• Theft Act Offences

Theft Act Offences


To be convicted of Theft, a number of elements need to be proven- that a person dishonestly took property belonging to someone else with the intention of not returning it to its rightful owner.

The maximum sentence in Theft cases is seven years’ imprisonment. In reality, cases will be heard by Magistrates unless they are of particularly high value or seriousness.


As with Theft, a number of things have to be established. A person must have entered a property as a trespasser, with the intention of committing a theft (or indeed another offence such as criminal damage)

For cases of domestic burglary, the maximum sentence is 14 years’ imprisonment.


An offence of Robbery is committed when a person uses force or the threat of force in order to steal.

Making Off Without Payment

This is when a person knows payment is required for goods or services, and dishonestly makes off without paying.

For example, if a person fills their vehicle with fuel and suddenly realises that they cannot pay, they should complete a No Means to Pay form, and pay within 48 hours. If a person merely fills up and drives off without attempting to pay or speak to petrol station staff, they commit this offence, under s.3 of the Theft Act.

The maximum sentence in the Magistrates’ Court is six months imprisonment, and two years’ imprisonment in the Crown Court.

Taking a Vehicle without Consent

This offence is governed by s.12 of the Act, and relates to the unauthorised use of a vehicle- whether you intend to return it or not. If convicted, a person can be sentenced to a maximum of six months imprisonment and/or a fine.

If classed as aggravated taking, the penalties are much more severe. The maximum custodial sentence is two years and/or an unlimited fine.

If you are convicted of taking without consent, you could face up to six months’ imprisonment and a fine. For aggravated taking, the maximum sentence is two years’ imprisonment, a minimum 12-month driving ban, an unlimited fine and between three and 11 penalty points.

Cases are dealt with in the Magistrates’ Court, with a maximum sentence of six months’ imprisonment and/or a fine not exceeding £2,500. A conviction may of course also result in a driving ban.

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