Theft Act 1968

Theft Act 1968

The Theft Act 1968 (1968 c.60) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, governing most of the general property offences in English law. On 15 January 2007 the Fraud Act 2006 came into force repealing most of the offences of deception.


The Theft Act 1968 resulted from the efforts of the Criminal Law Revision Committee to reform the English law of theft. The Larceny Act 1916 had codified the common law, including larceny itself, but it remained a complex web of offences. The intention of the Theft Act 1968, was to replace the existing law of larceny and other deception-related offences, by a single enactment, creating a more coherent body of principles that would allow the law to evolve to meet new situations. The Act received the Royal Assent on 26 July 1968.

Basic definition of theft

The basic definition of theft is defined in S.1(1) of the Act.The Act states that

A person shall be guilty of theft if he dishonestly appropriates property belonging to another with the intention of permanently depriving the other of it.

Offences created

A number of greatly simplifiedndash or at least less complicatedndash offences were created which all incorporate the element of dishonesty:
*all the variety of larcenies and conversion in the Larceny Act 1916 were brought into a single offence as defined in s1 of theft;
*aggravated forms of theft involving the threat or use of violence were consolidated under s8 into robbery;
*burglary and all the different forms of housebreaking, shopbreaking, etc were captured under s9 as the single heading of burglary;
*specific offences were created in s12 to cover the taking of bicycles and TWOC to cover the offence of joy-riding or sitting in the car while another drives it away without the owner's consent:
*abstracting electricity ndash the "theft" of electricity which had been included in the Act 1916 was retained in s13;
*for historically valid but now redundant reasons, a specific offence was created to protect art galleries, museums, etc;
*the basic pattern of deception offences was established in the Act 1968, and then amended in the Theft Act 1978 and the Theft (Amendment) Act 1996 which addressed some of the problems that had arisen in the enforcement of the law (for the definition of "deception, see criminal deception). There are now five offences, namely::(a) obtaining property by deception under s15 Theft Act 1968;:(b) obtaining a money transfer by deception under ss15A and 15B Theft Act 1968 (see Act 1996);:(c) obtaining a pecuniary advantage by deception under s16 Theft Act 1968;:(d) obtaining services by deception under s1 Theft Act 1978; and:(e) evasion of liability by deception under s2 Theft Act 1978;:It is also an offence to make off without paying. This does not require a deception.
*Section 17 creates an offence of false accounting which includes both active falsification and physical destruction of records with intent to cause loss to another. Section 19 adds liability for any officer of a corporation or legal entity who publishes false accounts with intent to deceive members or creditors of the body corporate or association about its affairs.
*Section 21 consolidates the offence of blackmail if, with a view to gain for himself or another or with intent to cause loss to another, he makes any unwarranted demand with menaces
*the range of offences previously described as "receiving" were consolidated under ss22 "et seq" into handling which covers any situation in which a person assists a thief by buying the stolen goods or assisting in their disposal, etc.


The Fraud Act 2006 repeals the following Theft Act offences:

*Obtaining property by deception (Theft Act 1968, section 15)

*Obtaining a money transfer by deception (Theft Act 1968, section 15A)

*Obtaining pecuniary advantage by deception (Theft Act 1968, section 16)

*Dishonestly procuring execution of a valuable security (Theft Act 1968, section 20 (2))

*Obtaining services by deception (Theft Act 1978, section 1)

*Securing the remission of an existing liability to make a payment (Theft Act 1978, section 2 (1) (a))

*Dishonestly inducing a creditor to wait for payment or to forgo payment with the intention of permanently defaulting on all or part of an existing liability (Theft Act 1978, section 2 (1) (b))

*Obtaining an exemption from or abatement of liability to make a payment (Theft Act 1978, section 2 (1) (c))

ee also

*Theft Act 1978


*Allen, Michael. "Textbook on Criminal Law". Oxford: Oxford University Press. (2005) ISBN 0-19-927918-7.
*Criminal Law Revision Committee. 8th Report. Theft and Related Offences. Cmnd. 2977
*Griew, Edward. "Theft Acts 1968 & 1978", Sweet & Maxwell. ISBN 0-421-19960-1
*Martin, Jacqueline. "Criminal Law for A2", Hodder Arnold (2006). ISBN 978-0-340-91452-6
*Ormerod, David. "Smith and Hogan Criminal Law", 11th Ed., Oxford: Oxford University Press. (2005) ISBN 0-406-97730-5
*Smith, J. C. "Law of Theft", LexisNexis: London. (1997) ISBN 0-406-89545-7

External links

* [ Fraud Act: Fraud]
* [ Fraud Act: Possession, making and supply articles for use in frauds; obtaining services dishonestly]
* [ Theft Act 1968]

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