Elements of Theft

Section 1 of the Theft Act 1968 provides the legal definition of theft in English law. According to this section, a person commits theft if he dishonestly appropriates property belonging to another with the intention of permanently depriving the other of it. This definition can be divided into the following elements:

Dishonesty: The first requirement for theft is that the person must have acted dishonestly. This means that they must have known that taking the property was wrong, and that they did it with the intention of keeping it for themselves. This also means that the property must have been taken without the owner's consent. In other words, if the owner gave permission for the property to be taken, it cannot be considered theft.

Taking: The next requirement is that the person must have taken the property. This can include physical taking, but also includes situations where the person has control over the property (such as in cases of fraud or deception).

Property: The property that is taken must belong to someone else. It can include any type of property, including money, goods, and even animals.

Intention to permanently deprive: The person must have had the intention of permanently depriving the owner of the property. This means that they must have intended to keep it for themselves and not return it to the owner.

If all of these elements are present, the person can be charged with theft under s1 of the Theft Act 1968. The offence carries a maximum penalty of seven years' imprisonment.
Back to blog

UOL Case Bank

Upon joining, you become a valuable UOL student and gain instant access to over 2,100 case summaries. UOL Case Bank is constantly expanding. Speed up your revision with us now.

Subscribe Now

Where are our students from?

Yale University
Council of Europe
Baker Mckenzie 
University of Chicago
Columbia University
New York University
University of Michigan 
University College London (UCL)
London School of Economics (LSE)
King’s College London (KCL)
University of London
University of Manchester
University of Zurich
University of York
Brandeis University
University of Exeter
University of Sheffield
Boston University
University of Washington
University of Leeds
University of Law
Royal Holloway, University of London 
Birkbeck, University of London
SOAS, University of London
University of Kent
University of Hull
Queen’s University Belfast
Toronto Metropolitan University
Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
University of Buckingham

  • Criminal Practice

    Diagrams and Charts

    Our carefully designed diagrams and charts will guide you through complex legal issues.

  • Criminal Law

    Clear and Succinct Definitions

    Key concepts are concisely defined to help you understand legal topics quickly.

  • Property Law

    Statutory Provisions

    Statutory provisions are provided side by side with legal concepts to help you swiftly locate the relevant legislation.

  • Public Law

    Case Summaries

    We have summarised important cases for you so that you don't need to read long and boring cases.

  • Evidence

    Rules and Exceptions

    Rules and exceptions are clearly listed so that you know when a rule applies and when it doesn't.

  • Company Law


    Legal terms and key concepts are explained at the beginning of each chapter to help you learn efficiently.

  • Case Law

    Case law is provided side by side with legal concepts so that you know how legal principles and precedents were established.

  • Law Exam Guide

    Law Essay Guide

    You will learn essential law exam skills and essay writing techniques that are not taught in class.

  • Law Exam Guide

    Problem Question Guide

    We will show you how to answer problem questions step by step to achieve first-class results.

  • Conflict of Laws

    Structured Explanations

    Complex legal concepts are broken down into concise and digestible bullet point explanations.

  • Legal System and Method

    Legal Research

    You will learn legal research techniques with our study guide and become a proficient legal researcher.

  • Jurisprudence and Legal Theory


    All essential concepts, principles, and case law are included so that you can answer exam questions quickly.