Stealing from the Person in NSW

Stealing from the Person in NSW: Understanding the Crime, and its Consequences

In New South Wales (NSW), the crime of ‘stealing from the person’ is treated with the utmost gravity. This crime, more invasive and personal than common larceny, involves directly taking something from an individual, often without them even realising it until it’s too late. With such acts violating personal space and leaving lasting trauma, the state ensures that offenders face stringent penalties. Let’s dive deeper into what constitutes ‘stealing from the person’, the penalties, and real-world examples.

What is “Stealing from the Person”?

“Stealing from the person” is distinct from common theft. It refers to cases where an offender directly takes property from another individual. This could be without the use of force, such as pickpocketing, or with a threat or use of violence, like mugging. The key aspect is the direct interaction with the victim, which often results in psychological distress beyond the simple loss of property.

Penalties for Stealing from the Person

Under the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW), “stealing from the person” is a serious offence with a maximum penalty of 14 years imprisonment. The severity of the penalty will vary based on:

  • The value of the items stolen.
  • Whether violence or a threat of violence was used.
  • The offender’s prior criminal history.

It’s worth noting that if violence or the threat of violence is involved, other charges (like assault) could be applied concurrently, potentially increasing the total penalties faced by the offender.


a. 2018, Sydney CBD: A well-dressed man was captured on CCTV discreetly removing a wallet from the bag of an unsuspecting diner at a popular restaurant. Once caught, he was discovered to be part of a larger group targeting restaurant-goers across the city.

b. 2019, Bondi Beach: A young woman reported her phone stolen after a stranger bumped into her. CCTV footage later revealed a pair working in tandem – one distracting the victim while the other pilfered belongings. The duo was responsible for a string of similar thefts along the coast.

c. 2020, Parramatta: An elderly man was approached by a stranger asking for directions. While the man assisted, another individual came from behind and removed his wallet. Thanks to observant bystanders, both culprits were apprehended soon after.


“Stealing from the person” is not merely an act of theft; it’s a violation of one’s personal space and trust. NSW recognises the profound impact it can have on victims and penalises offenders accordingly. Whether you’re a resident or a visitor in NSW, staying vigilant in crowded places and being aware of your surroundings can go a long way in preventing such offences. If accused of such a crime, seeking immediate legal counsel is essential, given the severity of the potential penalties.