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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 ?
Although there are no criminal penalties for failing to comply, FTC enforcement, state government action or common law tort actions could trigger monetary sanctions for failing to have an identity theft prevention program that meets the rule's standards.
* Security procedures: Ask whether the trucking company trains its drivers in hi-jack awareness and theft prevention.
In addition to employee training, Red Flags Rule requires small businesses to have a written ID theft prevention program in place.
The Texas Automobile Burglary and Theft Prevention Authority is funded with an annual $1 fee on all auto insurance policies in Texas.
Most professionals dedicate their time to physical security, crime prevention, loss prevention, employee theft prevention, and guard force management.
The Motor Vehicle Theft Prevention Act authorizes the Attorney General to develop, through the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) in cooperation with the states, a national voluntary motor vehicle theft prevention program.
Los Angeles, CA, June 21, 2012 --( The latest figures on 2011 auto thefts from the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) show that the number of vehicles being stolen is declining for another straight year but that the bulk of thefts still occur in California, stressing the value of theft prevention in the Golden State, which has had a long-running history with auto thefts, according to Online Auto Insurance (OAI).
Under the House and Senate initial budget proposals, funding is nixed for the Texas Automobile Burglary and Theft Prevention Authority, a five-person shop that lawmakers created in 1991 and awards grants to police agencies to help prevent and investigate the crimes that are its namesake.
Gladiator's monitoring layers, including ESM, tackles the detection, prevention and mitigation of Red Flags to protect the privacy, security and confidentiality of non-public confidential information, as mandated in the recent ID Theft Prevention Program Guidelines (FACT ACT modifications) to be addressed by 1 November 2008.
In addition to general matters, Cargo Theft Prevention furnishes detailed, nuts-and-bolts advice on how to develop a cargo security plan and how to conduct facility audits.
The department can schedule certain guests depending on the time of year (e.g., the head of the bicycle patrol unit at the beginning of spring, a theft prevention officer or the security chief of a local retail mall during the holiday shopping season) or schedule guests who correspond to highlights in the department's magazine or community newsletter.