Theft Act 1981


Published: 2012-11-01

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Theft Act 1981

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AT 21 of 1981

THEFT ACT 1981

Theft Act 1981 Index


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c i e
THEFT ACT 1981

Index Section Page

Definition of “theft” 5

1 Basic definition of theft .................................................................................................. 5
2 “Dishonestly” .................................................................................................................. 5
3 ‘Appropriates’ ................................................................................................................. 6
4 ‘Property’ ......................................................................................................................... 6
5 ‘Belonging to another’ .................................................................................................... 7
6 ‘With the intention of permanently depriving the other of it’ ................................. 8
Theft, robbery, burglary, etc 8

7 Theft .................................................................................................................................. 8
8 Robbery ............................................................................................................................ 8
9 Burglary ............................................................................................................................ 8
9A Trespass to install surveillance devices ....................................................................... 9
10 Aggravated burglary .................................................................................................... 10
11 Removal of articles from places open to the public ................................................. 10
12 Taking motor vehicle or other conveyance without authority............................... 11
13 Abstracting of electricity .............................................................................................. 12
Fraud and blackmail 12

14 Obtaining property by deception ............................................................................... 12
15 Obtaining pecuniary advantage by deception ......................................................... 13
15A Money transfers, etc ..................................................................................................... 13
15B Section 15A: supplementary ........................................................................................ 14
16 Obtaining services by deception ................................................................................. 14
17 Obtaining relief from debt by deception ................................................................... 15
18 Dishonestly obtaining certain goods and services ................................................... 15
19 False accounting ............................................................................................................ 15
20 Liability of company officers for certain offences by company ............................. 16
21 False statements by company directors, etc .............................................................. 16
22 Suppression, etc, of documents .................................................................................. 17
23 Blackmail ........................................................................................................................ 17
Offences relating to goods stolen, etc 18

24 Handling stolen goods ................................................................................................. 18
Index Theft Act 1981


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24A Dishonestly retaining a wrongful credit ................................................................... 18
25 Advertising rewards for return of goods stolen or lost .......................................... 19
26 Scope of offences relating to stolen goods ................................................................ 19
Possession of housebreaking implements, etc 20

27 Going equipped for stealing, etc ................................................................................ 20
Enforcement and procedure 20

28 Search for stolen goods ................................................................................................ 20
29 Evidence and procedure on charge of theft or handling stolen goods ................. 21
30 Orders for restitution ................................................................................................... 22
General and consequential provisions 24

31 Spouses and civil partners .......................................................................................... 24
32 Effect on civil proceedings and rights ....................................................................... 24
33 Effect on existing law and construction of references to offences ......................... 25
34 Miscellaneous and consequential amendments, and repeals ................................ 25
Supplementary 26

35 Interpretation ................................................................................................................ 26
36 Commencement and transitional provisions ........................................................... 26
37 Short title and construction ......................................................................................... 26
SCHEDULE 1 27

AMENDMENT OF CERTAIN ENACTMENTS 27
SCHEDULE 2 27

ENDNOTES 29

TABLE OF LEGISLATION HISTORY 29
TABLE OF RENUMBERED PROVISIONS 29
TABLE OF ENDNOTE REFERENCES 29

Theft Act 1981 Section 1


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c i e
THEFT ACT 1981

Received Royal Assent: 28 October 1981
Passed: 15 December 1981
Commenced: 1 April 1982
AN ACT
to revise the law as to theft and similar or associated offences, and in
connection therewith to make provision as to criminal proceedings by one party
to a marriage against the other; and for other purposes connected therewith.
GENERAL NOTE:
The maximum fines in this Act are as increased by the Fines Act
1986 and by the Criminal Justice (Penalties, Etc.) Act 1993 s 1.
Definition of “theft”
1 Basic definition of theft

[P1968/60/1]
(1) A person is guilty of theft if he dishonestly appropriates property
belonging to another with the intention of permanently depriving the
other of it; and ‘thief’ and ‘steal’ shall be construed accordingly.
(2) It is immaterial whether the appropriation is made with a view to gain,
or is made for the thief’s own benefit.
(3) The five following sections shall have effect as regards the interpretation
and operation of this section (and, except as otherwise provided by this
Act, shall apply only for purposes of this section).
2 “Dishonestly”

[P1968/60/2]
(1) A person’s appropriation of property belonging to another is not to be
regarded as dishonest —
(a) if he appropriates the property in the belief that he has in law the
right to deprive the other of it, on behalf of himself or of a third
person; or
Section 3 Theft Act 1981


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(b) if he appropriates the property in the belief that he would have
the other’s consent if the other knew of the appropriation and the
circumstances of it; or
(c) (except where the property came to him as trustee or personal
representative) if he appropriates the property in the belief that
the person to whom the property belongs cannot be discovered by
taking reasonable steps.
(2) A person’s appropriation of property belonging to another may be
dishonest notwithstanding that he is willing to pay for the property.
3 ‘Appropriates’

[P1968/60/3]
(1) Any assumption by a person of the rights of an owner amounts to an
appropriation, and this includes, where he has come by the property
(innocently or not) without stealing it, any later assumption of a right to
it by keeping or dealing with it as owner.
(2) Where property or a right or interest in property is or purports to be
transferred for value to a person acting in good faith, no later assumption
by him of rights which he believed himself to be acquiring shall, by
reason of any defect in the transferor’s title, amount to theft of the
property.
4 ‘Property’

[P1968/60/4]
(1) ‘Property’ includes money and all other property, real or personal,
including things in action and other intangible property.
(2) A person cannot steal land, or things forming part of land and severed
from it by him or by his directions, except in the following cases, that is
to say —
(a) when he is a trustee or personal representative, or is authorised
by power of attorney, or as liquidator of a company, or otherwise,
to sell or dispose of land belonging to another, and he
appropriates the land or anything forming part of it by dealing
with it in breach of the confidence reposed in him; or
(b) when he is not in possession of the land and appropriates
anything forming part of the land by severing it or causing it to be
severed, or after it has been severed; or
(c) when, being in possession of the land under a tenancy, he
appropriates the whole or part of any fixture or structure let to be
used with the land.
For purposes of this subsection, ‘land’ does not include incorporeal
hereditaments; ‘tenancy’ means a tenancy for years or any less period
Theft Act 1981 Section 5


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and includes an agreement for such a tenancy, but a person who, after
the end of a tenancy, remains in possession as statutory tenant or
otherwise is to be treated as having possession under the tenancy, and
‘let’ shall be construed accordingly.
(3) A person who picks mushrooms growing wild on any land, or who picks
flowers, fruit or foliage from a plant growing wild on any land, does not
(although not in possession of the land) steal what he picks, unless he
does it for reward or for sale or other commercial purpose.
For purposes of this subsection ‘mushroom’ includes any fungus, and
‘plant’ includes any shrub or tree.
(4) Wild creatures, tamed or untamed, shall be regarded as property; but a
person cannot steal a wild creature not tamed nor ordinarily kept in
captivity, or the carcase of any such creature, unless either it has been
reduced into possession by or on behalf of another person and
possession of it has not since been lost or abandoned, or another person
is in course of reducing it into possession.
5 ‘Belonging to another’

[P1968/60/5]
(1) Property shall be regarded as belonging to any person having possession
or control of it, or having in it any proprietary right or interest (not being
an equitable interest arising only from an agreement to transfer or grant
an interest).

(2) Where property is subject to a trust, the persons to whom it belongs shall
be regarded as including any person having a right to enforce the trust,
and an intention to defeat the trust shall be regarded accordingly as an
intention to deprive of the property any person having that right.
(3) Where a person receives property from or on account of another, and is
under an obligation to the other to retain and deal with that property or
its proceeds in a particular way the property or proceeds shall be
regarded (as against him) as belonging to the other.
(4) Where a person gets property by another’s mistake, and is under an
obligation to make restoration (in whole or in part) of the property or its
proceeds or of the value thereof, then, to the extent of that obligation the
property or proceeds shall be regarded (as against him) as belonging to
the person entitled to restoration, and an intention not to make
restoration shall be regarded, accordingly, as an intention to deprive that
person of the property or proceeds.
(5) Property of a corporation sole shall be regarded as belonging to the
corporation notwithstanding a vacancy in the corporation.
Section 6 Theft Act 1981


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6 ‘With the intention of permanently depriving the other of it’

[P1968/60/6]
(1) A person appropriating property belonging to another without meaning
the other permanently to lose the thing itself is nevertheless to be
regarded as having the intention of permanently depriving the other of it
if his intention is to treat the thing as his own to dispose of regardless of
the other’s rights; and a borrowing or lending of it may amount to so
treating it if, but only if, the borrowing or lending is for a period and in
circumstances making it equivalent to an outright taking or disposal.
(2) Without prejudice to the generality of subsection (1), where a person,
having possession or control (lawful or not) of property belonging to
another, parts with the property under a condition as to its return which
he may not be able to perform, this (if done for purposes of his own and
without the other’s authority) amounts to treating the property as his
own to dispose of regardless of the other’s rights.
Theft, robbery, burglary, etc
7 Theft

[P1968/60/7]
A person guilty of theft shall, on conviction on information, be liable to
imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years.
8 Robbery

[P1968/60/8]
(1) A person is guilty of robbery if he steals, and immediately before or at
the time of doing so, and in order to do so, he uses force on any person or
puts or seeks to put any person in fear of being then and there subjected
to force.
(2) A person guilty of robbery, or of an assault with intent to rob, shall, on
conviction on information, be liable to imprisonment for life.
9 Burglary

[P1968/60/9]
(1) A person is guilty of burglary if —
(a) he enters any building or part of a building as a trespasser and
with intent to commit any such offence as is mentioned in
subsection (2); or
(b) having entered any building or part of a building as a trespasser,
he steals or attempts to steal anything in the building or that part
of it or inflicts or attempts to inflict on any person therein any
grievous bodily harm.
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(2) The offences referred to in subsection (1)(a) are offences of stealing
anything in the building or part of a building in question, of inflicting on
any person therein any grievous bodily harm or raping any woman
therein and of doing unlawful damage to the building or anything
therein, and offences under section 13.
(3) References in subsections (1) and (2) to a building shall apply also to an
inhabited vehicle or vessel, and shall apply to any such vehicle or vessel
at times when the person having a habitation in it is not there as well as
at times when he is.
(4) A person guilty of burglary shall, on conviction on information, be liable
to imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years.
9A Trespass to install surveillance devices

(1) A person is guilty of an offence under this section if —
(a) he enters any land or any building or part or a building as a
trespasser with intent to install a surveillance device or a
component part of a surveillance device; or
(b) having entered any land or any building or part of a building as a
trespasser, he installs a surveillance device or component part of a
surveillance device.
(2) In subsection (1), ‘building’ has the same meaning as in section 9(1)
and (2).
(3) In this section, a surveillance device is a device (whether operated
electronically, electrically, mechanically, chemically, magnetically or by
means of light or otherwise or by any combination of those methods)
which is intended for use for the covert recording, copying, interception,
transmission or receipt of —
(a) speech or other sounds;
(b) visual data;
(c) electronic data;
(d) signals serving for the importation (whether as between persons
and persons, things and things or persons and things) of any
matter otherwise than in the form of sounds or visual images;
(e) signals serving for the activation or control of any machinery or
apparatus of any description.
(4) In this section, ‘install’ means the integration of a surveillance device
into —
(a) any land or any building; or
(b) a fixture or any other object in the building,
and includes placing, leaving, concealing or affixing any surveillance
device on, in or to any land, building, fixture or object.
Section 10 Theft Act 1981


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(5) This section shall not apply in respect of the taking of such action as is
specified in a warrant issued in accordance with section 71 of the Anti-
Terrorism and Crime Act 2003.1

(6) This section shall not apply in respect of any entry or interference with
property which is specifically authorised by a warrant issued by the
Chief Minister and sections 2(2) and (3), 4, 5, 6 and 7 of the Interception of
Communications Act 1988 shall apply, with the necessary modifications, in
respect of a warrant under this subsection as they apply to a warrant
under section 2(1) of that Act.
(7) A person guilty of an offence under this section shall be liable —
(a) on conviction on information to imprisonment for a term not
exceeding 5 years or to a fine, or to both;
(b) on summary conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding
6 months or to a fine not exceeding £5,000, or to both.2

10 Aggravated burglary

[P1968/60/10]
(1) A person is guilty of aggravated burglary if he commits any burglary
and at the time has with him any firearm or imitation firearm, any
weapon of offence or any explosive; and for this purpose —
(a) “firearm
” includes an airgun or air pistol and “imitation firearm

means anything which has the appearance of being a firearm,
whether capable of being discharged or not;
(b) “weapon of offence
” means any article made or adapted for use
for causing injury to or incapacitating a person, or intended by the
person having it with him for such use; and
(c) “explosive
” means any article manufactured for the purpose of
producing a practical effect by explosion, or intended by the
person having it with him for that purpose.
(2) A person guilty of aggravated burglary shall, on conviction on
information, be liable to imprisonment for life.
11 Removal of articles from places open to the public

[P1968/60/11]
(1) Subject to subsections (2) and (3), where the public have access to a
building in order to view the building or part of it, or a collection or part
of a collection housed in it, any person who, without lawful authority,
removes from the building or its grounds the whole or part of any article
displayed or kept for display to the public in the building or that part of
it or in its grounds shall be guilty of an offence.
For this purpose, ‘collection’ includes a collection got together for a
temporary purpose, but references in this section to a collection do not
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apply to a collection made or exhibited for the purpose of effecting sales
or other commercial dealings.
(2) It is immaterial, for purposes of subsection (1), that the public’s access to
a building is limited to a particular period or particular occasion; but,
where anything removed from a building or its grounds is there
otherwise than as forming part of, or being on loan for exhibition with, a
collection intended for permanent exhibition to the public, the person
removing it does not thereby commit an offence under this section unless
he removes it on a day when the public have access to the building as
mentioned in subsection (1).
(3) A person does not commit an offence under this section if he believes
that he has lawful authority for the removal of the thing in question or
that he would have it if the person entitled to give it knew of the removal
and the circumstances of it.
(4) A person guilty of an offence under this section shall, on conviction on
information, be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five
years.
12 Taking motor vehicle or other conveyance without authority

[P1968/60/12]
(1) Subject to subsections (5) and (6), a person shall be guilty of an offence if,
without having the consent of the owner or other lawful authority, he
takes any conveyance for his own or another’s use or, knowing that any
conveyance has been taken without such authority, drives it or allows
himself to be carried in or on it.
(2) A person guilty of an offence under subsection (1) shall, on conviction on
information, be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three
years.
(3) [Repealed]3

(4) If, on the trial of an information for theft, the jury are not satisfied that
the accused committed theft, but it is proved that the accused committed
an offence under subsection (1), the jury may find him guilty of the
offence under subsection (1).
(5) Subsection (1) shall not apply in relation to pedal cycles; but, subject to
subsection (6), a person who, without having the consent of the owner or
other lawful authority, takes a pedal cycle for his own or another’s use,
or rides a pedal cycle knowing it to have been taken without such
authority, shall, on summary conviction, be liable to a fine not exceeding
£1,000.
(6) A person does not commit an offence under this section by anything
done in the belief that he has lawful authority to do it or that he would
Section 13 Theft Act 1981


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have the owner’s consent if the owner knew of his doing it and the
circumstances of it.
(7) For purposes of this section —
(a) ‘conveyance’ means any conveyance constructed or adapted,
whether or not as its primary purpose, for the carriage of a person
or persons, whether by land, water or air, except that it does not
include a conveyance constructed or adapted for use only under
the control of a person not carried in or on it, and ‘drive’ shall be
construed accordingly; and
(b) ‘owner’, in relation to a conveyance which is the subject of a
hiring agreement or hire-purchase agreement, means the person
in possession of the conveyance under that agreement.
13 Abstracting of electricity

[P1968/60/13]
A person who dishonestly uses without due authority, or dishonestly causes to
be wasted or diverted, any electricity shall, on conviction on information, be
liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years.
Fraud and blackmail
14 Obtaining property by deception

[P1968/60/15]
(1) A person who by any deception dishonestly obtains property belonging
to another, with the intention of permanently depriving the other of it,
shall, on conviction on information, be liable to imprisonment for a term
not exceeding ten years.
(2) For purposes of this section, a person is to be treated as obtaining
property if he obtains ownership, possession or control of it, and ‘obtain’
includes obtaining for another or enabling another to obtain or to retain.
(3) Section 6 shall apply for purposes of this section, with the necessary
adaptation of the reference to appropriating, as it applies for purposes of
section 1.
(4) For purposes of this section, ‘deception’ means any deception (whether
deliberate or reckless) by words or conduct as to fact or as to law,
including a deception as to the present intentions of the person using the
deception or any other person.
Theft Act 1981 Section 15


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15 Obtaining pecuniary advantage by deception

[P1968/60/16]
(1) A person who by any deception dishonestly obtains for himself or
another any pecuniary advantage shall, on conviction on information, be
liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years.
(2) The cases in which a pecuniary advantage, within the meaning of this
section, is to be regarded as obtained for a person are cases where —
(a) he is allowed to borrow by way of overdraft, or to take out any
policy of insurance or annuity contract, or obtains an
improvement of the terms on which he is allowed to do so; or
(b) he is given the opportunity to earn remuneration or greater
remuneration in an office or employment, or to win money by
betting.
(3) For purposes of this section, ‘deception’ has the same meaning as in
section 14.
15A Money transfers, etc

(1) A person is guilty of an offence if by any deception he dishonestly
obtains a money transfer for himself or another.
(2) A money transfer occurs when —
(a) a debit is made to one account,
(b) a credit is made to another, and
(c) the credit results from the debit or the debit results from the
credit.
(3) References to a credit and to a debit are to a credit of an amount of
money and to a debit of an amount of money.
(4) It is immaterial (in particular) —
(a) whether the amount credited is the same as the amount debited;
(b) whether the money transfer is effected on presentment of a
cheque or by another method;
(c) whether any delay occurs in the process by which the money
transfer is effected;
(d) whether any intermediate credits or debits are made in the course
of the money transfer;
(e) whether either of the accounts is overdrawn before or after the
money transfer is effected.
(5) A person guilty of an offence under this section shall be liable on
conviction on information to custody for a term not exceeding 10 years.4

Section 16 Theft Act 1981


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15B Section 15A: supplementary

(1) In section 15A of this Act —
‘deception’ has the same meaning as in section 15 of this Act;
‘account’ means an account kept with —
(a) a bank; or
(b) a person carrying on a business which falls within subsection (2).
(2) A business falls within this subsection if —
(a) in the course of the business money received by way of deposit is
lent to others; or
(b) any other activity of the business is financed, wholly or to any
material extent, out of the capital of or the interest on money
received by way of deposit,
and ‘deposit’ here has the same meaning as it has for the purposes of section 36
of the Financial Services Act 2008 (fraudulent inducement to make a
deposit).5

(3) For the purposes of subsection (2) —
(a) all the activities which a person carries on by way of business
shall be regarded as a single business carried on by him; and
(b) ‘money’ includes money expressed in a currency other than
sterling or in the European currency unit (as defined in Council
Regulation No 3320/94/EC or any EU instrument replacing it).6
7

16 Obtaining services by deception

[P1978/31/1]
(1) A person who, by any deception, dishonestly obtains services from
another shall, on conviction on information, be liable to imprisonment
for a term not exceeding 5 years.
(2) For purposes of this section, a person obtains services from another who
induces that other to confer a benefit by doing some act, or causing or
permitting some act to be done, on the understanding that the benefit has
been or will be paid for.
(3) For purposes of this section, ‘deception’ has the same meaning as in
section 14.
(4) Without prejudice to the generality of subsection (2), it is an obtaining of
services where the other is induced to make a loan, or to cause or permit
a loan to be made, on the understanding that any payment (whether by
way of interest or otherwise) will be or has been made in respect of
the loan.8

Theft Act 1981 Section 17


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17 Obtaining relief from debt by deception

(1) A person who —
(a) by any deception, dishonestly obtains for himself or another
remission of the whole or part of any liability to make a payment,
including a liability that would be incurred but for that
remission; or9

(b) having an existing liability to make a payment to any person
which he does not intend to pay, by any deception dishonestly
induces that person to wait for payment,
shall, on conviction on information, be liable to imprisonment for a term
not exceeding five years.
(2) For purposes of this section —
(a) ‘liability’ means a legally enforceable liability, but does not
include a liability that has not been accepted or established to pay
compensation for a wrongful act or omission;
(b) a person who is induced to take in payment a cheque or other
security for money is to be treated as being induced to wait for
payment;
(c) ‘deception’ has the same meaning as in section 14.10

18 Dishonestly obtaining certain goods and services

(1) Any person who, in any place, obtains any goods or services, having
reason to believe that it is a condition of his obtaining those goods or
services that he is required to pay for them before leaving that place,
dishonestly leaves that place without paying for those goods or services
and intending not to pay for the same shall, on summary conviction, be
liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or to a fine
not exceeding £5,000, or to both.11

(2) Subsection (1) shall not apply where the supply of the goods or services
is contrary to law, or where the services done are such that payment is
not legally enforceable.12

(3) Any person may arrest without warrant anyone who is, or whom he
with reasonable cause suspects to be, committing or attempting to
commit an offence under this section.13

19 False accounting

[P1968/60/17]
(1) Where a person dishonestly, with a view to gain for himself or another or
with intent to cause loss to another —
(a) destroys, defaces, conceals or falsifies any account or any record
or document made or required for any accounting purpose; or
Section 20 Theft Act 1981


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(b) in furnishing information for any purpose, produces or makes use
of any account, or any such record or document as aforesaid,
which to his knowledge is or may be misleading, false or
deceptive in a material particular,
he shall, on conviction on information, be liable to imprisonment for a
term not exceeding seven years.
(2) For purposes of this section, a person who makes or concurs in making
in an account or other document an entry which is or may be misleading,
false or deceptive in a material particular, or who omits or concurs in
omitting a material particular from an account or other document, is to
be treated as falsifying the account or document.
20 Liability of company officers for certain offences by company

[P1968/60/18]
(1) Where an offence committed by a body corporate under section 14, 15,
16, 17, 18 or 19 is proved to have been committed with the consent or
connivance of any director, manager, secretary or other similar officer of
the body corporate, or any person who was purporting to act in any such
capacity, he, as well as the body corporate, shall be guilty of that offence,
and shall be liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly.
(2) Where the affairs of a body corporate are managed by its members, this
section shall apply in relation to the acts and defaults of a member in
connection with his functions of management as if he were a director of
the body corporate.
21 False statements by company directors, etc

[P1968/60/19]
(1) Where an officer of a body corporate or unincorporated association (or
person purporting to act as such), with intent to deceive members or
creditors of the body corporate or association about its affairs, publishes
or concurs in publishing a written statement or account which to his
knowledge is or may be misleading, false or deceptive in a material
particular, he shall, on conviction on information, be liable to
imprisonment for a term not exceeding seven years.
(2) For purposes of this section, a person who has entered into a security for
the benefit of a body corporate or association is to be treated as a creditor
of it.
(3) Where the affairs of a body corporate or association are managed by its
members, this section shall apply to any statement which a member
publishes or concurs in publishing in connection with his functions of
management as if he were an officer of the body corporate or association.
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22 Suppression, etc, of documents

[P1968/60/20]
(1) A person who dishonestly, with a view to gain for himself or another or
with intent to cause loss to another, destroys, defaces or conceals any
valuable security, any will or other testamentary document or any
original document of or belonging to, or filed or deposited in, any court
of justice or any government department shall, on conviction on
information, be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding seven
years.
(2) A person who dishonestly, with a view to gain for himself or another or
with intent to cause loss to another, by any deception procures the
execution of a valuable security shall, on conviction on information, be
liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding seven years; and this
subsection shall apply in relation to the making, acceptance,
indorsement, alteration, cancellation or destruction in whole or in part of
a valuable security, and in relation to the signing or sealing of any paper
or other material in order that it may be made or converted into, or used
or dealt with as, a valuable security, as if that were the execution of a
valuable security.
(3) For purposes of this section, ‘deception’ has the same meaning as in
section 14, and ‘valuable security’ means any document creating,
transferring, surrendering or releasing any right to, in or over property,
or authorising the payment of money or delivery of any property, or
evidencing the creation, transfer, surrender or release of any such right,
or the payment of money or delivery of any property, or the satisfaction
of any obligation.
23 Blackmail

[P1968/60/21]
(1) A person is guilty 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; and, for this purpose, a demand
with menaces is unwarranted unless the person making it does so in the
belief —
(a) that he had reasonable grounds for making the demand; and
(b) that the use of the menaces is a proper means of reinforcing the
demand.
(2) The nature of the act or omission demanded is immaterial, and it is also
immaterial whether the menaces relate to action to be taken by the
person making the demand.
(3) A person guilty of blackmail shall, on conviction on information, be
liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years.
Section 24 Theft Act 1981


Page 18 AT 21 of 1981 c

Offences relating to goods stolen, etc
24 Handling stolen goods

[P1968/60/22]
(1) A person handles stolen goods if (otherwise than in the course of the
stealing), knowing or believing them to be stolen goods, he dishonestly
receives the goods, or dishonestly undertakes or assists in their retention,
removal, disposal or realisation by or for the benefit of another person, or
if he arranges to do so.
(2) A person guilty of handling stolen goods shall, on conviction on
information, be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen
years.
24A Dishonestly retaining a wrongful credit

(1) A person is guilty of an offence if —
(a) a wrongful credit has been made to an account kept by him or in
respect of which he has any right or interest;
(b) he knows or believes that the credit is wrongful; and
(c) he dishonestly fails to take such steps as are reasonable in the
circumstances to secure that the credit is cancelled.
(2) References to a credit are to a credit of an amount of money.
(3) A credit to an account is wrongful if it is the credit side of a money
transfer obtained contrary to section 15A.
(4) A credit to an account is also wrongful to the extent that it derives
from —
(a) theft;
(b) an offence under section 15A;
(c) blackmail; or
(d) stolen goods.
(5) In determining whether a credit to an account is wrongful, it is
immaterial (in particular) whether the account is overdrawn before or
after the credit is made.
(6) A person guilty of an offence under this section shall be liable on
conviction on information to custody for a term not exceeding 10 years.
(7) Subsection (8) applies for purposes of provisions of this Act relating to
stolen goods (including subsection (4)).
(8) References to stolen goods include money which is dishonestly
withdrawn from an account to which a wrongful credit has been made,
but only to the extent that the money derives from the credit.
Theft Act 1981 Section 25


c AT 21 of 1981 Page 19

(9) In this section ‘account’ and ‘money’ shall be construed in accordance
with section 15B.14

25 Advertising rewards for return of goods stolen or lost

[P1968/60/23]
Where any public advertisement of a reward for the return of any goods which
have been stolen or lost uses any words to the effect that no questions will be
asked, or that the person producing the goods will be safe from apprehension or
inquiry, or that any money paid for the purchase of the goods or advanced by
way of loan on them will be repaid, the person advertising the reward and any
person who prints or publishes the advertisement shall, on summary
conviction, be liable to a fine not exceeding £1,000.
26 Scope of offences relating to stolen goods

[P1968/60/24]
(1) The provisions of this Act relating to goods which have been stolen shall
apply whether the stealing occurred in the Island or elsewhere, and
whether it occurred before or after the commencement of this Act, so
long as the stealing (if not an offence under this Act) amounted to an
offence where and at the time when the goods were stolen; and
references to stolen goods shall be construed accordingly.
(2) For purposes of those provisions, references to stolen goods shall
include, in addition to the goods originally stolen and parts of them
(whether in their original state or not) —
(a) any other goods which directly or indirectly represent, or have at
any time represented, the stolen goods in the hands of the thief as
being the proceeds of any disposal or realisation of the whole or
part of the goods stolen or of goods so representing the stolen
goods; and
(b) any other goods which directly or indirectly represent or have at
any time represented the stolen goods in the hands of a handler of
the stolen goods or any part of them as being the proceeds of any
disposal or realisation of the whole or part of the stolen goods
handled by him or of goods so representing them.
(3) But no goods shall be regarded as having continued to be stolen goods
after they have been restored to the person from whom they were stolen
or to other lawful possession or custody, or after that person and any
other person claiming through him have otherwise ceased as regards
those goods to have any right to restitution in respect of the theft.
(4) For purposes of the provisions of this Act relating to goods which have
been stolen (including subsections (1) to (3)), goods obtained in the
Island or elsewhere either by blackmail or in the circumstances described
Section 27 Theft Act 1981


Page 20 AT 21 of 1981 c

in section 14(1) shall be regarded as stolen; and ‘steal’, ‘theft’ and ‘thief’
shall be construed accordingly.
Possession of housebreaking implements, etc
27 Going equipped for stealing, etc

[P1968/60/25]
(1) A person shall be guilty of an offence if, when not at his place of abode,
he has with him any article for use in the course of, or in connection with,
any burglary, theft or cheat.
(2) A person guilty of an offence under this section shall, on conviction on
information, be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three
years.
(3) Where a person is charged with an offence under this section, proof that
he had with him any article made or adapted for use in committing a
burglary, theft or cheat shall be evidence that he had it with him for such
use.
(4) Any person may arrest without warrant anyone who is, or whom he,
with reasonable cause suspects to be, committing an offence under this
section.
(5) For purposes of this section, an offence under section 12(1) of taking a
conveyance shall be treated as theft, and ‘cheat’ means an offence under
section 14.
Enforcement and procedure
28 Search for stolen goods

[P1968/60/26]
(1) If it is made to appear by information on oath before a justice of the
peace that there is reasonable cause to believe that any person has in his
custody or possession or on his premises any stolen goods, the justice
may grant a warrant to search for and seize the same; but no warrant to
search for stolen goods shall be addressed to a person other than a
constable except under the authority of an enactment expressly so
providing.
(2) An officer of the Isle of Man Constabulary, not below the rank of
inspector, may give any other officer or member of the Constabulary
written authority to search any premises for stolen goods —
(a) if the person in occupation of the premises has been convicted
within the preceding five years of handling stolen goods or of any
offence involving dishonesty and punishable with imprisonment;
or
Theft Act 1981 Section 29


c AT 21 of 1981 Page 21

(b) if a person who has been convicted, within the preceding five
years, of handling stolen goods has, within the preceding twelve
months, been in occupation of the premises.
(2A) Sections 18(5) to (8) and 19 (search warrants: safeguards and execution)
of the Police Powers and Procedures Act 1998 shall apply in respect of a
written authority under subsection (2) of this section as they apply in
respect of a warrant to enter and search premises under any enactment.15

(3) Where, under this section, a person is authorised to search premises for
stolen goods, he may enter and search the premises accordingly, and
may seize any goods he believes to be stolen goods.
(4) [Repealed]16

(5) This section is to be construed in accordance with section 26; and, in
subsection (2), the references to handling stolen goods shall include any
corresponding offence committed before the commencement of this Act.
29 Evidence and procedure on charge of theft or handling stolen goods

[P1968/60/27(1); NI/1969/16/26(2); NI/1969/16/26(3); P1968/60/27(3); P1968/60/27(4); P1968/60/27(5)]
(1) Any number of persons may be charged in one information, with
reference to the same theft, with having at different times or at the same
time handled all or any of the stolen goods, and the persons so charged
may be tried together.
(2) If, on the trial of an information or the hearing of a complaint for the
theft of any property, the property is alleged by the information or
complaint to have been stolen at one time but it appears that the
property was appropriated at different times, such separate
appropriations may be tried or heard together, to a number not
exceeding three, if a period of not more than six months elapsed between
the first and the last of such appropriations.
(3) Where, on the joint trial of two or more persons for handling stolen
goods, a court of summary jurisdiction or, on a trial on information, the
jury is satisfied that any of the accused handled all or any of the stolen
goods (whether or not he did so jointly with the other accused or any of
them), the court or, as the case may be, the jury may find him guilty.
(4) Where a person is being proceeded against for handling stolen goods
(but not for any offence other than handling stolen goods), then, at any
stage of the proceedings, if evidence has been given of his having or
arranging to have in his possession the goods the subject of the charge, or
of his undertaking or assisting in, or arranging to undertake or assist in,
their retention, removal, disposal or realisation, the following evidence
shall be admissible for the purpose of proving that he knew or believed
the goods to be stolen goods —
Section 30 Theft Act 1981


Page 22 AT 21 of 1981 c

(a) evidence that he has had in his possession, or has undertaken or
assisted in the retention, removal, disposal or realisation of, stolen
goods from any theft taking place not earlier than twelve months
before the offence charged; and
(b) (so long as seven days’ notice in writing has been given to him of
the intention to prove the conviction) evidence that he has within
the five years preceding the date of the offence charged been
convicted of theft or of handling stolen goods.
(5) In any proceedings for the theft of anything in the course of transmission
(whether by post or otherwise), or for handling stolen goods from such a
theft, a statutory declaration made by any person that he despatched or
received, or failed to receive, any goods or postal packet, or that any
goods or postal packet when despatched or received by him were in a
particular state or condition, shall be admissible as evidence of the facts
stated in the declaration, subject to the following conditions —
(a) a statutory declaration shall only be admissible where, and to the
extent to which, oral evidence to the like effect would have been
admissible in the proceedings; and
(b) a statutory declaration shall only be admissible if, at least seven
days before the hearing or trial, a copy of it has been given to the
person charged, and he has not, at least three days before the
hearing or trial or within such further time as the court may in
special circumstances allow, given the prosecutor written notice
requiring the attendance at the hearing or trial of the person
making the declaration.
(6) This section is to be construed in accordance with section 26; and, in
subsection (4)(b), the reference to handling stolen goods shall include
any corresponding offence committed before the commencement of this
Act.
30 Orders for restitution

[P1968/60/28]
(1) Where goods have been stolen, and either a person is convicted of any
offence with reference to the theft (whether or not the stealing is the gist
of his offence) or a person is convicted of any other offence but such an
offence is taken into consideration in determining his sentence, the court
by or before which the offender is convicted may on the conviction
(whether or not the passing of the sentence is in other respects deferred)
exercise any of the following powers —
(a) the court may order anyone having possession or control of the
goods to restore them to any person entitled to recover them from
him; or
Theft Act 1981 Section 30


c AT 21 of 1981 Page 23

(b) on the application of a person entitled to recover from the person
convicted any other goods directly or indirectly representing the
first-mentioned goods (as being the proceeds of any disposal or
realisation of the whole or part of them or of goods so
representing them), the court may order those other goods to be
delivered or transferred to the applicant; or
(c) the court may order that a sum not exceeding the value of the
first-mentioned goods shall be paid, out of any money of the
person convicted which was taken out of his possession on his
apprehension, to any person who, if those goods were in the
possession of the person convicted, would be entitled to recover
them from him.17

(2) Where under subsection (1) the court has power on a person’s conviction
to make an order against him under both paragraph (b) and
paragraph (c) with reference to the stealing of the same goods, the court
may make orders under both paragraphs provided that the person in
whose favour the orders are made does not thereby recover more than
the value of those goods.18

(3) Where under subsection (1) the court on a person’s conviction makes an
order under paragraph (a) for the restoration of any goods, and it
appears to the court that the person convicted has sold the goods to a
person acting in good faith, or has borrowed money on the security of
them from a person so acting, the court may order that there shall be
paid to the purchaser or lender, out of any money of the person
convicted which was taken out of his possession on his apprehension, a
sum not exceeding the amount paid for the purchase by the purchaser or,
as the case may be, the amount owed to the lender in respect of the
loan.19

(4) The court shall not exercise the powers conferred by this section unless,
in the opinion of the court, the relevant facts sufficiently appear from
evidence given at the trial or the available documents, together with
admissions made by or on behalf of any person in connection with any
proposed exercise of the powers; and, for this purpose, ‘the available
documents’ means any written statements or admissions which were
made for use, and would have been admissible, as evidence at the trial,
the depositions taken at any committal proceedings and any written
statements or admissions used as evidence in those proceedings.
(5) [Repealed]20

(6) References in this section to stealing are to be construed in accordance
with section 26(1) and (4).
Section 31 Theft Act 1981


Page 24 AT 21 of 1981 c

General and consequential provisions
31 Spouses and civil partners

[P1968/60/30]
(1) This Act shall apply in relation to the parties to a marriage, and to
property belonging to the wife or husband whether or not by reason of
an interest derived from the marriage, as it would apply if they were not
married and any such interest subsisted independently of the marriage.
(2) Subject to subsections (4) and (5), a person shall have the same right to
bring proceedings against that person’s wife or husband for any offence
(whether under this Act or otherwise) as if they were not married, and a
person bringing any such proceedings shall be competent to give
evidence for the prosecution at every stage of the proceedings.
(3) [Repealed]21

(4) Subject to subsection (5), proceedings shall not be instituted against a
person for any offence of stealing or doing unlawful damage to property
which, at the time of the offence, belongs to that person’s wife or
husband or civil partner, or for any attempt, incitement or conspiracy to
commit such an offence, unless the proceedings are instituted by or with
the consent of the Attorney General.22

(5) Subsection (4) shall not —
(a) apply to proceedings against a person for an offence —
(i) if that person is charged with committing the offence
jointly with the wife or husband or civil partner;23

(ii) if, by virtue of any judicial decree or order (wherever
made), that person and the wife or husband are, at the time
of the offence, under no obligation to cohabit; or
(iii) an order (wherever made) is in force providing for the
separation of that person and his or her civil partner; and24

(b) prevent the arrest, or the issue of a warrant for the arrest, of a
person for an offence, or the remand in custody or on bail of a
person charged with an offence, where the arrest (if without a
warrant) is made, or the warrant of arrest issues on a complaint
made, by a person other than the wife or husband or civil
partner.25

32 Effect on civil proceedings and rights

[P1968/60/31]
(1) A person shall not be excused, by reason that to do so may incriminate
that person or the spouse or civil partner of that person of an offence
under this Act —
Theft Act 1981 Section 33


c AT 21 of 1981 Page 25

(a) from answering any question put to that person in proceedings
for the recovery or administration of any property, for the
execution of any trust or for an account of any property or
dealings with property; or
(b) from complying with any order made in any such proceedings,
but no statement or admission made by a person in answering a question
put, or complying with an order made, as aforesaid shall, in proceedings
for an offence under this Act, be admissible in evidence against that
person or (unless they married or became civil partners after the making
of the statement or admission) against the spouse or civil partner of that
person.26

(2) Notwithstanding any enactment to the contrary, where property has
been stolen or obtained by fraud or other wrongful means, the title to
that or any other property shall not be affected by reason only of the
conviction of the offender.
33 Effect on existing law and construction of references to offences

[P1968/60/32]
(1) The following offences are hereby abolished for all purposes not relating
to offences committed before the commencement of this Act, that is to
say, any offence under an enactment mentioned in Part I of Schedule 2,
to the extent to which the offence depends on any section or part of a
section included in the third column of that Schedule.
(2) Except as regards offences committed before the commencement of this
Act, and except in so far as the context otherwise requires —
(a) references in any enactment passed before this Act to an offence
abolished by this Act shall, subject to any express amendment or
repeal made by this Act, have effect as references to the
corresponding offence under this Act; and, in any such enactment,
“receive
” (when it relates to an offence of receiving) shall mean
handle, and “receiver
” shall be construed accordingly; and
(b) without prejudice to paragraph (a), references in any enactment,
whenever passed, to theft or stealing (including references to
stolen goods), and references to robbery, blackmail, burglary,
aggravated burglary or handling stolen goods, shall be construed
in accordance with the provisions of this Act, including those of
section 26.
34 Miscellaneous and consequential amendments, and repeals

[P1968/60/33(2) and (3)]
(1) The enactments mentioned in Schedule 1 shall have effect subject to the
amendments there provided for.
Section 35 Theft Act 1981


Page 26 AT 21 of 1981 c

(2) [Repealed]27

Supplementary
35 Interpretation

[P1968/60/34]
(1) Sections 4(1) and 5(1) shall apply generally for purposes of this Act as
they apply for purposes of section 1.
(2) For purposes of this Act —
(a) “gain
” and “loss
” are to be construed as extending only to gain or
loss in money or other property, but as extending to any such gain
or loss whether temporary or permanent; and
(i) “gain
” includes a gain by keeping what one has, as well as
a gain by getting what one has not; and
(ii) “loss
” includes a loss by not getting what one might get, as
well as a loss by parting with what one has; and
(b) “goods
”, except in so far as the context otherwise requires,
includes money and every other description of property except
land, and includes things severed from the land by stealing.
36 Commencement and transitional provisions

[P1968/60/35]
(1) This Act shall come into operation on the same day as the Criminal Law
Act 1981 (in this section referred to as ‘the appointed day’).
(2) Sections 29 and 30 shall apply in relation to proceedings for an offence
committed before the appointed day as they would apply in relation to
proceedings for a corresponding offence under this Act, and shall so
apply in place of any corresponding enactment repealed by this Act.
(3) Subject to subsection (2), no repeal or amendment by this Act of any
enactment relating to procedure or evidence, or to the jurisdiction or
powers of any court, or to the effect of a conviction, shall affect the
operation of the enactment in relation to offences committed before the
appointed day or to proceedings for any such offence.
37 Short title and construction

(1) This Act may be cited as the Theft Act 1981.
(2) This Act may be construed as one with the Criminal Law Acts 1872 to
1975, the Sexual Offences Act 1967, the Criminal Damage Act 1981 and the
Criminal Law Act 1981, and those Acts and this Act may be cited together
as the Criminal Law Acts 1872 to 1981.
Theft Act 1981 Schedule 1



c AT 21 of 1981 Page 27

SCHEDULE 1

AMENDMENT OF CERTAIN ENACTMENTS

Section 34(1)
[Sch 1 amended by Road Traffic Act 1985 Sch 9, by Gaming, Betting and
Lotteries Act 1988 Sch 9 and by Post Office Act 1993 Sch 3, and amends the
following Act —
Charitable Collections (Regulation) Act 1939 q.v.]
SCHEDULE 2
28

Theft Act 1981 Endnotes


c AT 21 of 1981 Page 29

ENDNOTES

Table of Legislation History

Legislation Year and No Commencement






Table of Renumbered Provisions

Original Current






Table of Endnote References

1
Subs (5) substituted by Criminal Justice Act 1996 Sch 2 para 7(1) (see also para 7(2))
and amended by Anti-Terrorism and Crime Act 2003 Sch 14. 2
S 9A inserted by Criminal Justice Act 1991 Sch 4. 3
Subs (3) repealed by Police Powers and Procedures Act 1998 Sch 5. 4
S 15A inserted by Criminal Justice Act 2001 s 22 with saving. 5
Subs (2) amended by Financial Services Act 2008 Sch 6. 6
Para (b) amended by SD0606/12. 7
S 15B inserted by Criminal Justice Act 2001 s 22 with saving. 8
S 16 substituted by Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 1985 s 2. Subs (4) added by
Criminal Justice Act 2001 s 22 with saving. 9
Para (a) amended by Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 1985 s 2. 10
Subs (2) substituted by Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 1985 s 2. 11
Subs (1) amended by Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 1985 s 2. 12
Subs (2) added by Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 1985 s 2. 13
Subs (3) added by Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 1985 s 2. 14
S 24A inserted by Criminal Justice Act 2001 s 22 with saving. 15
Subs (2A) inserted by Police Powers and Procedures Act 1998 Sch 4. 16
Subs (4) repealed by Summary Jurisdiction Act 1989 Sch 6. 17
Subs (1) substituted by Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 1985 Sch 2. 18
Subs (2) substituted by Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 1985 Sch 2. 19
Subs (3) substituted by Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 1985 Sch 2. 20
Subs 5 repealed by Criminal Jurisdiction Act 1993 Sch 4. 21
Subs (3) repealed by Criminal Justice Act 1991 Sch 5.
Endnotes Theft Act 1981


Page 30 AT 21 of 1981 c

22
Subs (4) amended by Civil Partnership Act 2011 Sch 14. 23
Subpara (i) amended by Civil Partnership Act 2011 Schs 14 and 15. 24
Subpara (iii) added by Civil Partnership Act 2011 Sch 14. 25
Para (b) amended by Civil Partnership Act 2011 Sch 14. 26
Subs (1) amended by Civil Partnership Act 2011 Sch 14. 27
Subs (2) repealed by Statute Law Revision Act 1992 Sch 2. 28
Sch 2 repealed by Statute Law Revision Act 1992 Sch 2.

Related Laws

1965 Penal Code