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Theft and petty theft

Theft and petty theft

Stealing another person’s property is a theft. Theft is punishable only when it is intentional. The perpetrator must know that the property belongs to someone else. Attempted theft is also punishable.

In addition, a person found guilty of theft can be obliged to compensate the value of stolen property to its owner, if the property is not recovered undamaged.

Petty thefts are a nuisance for entrepreneurs

Petty theft is a typical name of an offence in a minor case of shoplifting. The value of the stolen property or the act as a whole is minor.

Many entrepreneurs are exasperated by shoplifters and the extra work and losses they cause. Retailers understand the scale of the problem and are investing in the fight against shoplifting. Guards, camera surveillance and product-specific protection are present. In addition, other customers often intervene in any crimes they notice, either by reporting them to staff or directly apprehending the suspect. 

There are many types of shoplifter. Some steal goods purely in order to make money. Some thieves have substance abuse problems, or are professional criminals who have entered the country. Shoplifters include both old and young people. 

When the shoplifter is a minor

If the shoplifter is under 18, the police contact the parents and child protection. In general, retailers demand that the offenders be punished; the consequence is either a fine or a court proceeding. 

Individuals under the age of 15 cannot be held criminally liable. The police files a report about the offence, but it doesn’t move into pre-trial investigation because the perpetrator is under 18. They are still liable to pay damages if they have eaten, messed up or broken something, even when they are under 15 years of age.

Most parents are shocked to hear that their children have been shoplifting. It's worth discussing the issue in advance and using the correct terms. Shoplifting is a crime. 


For theft, the punishment can be fine or imprisonment:

  • for theft, a fine or up to one year and six months of imprisonment
  • for aggravated theft, a minimum of four months and a maximum of four years of imprisonment.

The punishment of petty theft is a fine. The amount of the fine depends on the value of the stolen items and whether it is a recurring offence. 

Two patrol officers approaching a shopping centre on foot, with the back of the constable in front being visible and the feet of the one behind being in the foreground.