The term ‘theft’, also known as stealing, is commonly defined as the act of taking another’s property or services without that person’s consent and intending to deprive that person permanently. Under the Theft Act (TA) 1968, an appropriation occurs when a person is aiming to gain for their own benefit.
What is considered theft can often be complicated as the offence can be committed in a wide variety of circumstances, including:
- theft in breach of trust
- theft in a home
- theft of a motor vehicle
- theft from a person, and
- theft from a shop
Theft can cover a wide range of financial harm, from something as minor as stealing a pen, or an item that causes significant inconvenience such as car keys, to the theft of goods worth millions of pounds.
The maximum sentence given for theft is seven years imprisonment when tried by the Crown Court. Offenders tried summarily can be given a maximum of six months imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine.