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Crimes Against Property - Larceny-theft

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The UCR Program defines larceny-theft as the "unlawful taking, carrying, leading, or riding away of property from the possession . . . of another. It includes crimes such as shoplifting, picking pockets, purse snatching, thefts from motor vehicles, thefts of motor vehicle parts and accessories, bicycle thefts, etc., in which no use of force, violence, or fraud occurs." Fraud is to misrepresent or lie about facts in order to persuade a victim to give money or other property to the offender. Larceny-theft also includes intentionally writing bad checks and credit card theft.

Most U.S. states divide larceny-theft into two categories of seriousness: petit and grand larceny. Petit, or petty larceny, refers to small amounts of money or goods, usually $100 or less, and is punishable as a misdemeanor (minor crime) with fines or brief jail time. Grand larceny usually involves amounts of money or value over $100 and is punishable as a felony with longer jail or prison sentences. The most frequent larceny-theft crime, which accounts for about 26 percent of larcenies, involves stealing items out of motor vehicles.

A related kind of larceny-theft, making up about 11 percent of the larcenies, is stealing motor vehicle accessories such as air bags or sound systems. Air bags, which cost consumers upwards of $1,000 in 2003 to replace, are sold by thieves for $50 to $200. Another major larceny-theft category, accounting for 12.5 percent of larcenies, is the theft of items from company buildings such as office equipment, communication equipment, cameras, and tools. Picking pockets and purse snatching, while highly frustrating to victims, makes up only about 1 percent of larceny-theft crimes.


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