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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.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


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)

Copyright © 1981-2005 by Gerald N. Hill and Kathleen T. Hill. All Right reserved.


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.

Collins Dictionary of Law © W.J. Stewart, 2006

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.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
References in periodicals archive ?
Online identity thefts may also be reported to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).
Identity theft would be much harder--and the costs to victims much lower--were it not for the carelessness of the credit industry and of other institutions that handle personal data.
The Identity Theft Assistance Center--a consortium of 100 financial companies that will enable a victim to submit an identity theft report to just one company--is now in pilot testing.
While it may be sixth on the list, due to the size of this area it has the highest rate of theft per person, at over nine per thousand people.
He said that a report regarding an action against the canal water theft should be submitted to the chief minister office.
Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar said the canal water theft was a punishable crime, therefore, effective measures should be taken to control the water theft and the people involved in this crime deserve no leniency.
A further 17 per cent of children had experienced theft from outside a school building, such as in a playground, street or car park near to their school.
cent in a space, One in every seven thefts against a child happened in or around homes or housing estates
The discrepancy could be explained by of a lack of uniformity in the way police record and enforce cat theft.
* The number of claims, at 56,000, rose 12 percent from 2017, with a new theft claim being made every six minutes.
Those aged 18 to 21 are most at risk, with 1.6 per cent experiencing phone theft last year - double the average 0.8 per cent.
The crimes being pursued through the police Caught on Camera website this week all feature alleged thefts from shops, including two on the bottom row which could be the same suspect.