Theft is often defined as the unauthorized taking of property from another with the intent to permanently deprive them of it. Within this definition lie two key elements:
- The taking of someone else’s property; and
- The requisite intent to deprive the victim of the property permanently.
The taking element in a theft typically requires seizing possession of property that belongs to another, and may also involve removing or attempting to remove the property. However, it is the element of intent where most of the complex legal challenges typically arise in theft-related cases.
For example, Alex goes to Patrick’s computer store, puts two flash drives in his pocket, and walks out the door intent of keeping them. Alex can be charged with theft. Had Alex stolen Patrick’s car from the parking lot, Alex would likely be charged with grand theft.