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Home Blog Stealing Offences in Western Australia (WA)

Stealing Offences in Western Australia (WA)

Anyone convicted of stealing as defined under the Criminal Code Act 1913 (WA) commits a crime and will receive punishments as prescribed by the Act. The offence of stealing encompasses more actions and behaviours in addition to moving or converting a property.

Part VI of Section 370 of the Act defines the behaviours, actions and deeds that constitute a stealing offence, and what item can be stolen.

What is a "stealable" item under the Law?

  1. Every inanimate thing which the property of any person is, and is capable of being movable. It also includes; items capable of being stolen as soon as it becomes movable, although it is made movable to steal it.
  2. Every tame animal, whether tame by nature or wild by nature and tamed, which is;
    1. The property of any person,
    2. Capable of being stolen.
    3. Excluding tame pigeons or birds are not capable of being stolen except while they are in a pigeon-house or on their owner’s land.

Offences for stealing are a criminal offence that will show up on a person's national criminal record check in WA in accordance with the spent convictions scheme.

What are Wild animals?

An animal in this context includes all living creatures asides a human, including any aquatic living organism.

Wild animals are capable of being stolen if they are;

Otherwise they are not considered as capable of being stolen.

What is stealing?

As defined under Section 371(1); A stealing offence is committed if the accused;

What is a fraudulent act?

Almost all fraudulent activities are the base cases for stealing offences. Under the Act, a fraudulent conversion occurs when the accused converts a property with intent to;

Attempted conversion and Stealing

It is immaterial in the court whether the accused converted the property for conversion or whether it was in their possession, control at the time of conversion. It also matters less that the accused is the holder of the power of attorney or authorized to dispose of it.

Lost and Found properties and Stealing offences

If a person loses their property, and it is found by the accused - the accused is not guilty if at the time of conversion if;

When is a stealing offence complete and irrefutable?

The act of stealing is not complete until the person taking or converting the thing actually moves it or otherwise actually deals with it by some physical activity.

Therefore, suspicion is not enough to convict a person of stealing an offence. The accuser must pro9ve that the person converted or attempted to convert the property.

What is a property/item in stealing offences?

In this context, property refers to all descriptions of real and personal items, including;

What is a special property?

A special property is defined as having a lien (claim) upon the property, including any right, will, proceeds or future investments on the property. It arises from the holding possession of the property.

Motor vehicles and Stealing

Section 371A considers it stealing a Motor vehicle if they unlawfully;


“Legal” Stealing offences

Even when a property legally comes to your possession, you may still be guilty of a stealing offence if;

Stealing for funds held under the direction

If an agent or a party receives money or other property from another person, with a direction of;

Who to give it to;

The property, and any proceeds from it, is still the property of the party that gives it until such directions are followed. And the receiver can be guilty of stealing if they go contrary to the directions or convert the property they receive.

However, if both parties already deal with each other based on a debtor, creditor basis, the receiver cannot be guilty of stealing unless the direction is in writing.

Stealing Offences in Proceeds of Sale;

If an agent or party receives a property, commodity, or other valuable with directions to;

For proceeds or exchange or any other gains, to the giver (whom it was received from).

The Property and proceeds belong to the person who gives out the property for exchange. And this direction forms a legal creditor-debtor relationship between them.

The agent who receives the property is guilty of stealing if they do not follow the directions or convert/attempt to convert the property for themselves.

Stealing Offences in Money / Property received for another

If a party or agent receives money, or other properties, through any means on behalf of another person, the money is considered the property of the person on whose behalf it is received.

An exception occurs if the money is received on the terms that it shall form an item in a;

Stealing by a person who has interests in the thing stolen

The Act of stealing under the Act is equal and non-sentimental, irrespective of whether the person who converts an item capable of being stolen;

Has a special property or interest in the property;

Penalties for stealing;

The law (Section 378 of the Act) prescribes punishments for anyone guilty of stealing property or a thing that is capable of being stolen. And where no other punishment is provided, it issues a penalty of 7 years imprisonment. Such offences will appear on a national police check result.

  1. If the thing stolen is a testamentary instrument, whether the testator is living or dead, the offender is liable to imprisonment for 10 years.

  2. The offender is liable to imprisonment for 8 years. If it was a motor vehicle stolen, and the offender drives it in a manner that constitutes an offence such as;
  3. The law stipulates punishments of a 10 years penalty if the offender is convicted of stealing an aircraft.

  4. The Criminal Code Act 1913 (WA) also stipulates imprisonment terms of 14 years for any of the following offences;

  1. If an offender is a person employed in the Public Service, and the offence includes; the property of Her Majesty or came into the offender's possession under their employment, he is liable to imprisonment for 10 years.

  2. If the offender is a director or officer of a corporation or company, and the item stolen is the property of the corporation or company, they are liable to imprisonment for 10 years.

  3. The offender will be liable for 10 years imprisonment term if the court convicts them for any of these stealing offences;

  1. Dismembering with intent to steal; Any person who makes anything movable with intent to steal it is guilty of the stealing offence and is liable to the same punishment as if he had stolen the thing after it became movable.

Attempted Stealing and Theft

The court can convict a person of attempts to commit any action described above under Section 552 of the Code.

An attempt to commit a stealing offence includes where the offender;


A person can still be guilty of attempted stealing, even if their attempt is prevented/thwarted by circumstances beyond their control. And the court will still convict them of attempted stealing offence if they aborted the initial plan.

Inciting another person to commit a steal

Section 533 of the code finds a person guilty of inciting another person to steal if they;

Penalties for inciting a person to commit a stealing offence

The court can issue penalties of up to 7 years imprisonment for such offences. However, depending on the value of what was stolen, the period may reduce.

Which courts hear a stealing offence?

Stealing offences are treated as indictable offences irrespective of the nature of the theft. And in Western Australia, stealing offences are heard in the District Court.

However, some lesser offences of stealing can be dealt with summarily in a Magistrate court.

Some of the offences that can be dealt with summarily are;

Cases that are not stealing

  1. If a wild animal on enjoying its natural freedom is killed by a person;

However, they must claim the game before it is claimed by the owner of the land or property where the animal died.

  1. When a factor or agent pledges or gives a lien on any goods or document of title to goods entrusted to him for sale or other properties, they cannot be guilty of stealing offences. [section 372 as amended]

Do stealing offences appear on national police checks in WA?

Yes, offences for stealing will show up on a person's national criminal background check certificate.

The offence is disclosed in accordance with the spent convictions legislation of WA.

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

Sources

Sections 370 - 378 of the Criminal Code Act 1913 (WA) – https://www.legislation.wa.gov.au/legislation/statutes.nsf/main_mrtitle_218_homepage.html

Road Traffic Act 1974 - https://www.legislation.wa.gov.au/legislation/statutes.nsf/main_mrtitle_848_homepage.html

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