Theft Burglary Robbery Explained.
Theft is when you dishonestly take possession of something belonging to another with the intention of permanently depriving the other of it.
Key words here are “dishonestly” and “permanently”
Temporary deprivation is borrowing and borrowing is not theft. However if you treat something as your own, such as using a “borrowed” bus pass, then the court may conclude that you stole it.
Forgetting to pay is not theft, it is not dishonest.
Promising to pay afterwards does not undo the act of theft, and many a surprised shoplifter has been led away in handcuffs after making such promise to the store manager.
Finding is theft if you keep the item without taking reasonable steps to find the owner.
Keeping something you were given in error is also theft, so when the bank accidently adds a nought or two to a credit and you gleefully go on a spending spree then you’ll end up in court I’m afraid.
Q. I accidently left the toilet rolls on the back of the trolley at the supermarket when I went through the checkout. Is this theft?
A. No. An accident is not theft.
Q. I didn’t return the library book on time. Can I sell it?
A. Overdue hire is not theft. However the book is not yours so if you sell it you are assuming the rights of the owner so this may be theft.
Burglary is theft from a building, a building that the thief entered as a trespasser. It is not necessary for the thief to actually steal in order to be guilty; entering with intent to steal will suffice.
Nor does there have to be a forced entry, wandering in through an open door will be sufficient to be charged with burglary providing the intent is to steal.
Other intentions, such as find a lost cat or find a bed for the night mean that burglary has not been committed.
The police will seek to establish your intentions by interview, but not only the interview. There are other factors that may indicate your intentions to steal, such as carrying an empty holdall, wearing a balaclava or stacking up valuable items against the front door.
It is not necessary for the whole body to enter for the offence to be complete. A person who smashed a hole in a jeweller’s window and reaches in for a watch is equally guilty as the person who climbed in through the skylight.
A part of a building also counts if that part is entered as a trespasser. Therefore a shopper lawfully in a supermarket who enters the staff area to steal a staff hand bag is also guilty of burglary.
Robbery is theft from a person when force is used or threatened. Mugging is robbery. Holding a bank up with a fake or real gun is robbery because force is threatened.
Pick pocketing where no force is used or threatened. This is theft and is not robbery.
Making off without payment
Also called “Bilking”. This is where you run off without paying for something. Usually committed by a customer who decides to not pay for the meal he has just eaten and slips out of the door when the waiter is not looking. Usually committed by drunken young men at curry houses in the early hours.
Refusing to pay for a meal that you are not happy with is not “making off” and is a civil dispute; providing that you make it clear why you are not paying and provide your name and address to the restaurant. This would be unlikely to work if you and your party ate all three causes and polished off the wine!
This was introduced to plug the legal loophole. How can you steal something you can’t see or give back. This is used by the police when people bypass the electricity meter, particularly at cannabis plantations; when it is necessary to bypass the electricity meter otherwise the cultivation is not only less cost effective, but such a huge increase in power consumption can alert the authorities.