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To wonder how you can define 'theft?'

(65 Posts)
user1491678180 Wed 01-Nov-17 11:28:44

After seeing a thread on here that I read with interest (and confusion) I am wondering if someone who knows more about the law, can confirm what 'theft' actually is?

The thread was on about whether someone's cat can be stolen. The answer from most people was 'of course it can.' Because it's a possession that belongs to someone, and is registered to them; and many searches on the internet showed this to be true, including one someone posted on page 8 of that thread


That makes it quite clear you can indeed steal someone's cat, and it is 'theft.'

Yet someone else said if they just feed the cat, and pet it, and it 'chooses them,' then they are not stealing it. confused

They also posted something from the 'Theft' act.

Which basically states that taking something is not theft if you did not intend to keep the item permanently, and intended to give the item back.

So surely if that is the case, we can all take stuff, from friends, and neighbours, and colleagues, and our employers, and shops and stores, and say that we didn't intend to keep it, so it's not stealing. confused And if they can't prove otherwise, we won't get charged with theft surely? Hey Mr Jones, yeah I took your lawnmower 3 weeks ago, but it's only in my garage and I was going to bring it back.' 'Hey Mr policeman, I took the dress from H & M, but I only wanted it for a few days, so I have something to wear for the party. I was going to bring it back!'

How can anyone prove I intended to keep the item permanently?

And if they can't, then surely it's not theft? That is what that link to the theft act is inferring.

Enlighten me someone. I am confused by all these grey areas! confused

IDoLikeARainbow Wed 01-Nov-17 11:37:55

Theft is the ‘intention to permanently deprive’.
Joyriding for example does not come with a ‘theft’ conviction but rather a ‘TWOC’ or taking without owner’s consent.

user1491678180 Wed 01-Nov-17 12:04:39

Thanks, but how can anyone prove they were not going to keep something?

And how can the person you have taken the item from, prove you intended to keep it if you say 'I was going to give it back!'

As I said, by this token, we could all take stuff and just say 'hey it's OK, I was going to give it back!' No more theft convictions for anyone else ever.! confused

TWOC is a criminal offence still, and is only applicable in Scotland.

I am pretty sure taking someone's car (or cat!) is stealing and will give you a criminal record for stealing.

LurkingHusband Wed 01-Nov-17 12:10:34

Theft is the ‘intention to permanently deprive’.

There has to be an element of dishonesty, surely ?

MyLearnedFriend Wed 01-Nov-17 12:34:29

user1491678180 - TWOC is certainly an offence in England and Wales!


The Dishonest
Appropriation (Taking)
Of property
Belonging to another
With the intention to permanently deprive (E.g., you're not going to return it to the rightful owner)

So - the physical act is the taking
The mental element is the dishonesty and the intention to permanently deprive

If a tribunal (Mags/jury) are sure all are in place = guilty.

MyLearnedFriend Wed 01-Nov-17 12:37:48

And TWOC only applies to conveyances - e.g., you can't TWOC a cat...

Walnutwhiplash Wed 01-Nov-17 12:39:00

All elements of theft are defined in the Theft Act

MyLearnedFriend Wed 01-Nov-17 12:39:51

And to answer your actual question:

"How can anyone prove I intended to keep the item permanently? "

Through the facts. Words and actions. They will look at what you actually did and inferences can be drawn if appropriate.

user1491678180 Wed 01-Nov-17 12:42:12

Thanks for the responses.

There are a lot of grey areas aren't there? confused

MyLearnedFriend Wed 01-Nov-17 12:44:44

Not really! Don't dishonestly take things that aren't yours and you'll be fine wink

babsthebuilder Wed 01-Nov-17 12:45:41

Feeding a visiting cat that chooses to visit you is completely different to taking someone’s car without their consent but with the intention of taking itself home after you’ve given it a saucer of petrol.

I agree there is a grey area, but “surely we can just take stuff” isn’t really the same thing.

MyLearnedFriend Wed 01-Nov-17 12:51:31

If you literally cat-napped next door's moggie (E.g., grabbing it, shoving it in a cat box) and taking it to your house, then prevented it from leaving or returning to it's own home, that would easily be theft.

If you just put out treats and was nice to the cat so that it wanted to stay with you, (and it did) then let it come and go as it pleased, that is not theft.


DJBaggySmalls Wed 01-Nov-17 12:54:14

You can prove you dont intend to keep the item by handing it over to a solicitor (eg in the case of some files), handing it to the police or RSPCA, or returning it to the owner.

You cant walk out of a shop claiming you only intend to borrow the item because shops dont lend things.

Nishky Wed 01-Nov-17 12:56:51

What makes you say that TWOC is only applicable in Scotland?

user1491678180 Wed 01-Nov-17 12:59:39

Not really! Don't dishonestly take things that aren't yours and you'll be fine

GOT IT! grin

If you just put out treats and was nice to the cat so that it wanted to stay with you, (and it did) then let it come and go as it pleased, that is not theft.

Ahhh I see. If I do the same with someone's dog, or child, I assume that's OK too? wink I will tempt my neighbour's 2 lovely children with my freshly baked cookies, and put an X box and playstation in my spare bedroom (and a laptop, and a tv with sky, and also netflix.) The children shall love me so much, and realise their are parents shit, and I treat them better, and they will come live with me.

There won't be any problem with that of course, because they chose me? Right?

Yeah I think I'm getting it now. smile

user1491678180 Wed 01-Nov-17 13:01:39

What makes you say that TWOC is only applicable in Scotland?

sizenines Wed 01-Nov-17 13:02:23

Taking without permission is not borrowing since the owner of the property does not know whether the item is gone permanently or temporarily, or even who has it, and it is therefore not lent.

MyLearnedFriend Wed 01-Nov-17 13:04:27

I'll say it again

TWOC is an offence in England and Wales (If memory serves, s.12 of the Theft Act)

And if you want to be accused of grooming/kidnap, you go right ahead...

MyLearnedFriend Wed 01-Nov-17 13:05:23

And that link says:

"TADA or TDA is specifically a criminal offence under section 178 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 that applies only to Scotland"

That's not TWOC. It's the Scottish equivalent...

PhilODox Wed 01-Nov-17 13:05:23

Cats are sentient beings, and cannot belong to anyone other than themselves.
So, you cannot steal a cat. However, one could kidnap, and hold a cat against its will (as every "owner" that has locked a cat in overnight will attest- they protest!)

user1491678180 Wed 01-Nov-17 13:06:13

No I don't want to be accused of grooming or kidnapping anyone's cat or dog, so should I not tempt them to my house with treats then?

user1491678180 Wed 01-Nov-17 13:06:48

Yes you can steal a cat. Look at the link in my first post!

MyLearnedFriend Wed 01-Nov-17 13:08:06

You can't criminally groom a dog or cat (I could make a million jokes about pet salons here...) and you can't criminally kidnap an animal. Those are different offences.


MyLearnedFriend Wed 01-Nov-17 13:09:40

As above. I've explained how you can steal a cat.

And oddly enough, I'll prefer my own knowledge over pets at Home/Sixth form law...

Urubu Wed 01-Nov-17 13:14:30


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