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Theft is generally the act of taking from another anything of value with the intent to deprive that person of its value permanently. Classification of the crime as theft, robbery, or burglary depends on the location of the crime, whether violence, threat of violence, or fraud was used to obtain the property, and the value of the property stolen, among other factors. Property can be almost anything of value, including all of the following:

  • Real estate.

  • Money.

  • Commercial instruments.

  • Admission or transportation tickets.

  • Written instruments that represent property rights in anything of value.

  • Property growing on, located on, or affixed to land or a building.

  • Electricity, gas, or water.

  • Animals, birds, or fish that are kept in confinement.

  • A sample, culture, microorganism, or specimen.

  • A record, recording, document, blueprint, drawing, map, or any type of copy or prototype of these instruments.

  • Financial instruments.

  • Trade secrets.

  • Electronic information.

  • Computer software or computer programs.

Theft of any of the above property may result in fines, prison time, or both, depending on the type and value of the property stolen. The following table outlines the potential fines and punishments for theft of property:

Value of Property Stolen

Prior Convictions

Type of Charge

Maximum Fine

Maximum Jail Sentence

$500 or more




15 years

$100 – $499




18 months

Less than $100




90 days

Less than $500

2 or more



5 years

Motor vehicle of any value




5 years


In addition to fines and jail time, a conviction for theft may bring other lasting negative consequences. Prospective employers may take your criminal record into consideration when you apply for a job in the future. A simple background check will reveal your theft conviction and may alter a prospective employer’s hiring decisions.