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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 ?
However, these reports are by no means exhaustive as the lack of comprehensive data on cargo theft in the EMEA region makes it impractical to gauge the change in cargo theft numbers over the years.
Over the last year this area has seen a significantly lower number of car thefts, long may it last.
Cash was stolen in 12 per cent of cases - the same rate as mobile phones - while bikes accounted for 11 per cent of thefts.
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 Some 14 per cent of children aged between 10 and 15 who'd been stolen from said the incident took place in or around their home or housing estate.
The figures revealed that the striking Bengal cat, which can sell upwards of [pounds sterling]400-[pounds sterling]500, seemed to be at greatest risk of being stolen, with 19% of all recorded thefts being for the exotic breed.
A surge in vehicle thefts, including keyless car crime, has led to motor insurers paying out a record [pounds sterling]1 million (US$1.3 million) every day, according to figures published by the Association of British Insurers (ABI).
It is both the lowest number and proportion of mobile thefts recorded since at least 2007/08, when modern records began.
Saturday, December 22 Theft non-specific Ref: KD2047
The 57,096 thefts in 2015 amounted to a 22 percent increase over the previous year, according to the latest report from the NICB.
These five most targeted brands account-ed for 35,304 thefts last year, or about 76 percent of the total.
* There were an estimated 721,053 thefts of motor vehicles nationwide in 2012.