Stealing Offences in NSW

Stealing Offences in NSW: Legal Provisions, Types, Penalties, and Noteworthy Prosecutions

The state of New South Wales (NSW) takes theft and stealing offences very seriously, implementing strict laws and penalties to deter potential offenders. Delving into the legislation, understanding the specific types of stealing offences, and recognizing the repercussions are essential for both potential litigants and the general public.

The Law on Stealing in NSW

The primary legislation concerning theft in NSW is the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW). Section 117 defines larceny (commonly known as theft or stealing) as the act of unlawfully taking and carrying away someone else’s personal property with the intent to deprive the owner of it permanently.

Types of Stealing Offences


Traditional theft, including shoplifting or taking someone else’s belongings without consent.

Stealing from the person

Directly taking property from someone, like pickpocketing.

Stealing by clerks and servants

Employees take property belonging to their employer.

Stealing motor vehicles or vessels

Theft of cars, boats, or similar transportation devices.

Receiving stolen property

Knowingly buying or accepting property that has been stolen.

Penalties for Stealing Offences in NSW

Penalties vary based on the type of offence and its severity:

  • Larceny: If the value of the property stolen does not exceed $5,000, the offender can face up to 2 years imprisonment if the matter is dealt with in the Local Court. If the matter goes to a higher court, the maximum penalty increases to 5 years. If the property’s value exceeds $5,000, other penalties may apply.
  • Stealing from the person: This offence carries a maximum penalty of 14 years imprisonment.
  • Stealing by clerks and servants: The maximum penalty is seven years, but it can rise to 10 years for property values over $15,000.
  • Stealing motor vehicles or vessels: A maximum of 10 years imprisonment.
  • Receiving stolen property: If the offender knows the property is stolen, they can face penalties similar to larceny. However, if the property’s value exceeds $15,000, the maximum penalty is ten years imprisonment.

Examples of Prosecutions

  • 2017, Sydney: A former bank employee was prosecuted for stealing over $100,000 for 18 months. Using their position within the bank, they diverted funds into personal accounts.
  • 2019, Western NSW: Two individuals were convicted of stealing motor vehicles in a series of thefts. The cars were then used in further crimes, leading to an extended prosecution and severe penalties for both individuals.
  • 2020, Newcastle: A shop owner was prosecuted for knowingly purchasing stolen goods and reselling them in his store. The investigation revealed a vast network of thieves supplying the shop, leading to multiple arrests.


Stealing offences in NSW cover a broad spectrum, from minor shoplifting incidents to grand thefts involving large sums of money or valuable property. With strict legislation and heavy penalties in place, the state aims to protect its citizens and their property. Awareness of these laws and consequences serves as a deterrent, maintaining the integrity and safety of the community. Anyone facing allegations or charges of stealing in NSW should seek legal advice immediately to understand their rights and potential consequences.