Theft Definition

The generic term for all crimes in which a person intentionally takes personal property of another without permission or consent and with the intent to convert it to the taker's use (including potential sale). In many states, when the value of the property taken is low (for example, less than $500) the crime is "petty theft" and a misdemeanor; but it is "grand theft" and a felony for larger amounts. Theft is synonymous with "larceny." Although robbery (taking by force), burglary (taking after entering unlawfully), and embezzlement (stealing from an employer) are all commonly thought of as theft, they are distinguished by the means and methods used, and are separately designated as specific types of crimes in criminal charges and statutory punishments. (See also: larceny, robbery, burglary, embezzlement)