- Defined in s.1 of the Theft Act 1968 – ‘A person is guilty of theft if he dishonestly appropriates property belonging to another with the intention to permanently deprive the other of it’.
The AR of theft:
- Appropriation (s.3): ‘Any assumption by a person of the rights of the owner amount to appropriation, even if they have come across the property without stealing it, any later assumption of a right to it by keeping or dealing with it as owner’. Assuming the rights of the owner (Pitham & Hehl 1977). In the case of Morris it was held that there doesn’t have to be an assumption of all the rights but any rights of the owner. Corcoran v Anderton held that forcible tugging of a handbag could amount to an assumption of the rights of the owner (robbery). An act can still be an appropriation even if it’s done with consent of the owner (Lawrence & Gomez). The case of Gomez followed the decision in Lawrence on the issue of consent, the H of L disapproved the case of Morris on the basis that there didn’t have to be adverse interference. Consent without deception (Hinks 2000).
- Property (s.4): ‘Property includes money and all other property real or personal including things in action and other intangible property’. Dead body parts can be property (Kelly and Lindsay 1998). Real property – land and buildings. Things in action – bank accounts, cheque, copyright, registered trademarks, tickets. Intangible property – rights with no physical preference, in A-G of Hong Kong v Chan Nai – Keung an export quota for textiles was intangible property, a patent. In Oxford v Moss knowledge of questions on an examination paper was held not to be property. Things which cannot be stolen – wild plants and fungi (unless done for a reward or sale or other commercial purpose. Wild creatures, theft if from a zoo not from grounds of large estates. Electricity.
- Belonging to another (s.5): ‘property shall be regarded as belonging to any person having possession or control or it, or having in it any propriety right or interest’. Can be in possession or control of the property even if it is not theirs (Turner (No 2) 1971), or control of property even if they don’t know it’s there (Woodman 1974). S.5 makes clear that a D can be guilty of theft even though the property may not ‘belong to another’. These are situations where the D is acting dishonestly and has caused a loss to another or made a gain:
o Trust property, where a trustee can steal it.
o Property received under…