What is theft?

The act of theft is one of three ‘dishonesty offences’ classified under UK law and relates to the dishonest taking of property belonging to another, with the sole purpose of permanently depriving the other person of said property.

Theft can be from one person, from a shop – known as shoplifting – or an employer. Identity fraud is also classified as theft under UK law.

Any act of theft is in contravention of the Theft Act 1968 and the Theft Act 1978.

Theft and the law

To  prove an act of theft has taken place, the prosecution in the case must illustrate five key elements:

  • Dishonesty
  • Appropriation
  • The involvement of an item of property
  • The property belongs to another
  • The intention to permanently deprive the owner of the item of property

If any of these points cannot be proven then the case is likely to be dropped and the defendant acquitted.

Similar to burglary, theft is classified an an ‘either way’ offence, meaning it can be heard in either the magistrates’ court or the crown court. A case is likely to be referred to the crown court if the value of the goods stolen is high.

What is the penalty for theft?

The maximum sentence for theft in the UK is 14 years’ imprisonment.

What to do if you have been accused of theft

If you have been accused of theft you should seek the advice of a specialist solicitor as soon as you are able to do so. An expert legal representative can advise you on the best lines of defence in your own individual case.

The team at Lawtons can represent you at the police station or in court. Whether your case relates to theft from an employer, theft from a vehicle or identity theft, we are here to help, no matter how minor or major the accusation of theft might be. Get in touch for expert advice and assistance – call us on 0333 577 0522.

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