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Home Blog Stealing & Larceny Offences in New South Wales (NSW)

Stealing & Larceny Offences in New South Wales (NSW)

Stealing offences in NSW are one of the popular offences treated in courts. A reason for this is the subsuming nature of stealing offences, and how it cuts into all aspects of a misdemeanour in NSW.

Stealing offences in NSW are common as larceny, extortion, illegal obtaining, embezzling, theft, robbery and other offences stipulated under the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW). When hearing stealing offences in NW, the court will usually consider;

If you are convicted of a stealing offence in a NSW court, the offence will show up as a disclosable court outcome (DCO) on a police record check in NSW.

The offence will be displayed on the certificate in accordance with NSW’s spent convictions scheme.

What is stealing?

A stealing offence is committed where the accused moved or attempted to move a possession that is capable of being stolen. The court will not consider it a stealing offence if the item was not “capable of being stolen”.

The Act defines stealing offence occurs when;

What is not considered stealing under the law?

Not all instances of a person moving an item/property can qualify as a stealing offence. It can hardly qualify as stealing if the;

  1. Item is moved for temporal use (without the consent of the owner) unless the taker plans to use the item as theirs.
  2. If the person takes the item by mistake (and proves it), it is not considered a stealing offence. An example can be driving another person's car in a groggy/drunken state.
  3. If the person believed they were legally justified to the property at the time, it is not considered stealing. It is still not a stealing offence if their belief was wrong but didn’t know at the time.

Offences of Fraudulent taking

It is a fraudulent activity if you used or devised tricks, false statements, forged testament or portfolios to convert a person’s property unlawfully.

Under the act, a fraudulent taking case occurs where;

the jury may return a verdict accordingly, and thereupon the person shall be liable to imprisonment for two years, or to a fine of 20 penalty units, or both.

What is the offence of Larceny?

Larceny is the offence of taking, tricking or defrauding a person or group from their property. It does not matter what the value of the property or the value that was stolen. However, larceny is a stealing offence that did not include violence.

The maximum penalty that is stipulated for Larceny offences in the state of NSW is 5 years imprisonment, or 2 years if dealt with in the Local Court.

Other stealing related offences

While all of these events are related to stealing offences, they have separate legislation and punishments under the law.

Punishments for Stealing and Larceny offences

The offence of larceny is listed under the Crimes Act of NSW. It means that irrespective of the nature of the offence, or

The incident will be considered the same in court.

Furthermore, the offence of larceny has prescribed punishments in Section 117 of the Act.

If the court convicts a person of larceny, except for prescribed cases, it will impose penalties up to imprisonment for five years.

  1. “Intent” to return property is no defence

Section 118 of the Act outlines that if a person is charged for larceny, and the court discovers that the accused person intended to return or restore the property to the owner after they have converted it. It does not mean an automatic acquittal from the charge. And the court will impose a minimum punishment for such an offence.

  1. Cases where several takings proved

If the property is stolen, was taken in little quantities or divisions, over a period, and the court adjudges it a stealing offence in their bits. However, the prosecutor cannot elect on which of the taking the court will proceed.

  1. Stealing Offences handled in a District Court

Under the Act, the District Court judge will impose a penalty of up to 14 years imprisonment. However, if the matter is handled by a local court (Summary offence), the maximum punishment is 2-year imprisonment.

The evidence should not have occurred more than six months in point of time from any other of such takings.

  1. Larceny offences for receiving stolen goods

If the court is convinced with all available evidence that you have received or purchased the proceeds of a larceny offence, the court will find you guilty of that larceny offence. The court will impose a 5-year imprisonment term and any other punishments specified by the law.

Under the Crimes Act, it is unlawful to receive or purchase a stolen item or proceeds from it.

  1. Indicted Larceny offences

If a group is charged for the larceny offence, and the Judge finds the party or people guilty of stealing offences, they will impose the appropriate penalties to them all. The maximum penalty the court imposes for such an offence is a 5-year imprisonment term.

It also includes; larceny and stealing offences of;

  1. Minor indictable offences

If the court convicts the person of minor indictable offences other than the stealing offences, they will prescribe punishments following the Crimes Act. The minor indictable offences include those that may have constituted the offence but are not a stealing offence.

  1. Stealing offences by a bailee/agent/trustee

A bailee in this context; is a person who holds or keeps a property in trust for another person. However, if they convert this property or any part of it as theirs, or for another other than the owner, shall be guilty of a stealing offence.

A person can be a bailee even if they are not contracted or entrusted to keep/restore the property.

  1. Stealing property in a dwelling-house

The law prescribes punishments of seven (7) years to those guilty of stealing in a dwelling-house or any other property

  1. Stealing offences involving an Aircraft

The Part 154B of the Crimes Act stipulates the following penalty for those convicted of any of these offences;

Stealing an aircraft incurs a 10 years imprisonment.

For related offences, as where the person attempts to or;

  1. Stealing Firearms

In NSW, an individual who steals a firearm is then liable to an imprisonment term for up to 14 years.

In this context, a firearm has the same meaning as in the Firearms Act 1996. This rule includes a firearm that is an imitation within the meaning of Frimearms Act.

  1. Stealing from a ship in distress or wrecked

A person guilty of stealing offences, or plundering, any part of a distressed, wrecked or stranded vessel, or any property of any kind to the value of two dollars belonging to such vessel, shall be liable to imprisonment for ten years.

  1. Stealing offences by tenants

Where a temporal occupier of a building (tenant) steals any part of the property from the building to be converted for their gain, the court will find them guilty of larceny offences. Such offences incur penalties of 5 years imprisonment

  1. Stealing from a conveyance vehicle

The court will find a person guilty of this offence if they;

A Conveyance vehicle in this context includes;

  1. Stealing from a Docked ship or in a wharf

The court will impose punishments of 7 years for such offences and related offences where;


  1. Stealing records of any public or court office

Under the Act, it is a stealing offence to unlawfully and intentionally or recklessly

A part of the whole document in a court office, or relating to the business of any office, or matters of Her Majesty.

The law prescribes punishments of 7 years imprisonment.

  1. Stealing of Animals

A person is guilty of stealing offences concerning animals if they;

The Act prescribes punishments of 14 years imprisonment for all those found guilty of this offence.

A person can be convicted of the summary offence of stealing a dog under the Crimes Act (NSW) if they;

The law prescribes a one-year imprisonment term for such offences.

Cattle are any of the animals used/rear in large farms or ranches. The offence of stealing cattle includes;

For any of these or related offences, the court will impose a three years imprisonment term.

Defences for stealing from a Person

Stealing offences are handled as indictable offences in New South Wales. And it may not be eligible for an intervention or a Good Behaviour program.

If you get a conviction for such offences, it will be recorded in your Criminal History Check.

Therefore, the best way to avoid a conviction if you are charged with the offence is to get an experienced lawyer (in Criminal Law)

A lawyer can explore any of the following defences for a stealing offence;

Especially in the case of firearm theft or vehicle stealing offences

In the case of stress, psychological pressure, drunkenness, and so on

In the case of a critical pregnant woman, an emergency prevents a future catastrophe.

Do stealing offences appear on a criminal history check in New South Wales?

Stealing offences that are committed within the state of NSW will show up on a national criminal history check if there was a conviction that was recorded in a court (NSW or other Australian Jurisdiction).

You can obtain a national police background check online via the Australian National Character Check (ANCC®) website.


Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) -

Firearms Act 1996 (NSW) -

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