Theft, Larceny and Grand Larceny: Stealing Property without Consent

Theft steadling

Following is an overview of crimes related to theft, including a description of the general act of stealing and the charges of larceny and grand larceny.

What is Theft?

Theft, in its simplest terms is stealing. Theft occurs when a person takes, or steals, property or items that do not belong to them.  Theft is often used as an informal term for crimes against property, such as:

  • Burglary– usually involves breaking into someone’s home or car and stealing items
  • Embezzlement– occurs when individuals steal money or property from a business, usually a business they work for
  • Larceny– Taking another persons property away
  • Looting – occurs most often during times of natural disaster or rioting, where individuals enter homes or businesses and remove items or property that does not belong to them
  • Robbery – this type of theft usually occurs at gun point, or with the threat of harm
  • Shoplifting – occurs when property is illegally removed from a business
  • Fraud – fraud usually involves a plot or scheme to steal money or property from an individual or a group of people
  • Criminal conversion

In some jurisdictions, theft is considered to be synonymous with larceny; in others, the crime of theft has replaced that of larceny.

Someone who carries out an act of or makes a career of theft is known as a thief.

The act of theft is known by many other terms, such as stealing, robbing, and jacking.

Private eyes are often hired to investigate theft cases, embezzlement, and fraud.  Whether it is a stolen car, or stolen personal items, a skilled private investigator can help solve your theft case and possibly retrieve your stolen items.

Larceny: Taking or Stealing Personal Property

Definition of Larceny

Larceny is a form of theft. Larceny involves the taking and carrying away of personal property without the owner’s consent. The terms ‘petty larceny’ and ‘grand larceny’ refer to the value of items that were taken.

Petty Larceny

Petty larceny is a term used in many states for theft of a small amount of money or items that have little value (such as less than $500). Petty larceny is considered to be a misdemeanor and is usually punishable at maximum with a term in the county jail. States which only use the term “larceny,” often treat theft of a smaller amounts as a misdemeanor in sentencing.

Grand Larceny

Grand larceny is the crime of theft of another’s property (including money) that exceeds a certain value (for example, $500). Grand larceny is distinguished from petty (or petit) larceny in which the value is below the grand larceny limit.

Some states only recognize the crime of larceny, but draw the line between a felony (punishable by state prison time) and a misdemeanor (local jail and/or fine) based on the amount of the loot.

More Information

For more legal definitions, visit our Glossary of Legal and Investigation Terms.

To hire a private investigator in your area that specializes in investigating theft cases, visit our Private Investigator Directory.


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