Generally speaking, theft is any unauthorized taking of another’s property without their consent with the intent to permanently deprive them of said property.  Theft covers a broad range of crimes including stealing from a place of commerce (shoplifting), one’s place of business (employee theft and embezzlement), car theft, car jacking, burglary, larceny, robbery, fraud, and more.  Fraud, typically a white collar crime, is the act of intentionally deceiving another person to gain something at their expense.  Identity theft, whereby a criminal steals the identity of an unwitting consumer in order to obtain financial gain, is a rampant white collar crime affecting millions of people in the United States every year. 

The crime of theft varies based on the context of the theft, the location of the crime, the value of the goods stolen, and other specifics.  In general, there are two classifications of theft, based on the value of goods stolen, recognized by the criminal justice system: petty theft and grand theft.   The exact value of goods at which a petty theft becomes grand theft varies from court to court.  If aggravating circumstances were relevant to the crime or the value of stolen goods exceeds the statutory amount, the crime may be increased to a felony grand theft charge. 

A felony theft charge is considered a serious offense which is punishable by more than one year of incarceration.  In general, theft crimes involving the threat or use of force and/or a weapon are considered felony offenses.  While white collar crimes are typically non-violent crimes, this type of theft is often regarded as a felony crime.  In addition to serving jail or prison time upon conviction of a theft crime, the offender may also be required to pay a fine, serve a probation or parole term, perform community service, and more.  A person who commits theft against another is often required to compensate the victim for their losses and suffering.   

Theft crimes cause significant damages to individuals, businesses, government, and society as a whole.  Shoplifting, for example, costs businesses at least $16 billion dollars every year.  Each family in the United States pays an additional $300 per year in elevated prices to help subsidize this cost.  The Bureau of National Affairs estimates that employee theft costs businesses as much as $25 billion annually.  Identity theft is a white collar crime which has become a widespread problem in our country and abroad.  The Federal Trade Commission estimates that identity theft costs consumers more than $60 billion each year. 

For these costs to society and many other reasons, courts tend to take theft crimes very seriously.  Because theft crimes and their penalties vary greatly based on the type of offense and the jurisdiction, a person who is charged with theft would do best to contact a qualified and experienced attorney in their area about the specifics of their case.  If you would like to learn more about theft, please contact us to speak with a qualified and experienced attorney in your area. 

Related Theft News

Jan 24, 2008 - Panty Thief Faces Jail Time

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