Property offences


What is theft?

Defined in s.1 of the Theft act 1968.

"A person is gulity of theft if he dishonestly appropriates property belonging to another with the intention to permanently depriving the other of it".

Actus reus:

s.3 appropriates,

s.4 property,

s.5 belonging to another.

Mens rea:

s.2 Dishonestly,

s.6 intention to permanently deprive.

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Actus reus part 1- s.3 Appropriates

Appropriates-assumption by a person of the rights of any owner.

  • assuming owners rights;MORRIS 1983 D had appropriated.

Meaning of appropriation is wide.

  • Right to sell property;PITHAM AND HEHL 1977 C O A held offer to sell is appropriation, Doesnt matter that the furniture wasnt removed.
  • Can be appropriation if owner of property consented to D taking it;GOMEZ 1993  H O L held appropriation was still there.
  • Can be appropriation if owner of the property has made a legal gift the D;HINKS 2009  Was an appropriation.

Appropriation accours as soon as one of the owner's rights is assumed:GOMEZ.

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Actus reus part 1- s.3 Property

Property =money, real, personal , other thing in action and other intangible property.

  • Money- coins and banknotes.
  • Real property- land and buildings. stolen under s.4(2) if;1) D severs something from land and 2) D is a tenant and removes somethings which is considrered a fixture or structure of the rented accommidation. Growing wild which belongs to another is theft if it is taken for sale/ reward/commercial purpose:s.4(3).
  • Personal- all moveable items.Dead bodies KELLY AND LINDSAY 1998. Wild creatures only personal if tamed or kept in captivity s.4(4).
  • A thing in action- right to enforce against another person by a court action.
  • Intangible- property that does exist in a physicl sense. Electricty is NOT property s.4(1) OXFORD V MOSS 1979 held not property under s.4(1).
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Actus reus part 3- s.5 belonging to another

Belonging to another= beloning to any person having possession or control of it.

Possession/control does NOT have to be lawful.

  • Possible to steal your own property under someone else's possession/control TURNER (NO 2) 1971 garage had control/possession at the time D appropriated, D guilty of theft.
  • Possible for someone to be in possession or control even thought they do not know it is there WOODMAN 1974  irrelevant that V didnt know the property was there,still belonged to V.

s.5(3) property handed to D by V and there is a legal obligation on D to keep ir or deal with it in a particular way.

  • DAVIDGE V BUNNETT 1984 was legal obligation to deal with money in a particular way, money still belonged to flatmate. 
  • Must be obligation to keep/ deal with property in particular way  HALL 1972 no legal obligation to del with the deposits in particular way.
  • s.5(4) D recieves property by mistake, legal obligation to give it back, then still belongs to another A-G REFERENCE (NO 1 OF 1983) 1985  C O A held in future would be an Legal obligation to give the overpayment back, still belonged to emplyees bank.
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Mens rea part 1- Dishonestly

No definition of 'dishonestly' CAN be dishonest if:

  • s.1(2) Dishonest even if he appropriates the property without a view to gain.
  • s.2(2) May be dishonest even though D is willing to pay for the property
  • 1968 act give 3 situations which are NOT dishonest:

-He has in law the right to reprive the other of it, on behalf of himself or of a thrid person s.2(1)(a).

-He would have the other's consent if the other know of the appropriation and circumstances of it s.2(1)(b).

-Person whom the property belongs cannot be discovered by taking reasonable stepsb s.2(1)(c).

  • D's belief in any of the above (a,b,c) only has to be genuine, does not have to be reasonable belief SMALL 1987  C O A quashed conviction of theft as D genuinely beleived the owner could not be found. not dishonest under s.2(1)(c).
  • If s.2 DOESN'T apply the test for dishonestly from the civil case IVEY V GENTING CASINOS 2017 must be used.
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Mens rea part 2 -intention to permanently deprive

D will have an intention to permanently deprive if he picks property up (appropriation) and then has a change of mind and puts it back where he found it.

  • VELUMYL 1989  had the intention to permanently deprive of the actual banknotes.different banknotes is still theft.
  • s.6 D has intention to treat it as his own to dispose of regardless of the other's rights.
  • D takes V's property with the intention to sell it back to V DPP V LAVENDER 1994  Divisional court held this amounted to theft as he intended to treat the doors as his own property.
  • Borrowing property can be theft if when returned its value has gone LLOYD 1985  C O A QUASHED theft intention was not to return when value was gone.
  • Problem of D having conditional permanently deprive. where D picks up and examines property intending to take it if its worth stealing EASON 1971  C O A QUASHED theft not sufficent for the crime of theft.
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What is robbery?

Defined in s.8 of the theft act 1986.

" a person is gulity of robbery if he steals, and immediately before or at the time of doing so, and in order to do so, he uses force onn any person or purts or seeks to put any person in fear of being then and there subjected to force".

Actus reus:

all actus reus elements of theft


immediatley before or at the time of the theft.

Mens rea:

all elements of mens rea of theft

intended to use or threaten force on any person in order to steal.

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Actus reus robbery- appropriation

Moment appropriation is complete there is a robbery, D does not have to escape with the property.

CORCORAN V ANDERTON 1980 C O A held the convioction of robbery, there was complete theft and force was used in order to steal. 

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Actus reus robbery- s.8 force

force can be used on any person in order to steal or D can put any7 person in fear of force in order to steal.

  • D uses force, amount force can be small  DAWSON AND JAMES 1976 the push was sufficent to be used of force, jury decide if force was used.
  • D would put any person in fear of force, V apprehends that force might be used if he/she resists in handling over the property. No force needed to be applied to v.
  • Force must be used or threatened in order to steal.
  • Force must be used or threatened on any person   P V DPP 2012  Divisonal court quashed for robbery as there was no physical contact with V.acceptable that force could be applied indirectly.
  • Forced is used or threatened by7 D1 but D2 steals the property, this can still be robbery HALE 1979.


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Actus reus robbery- immediately before or at the t

  • Force or threat must not occur after the theft is complete ,approperiation can be continuing actHALE 1979 C O A upheld the conviction of robbery as appropriation can be a contiuning act.  
  • NOT robbery if D gets V to part with property by threatening to use force in the future.
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Mens rea of robbery-mens rea of theft

If D has not committed theft he cannot be convicted of robbery, even though he uses force to deprive V of the property. ROBINSON 1977 C O A quashed as one of the elements of theft was missing: dishonest under s.2(1)(a) was missing.

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Mens rea of robbery- other 2 elements:intended and

1)intended to use or threaten force on any person in order to steal. 

2)seeks to put any person in fear of force in order to steal:

  • No need for V to be in fear, nor to actually apprehend force B AND R V DPP 2007 divisional court upheld the convictions of robbery on the grounds that: no need for V to actually be fearful, there could be an implied threat of force and some limited use of force by the D's.
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