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  • Home Resources & Technical Articles Criminal Offence Topics (A to Z) Stealing Offences Stealing Offences and Penalties in South Australia (SA)

    Stealing Offences and Penalties in South Australia (SA)

    Greediness is a quality of human nature but sometimes it increases and makes people do wrongs and commit offences. It can be in the form of stealing things from others i.e. robbery, theft, larceny and all. Not only greediness, but joblessness, bad economic conditions and poverty can also lead people to commit stealing offences.

    In this article, we will discuss stealing offences in South Australia and its penalties. There are specific stealing offences in South Australia which are recognized by the law in SA.

    Stealing offences are displayed on a national criminal record check in SA.

    The offence for stealing will show up as a disclosable court outcome on the individual's national police check result.

    Stealing Offences in South Australia

    There are numerous offences that are classified as stealing in South Australia. It can be violent like robbery and non-violent i.e. larceny. It may also include stealing in-tangible property like person identity and copyrights. To deal with all these offences, the South Australian government has formulated a law that classifies them on the basis of type of property stolen and the way or situation in which it was stolen.

    These offenses have different necessary elements which are important to prove it as an offence. Furthermore penalties are detailed by the law and any defenses which can be availed will also be discussed.

    The various kinds of stealing offences in South Australia are found in Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935 (SA) while for minor shoplifting offences, the Shop Theft (Alternative Enforcement) Act 2000.

    Stealing offences in South Australia along with its penalties are described below:

    1. Theft

    A theft is a criminal act recognized by the Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935, it deals with the offence when you deprive someone of their property permanently, or sometimes you encroach their property in such a way that you ought their ownership rights. When these actions are done without the consent of the owner then it is termed as theft according to the Act.

    Section 134

    Section 134 of the Act deals with the theft. It defines theft as;

    • If a person deals dishonestly with the property or without the consent of the owner, then he is termed as guilty.
    • If a person intends to permanently deprive a person from the property, or if he intends, in making serious encroachments to an owner’s proprietary rights.

    Section 134 also states that a person is intended in making serious encroachments to an owner’s proprietary rights if the person intends;

    • To treat another person's property as his own, regardless of the fact of the owner’s rights.
    • In dealing with another person’s property which gives rise to substantial risk.

    According to Section 134 it is also possible to commit the act of theft as follows;

    • If a property comes lawfully into his/her possession, he can also commit theft of property then too.
    • A person is termed to be committing theft, if he misuses the powers which are vested within his vicinity.

    Maximum Penalty

    According to Section 134 of the Act, the penalty for theft varies according to the nature of offence committed during theft.

    For a basic offence the maximum penalty is kept as 10 years of imprisonment and compensation.

    For aggravated offence the maximum penalty is kept as 15 years of imprisonment and compensation too.


    Several defenses are available in the matter of thefts which are subjected to the matter of question of fact. Sometimes theft committed in a way that there happens to be a defect in the transfer of property then such matters may not be counted into theft.

    So it depends on the question of fact, which can be used as a defense against theft.

    For example:

    If A entrusts B with his or her property for the purpose of mortgages. B then dishonestly mortgages the property as a scrutiny for the purpose of the person’s liability. In this case B is committing theft of the property which is entrusted to him/her by A.

    1. Robbery

    If during the action of theft you threaten to use force, or if you use force to another person then you have committed robbery which is also a serious criminal offence in South Australia recognised by the Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935.

    Section 137:

    Section 137 of the Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935 deals with robbery;

    • a) A person committing theft is guilty of robbery if;
    • Force is used or someone is threatened to use force for the purpose of committing the theft.
    • Force is used or someone is threatened to use force in order to escape from the scene where the theft is committed.
    • b) If the using or threatening of using the force is used before or after, or at the time of the theft.
    • c) If more than one person commits robbery they are both equally guilty of the robbery.

    Maximum Penalty

    The maximum penalty according to Section 137 dealing with robbery is described as;

    • For basic offences the imprisonment of 15 years.
    • For an aggravated offence in the robbery the penalty is life imprisonment.

    Defense Available

    The defense available in the act of robbery varies depending on the circumstances and the gravity of the action. It again comes to the question of fact. The question of act and availability of evidence can serve as defense.

    For Example:

    For example A and B plans to steal money from C, A assaults C while B takes the money. Both of them A and B both are guilty of robbery under Section 137.

    In these cases the robbery is treated as aggravated robbery. According to the principles both the parties A and B are guilty separately for the aggravated robbery.

    1. Serious Criminal Trespass

    When you enter another person's property for the purpose of committing theft this is termed as “serious criminal trespass”. This is treated as the criminal offence of serious criminal trespass under the Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935.

    Section 170A

    Section 170A of the Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935 deals with criminal trespass, it states that;

    1. A person has committed trespass if he enters a place of residence in his presence. If the trespasser knows that another person who is lawfully entitled or not is present in the place or if he is reckless about the presence of another person then he is termed in both the cases as the trespasser.
    2. Place of residence, which means a vehicle, structure or a building or even a part of a specific building.

    Maximum Penalty

    The maximum penalty available for a basic serious trespass is 3 years of imprisonment. Sometimes during an aggravated trespass the imprisonment can vary up to 5 years of imprisonment.The penalty or remedies of the trespass can also include compensation in some regular cases.


    The defenses in case of the serious trespass are very little because a trespass is a trespass even if it is committed without touching anything. Seeing through your eyes inside a place of residence is a trespass too.

    1. Shoplifting

    Shoplifting is a form of theft and sometimes for minor shoplifting offences the alleged criminal can be issued with a shoplifting notice of infringement.

    The shoplifting cases are generally made to receive compensation for the losses. Depending on the circumstances, sometimes you won’t be required to go to court.

    The Act that deals with shop thefts in SA is the Shop Theft (Alternative Enforcement) Act 2000.

    Issue of Shop theft infringement notice:

    If a police officer is satisfied that,

    • The allegation made against a culprit is of the nature of minor shoplifting theft.
    • The offender is 18 years or over (e.g. not a Juvenile).
    • The offender is not an employee of the victim.
    • There is reasonable evidence which can be used to find the alleged offender.


    The penalties in the case of minor shoplifting acts are usually in terms of compensation of money. Compensation of the value of the item is termed as the regular penalty. Offenders are not required to go to the court unless in serious cases summoned by the court.


    There are a lot of defenses available to the minor shoplifting theft. These defenses commonly deal with the prescribed value of the product. Sometimes it deals with the evidence presented against the offender.

    Do stealing offences show up on a Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check in South Australia (SA)?

    Yes, stealing offences committed in the state of South Australia will show up on a national police check result if there was a court conviction recorded against the individual in question.

    The offence is displayed in accordance with the Spent Convictions legislation of South Australia.

    You can obtain your criminal record check online via the Australian National Character Check (ANCC®) website.

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