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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 ?
Michigan's statewide auto theft prevention program, said she expects an increased focus on auto theft and carjacking by Detroit Police Chief James Craig to result in lower numbers for Detroit in next year's report.
The relationships were mature and effective enough to exploit the single most important development for theft prevention and investigation: technological advancement.
Organizations fail to draw up protocols to stimulate theft prevention.
With potential fines to employers of up to $50 per employee per week for non-compliance, the State of New York is taking the New York Wage Theft Prevention Act seriously.
The Texas Automobile Burglary and Theft Prevention Authority is funded with an annual $1 fee on all auto insurance policies in Texas.
If the organization falls into one of these categories, it will need to develop and implement an identity theft prevention program that complies with the rule.
Creditors must develop an identity theft prevention program for any "covered account.
org/FTCguidance, and the AICPA has released a guide for CPAs to create an ID theft prevention program available at www.
The agencies' staffs have jointly developed answers to these FAQs to help clarify numerous aspects of the rules, including which types of entities and accounts are covered, establishment and administration of an Identity Theft Prevention Program, address validation requirements applicable to card issuers, and the obligations of users of consumer reports upon receiving a notice of address discrepancy.
Jessica Corey, a commanding officer in the New York Police Department's crime prevention division, recentlyled a seminar on identity theft prevention at the New York Police Museum for the officers of Classic Security assigned to the Swig Equities building portfolio.
In addition to general matters, Cargo Theft Prevention provides detailed, nuts-and-bolts descriptions on how to develop a cargo security plan and how to conduct facility audits.
COM'S book Identity Theft Prevention and Victim Assistance, by Barry Stamp, gives tips on how to avoid being a victim and restoring a stolen identity.