively a chase movie thatOPENRANGEsidekick, with remakegives a nod to classic western Theives a nod to classic western The Searchers, it needs better pacing.
Undercover and Crossing Jordan (starring Jill Hennessy), ABC's Alias, Theives (starring John Stamos) and Philly (starring Kim Delaney), CBS's The Guardian and The Agency (starring Gill Bellows and Gloria Reuben), FOX's Pasadena, The Tick and 24 (starring Kiefer Sutherland) and the WB's Smallville.
Additionally, Hiscox found that the median age of employee theives was 50, and that 60% of perpetrators were women.