Theft & Robbery


Did You Know

There were over 50,000 robbery offences recorded by police in England and Wales between July 2014 and June 2015.

Theft and robbery are very similar crimes that involve taking or attempting to take personal property. They cover shoplifting, mugging and many other crimes of varying seriousness.


Theft is the criminal offence of dishonestly taking (commonly referred to as appropriating) someone else’s property both without their consent and with the intention of permanently depriving them of it.

This offence falls under the Theft Act of 1968, and has five main elements that are used to establish it as a criminal offence. These are: appropriation, property, property belonging to another, dishonesty, and the intention to permanently deprive.

Theft comes in many different forms such as: shoplifting, burglary, etc. Typically the greater the value of what is stolen; the more seriously the crime of theft is regarded. Furthermore, it is also considered more serious if the theft has been planned in advance. 

Theft carries a maximum prison sentence of seven years.


Robbery is the criminal offence of forcibly threatening to steal or actually forcibly stealing from a person.  It is often described as a form of aggravated theft in the sense that the offence of theft is established.  However, additional elements that elevate it from being just a theft are the presence of a victim and the use of force, a threat, or intimidation towards the victim (either before or during the theft).

This offence also falls under the Theft Act of 1968 (Section 8) and it has five main elements that are used to establish it as a criminal offence. These are: the act of theft, the use of or threat of force, before or during the theft, on a person, and use/threat of force in order to steal.

Sentencing for robbery is dependent on the nature of the robbery committed.  Committing a violent robbery using a weapon would mean that you would receive a much longer sentence than one committed without. Furthermore, robbery is deemed to be more serious if the victim is weak or vulnerable (i.e. an old person or a child). Like theft, it is also considered to be more serious if it is planned in advance rather than occurring on the spur of the moment.

Robbery carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

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