Criminal Law- Theft & Robbery

Theft and Robbery are both offences that are covered in the Theft act 1968, and supported by case law also, particularly in regards to Dishonesty. 

Theft can be defined as the dishonest appropriation of property that belongs to another with the intention to permanently deprive- Section 1 TA.

The Actus Reus:

  • Appropriation- Section 3
  • Property- Section 4
  • Belonging to another- Section 5

The Mens Rea:

  • Dishonestly- Section 2
  • Intention to permanently deprive- Section 6


Actus Reus 


Appropriation is defined under section 3 of the Theft act. To appropriate something you must assume the rights of the owner. The term Appropriation is a fact neutral term, meaning that appropriation can be seen to be taking control of anything, therefore receiving a gift is appropriating it. Appropriation has no direct like to criminal liability on its own. The case Authority for this is R v Hinks.


Property is defined under section 4 of the theft act. It is stated here that all things including money, real property, personal property, things in action and other intangible property can all be stolen. However the case of Oxford v Moss is authority stating that confidential information can not be stolen.

Belonging to another

This is defined in section 5 of the Theft Act. By belonging to another, it means that they have a proprietary interest in the asset. There are many cases to demonstrate different principles of this:

R v Turner- attempted to steal their own car from the garage that was being repaired without paying for the service. The garage had a propriety interest in the car so it was still theft.

Edwards v Ddin- putting the petrol into the car, and then reading they have insufficient funds and driving off. Technically not theft because there is no coincidence of MR and AR, but section 60 was amended as a making off without payment section which fixed this problem.

R v Wain- Woman was given sponsorship money to give to a charity, and she paid it into her bank instead. She said at that time it belonged to her. The court said that itt never belonged to her.

Ricketts v Basildon- issue of abandonment. An item can be taken if it has been abandoned. For it to be abandoned, it must be truly abandoned, and therefore have no owner. Items left outsider a charity shop belong to the charity shop and are not abandoned.


Mens Rea 


Section 2 of the theft act does not give a definition of what dishonesty is. Section 2 points out specific situations where a situation is not dishonest. These are if they have a lawful reason why they have taken it, if they believe that the owner would have fully consented and if they were going to pay for the product.

The actual test for dishonesty is set out in the case os R v Ghosh and has 2 limbs to it:

  1. Is D dishonest in the eyes of the right thinking people? (Objective)
  2. Does D believe that his actions were Dishonest? (Subjective)

The case of Sinclair v Neighbour’s is authority for taking something with the intension to pay for it can also be dishonest in some circumstances.

Intention to permanently deprive

This is defined in section 6 of the Theft Act. For something to be taken with the intention to permanently deprive, they must treat it as their own with no intention of ever returning it. For example the resale of underground tickets was attempting to make money away from people with out returning it in the case of R v Marshall. In the case of R v Lloyd, it ca be seen that if all the ‘goodness and virtue’ has been taken out of the asset, then this can be seen as in ITPD.

In the Rather bizarre case of R v Mitchel, stealing a car to rob a bank with the intention of dropping the car so it would be returned to the owner afterwards, does not satisfy the ITPD.

In the case of Chan Man Sin, a man was using a company credit card fro his own personal use, and this was seen to be an intention to permanently deprive the business of money.

If all of these elements are satisfied, this will be a Prima Fashe case. 



There can not be a robbery without a theft having occurred. The Actus Reus and the Mens Rea are exactly the same for a robbery with the addition of 3 elements:

  1. Force was used or threatened
  2. Immediately before the theft or at the time of the theft
  3. With the intention of stealing

The case of R v Dawson and James- it shows that minimal force is enough, therefore there must be a simple assault or battery.

The case of R v Clouden shows that the force can be transferred through objects, for example someone snatching someones hand-bang off of their arm. Even though they never touched the person, they were effected by the force through the bag.




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