Theft and the law


The law on theft is set out in the Theft Act 1968. This Act sets out the elements of a theft act and the punishment for such acts. Generally speaking theft is a criminal and illegal act where one person takes someone else’s property without consent. Theft covers a wide range of acts including burglary, shoplifting, robbery and fraud. If you or someone you know has a committed a theft crime then you should consider speaking to a specialist criminal solicitor who will be able to explain the law to you and answer any questions you may have.

The law on theft states that ‘a person is guilty of theft, if he dishonestly appropriates property belonging to another person with the intention of permanently depriving the other of it’. This can be broken down into five elements and they must all be present in a criminal act in order for a person to be prosecuted. The first element is that a person must be dishonest. The second element is appropriation; a person must physically take something from someone else. This will also include failing to return something once it has come into your possession.

The third element is that the thing which is taken must be property, meaning anything that can be severed from land. Fourthly, it must belong to someone else and that person must have distinct ownership over that property. Lastly, you must intend to permanently deprive the other person of the property, meaning that the other person loses the value of the thing that is stolen. If found guilty of an offence under the Theft Act 1968 the maximum penalty from the Crown Court is up to seven years’ imprisonment. 

If you would like advice on theft law, then Contact Law can put you in touch with a local law firm with specialist criminal solicitors free of charge. So, if you have any questions or would like our help in finding local criminal solicitors please call us on 0800 1777 162 or complete the web-form above.

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