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Theft or not? - Phil Goodacre
Why do the police charge car theives with the offence of 'taking a vehicle without the owners consent'? Why are they not charged with theft as you would be if you walked into Halfords and helped yourself from the till?
Re: Theft or not? - Dave
VERY good point!

I nick 30 grand; I get a big prison sentence. I nick a 30 grand car; I get a caution...

What's going on?
Not - QC
Because theft is defined as "dishonest appropriation of property with the intention to *permanently* deprive".

A car thief who raised 30 grand on the sale of a stolen car would get a sentence greater than a thief who pinched 30 grand from someone's wallet while they weren't looking.


QC
Re: Theft or not? - John Kenyon
Phil Goodacre wrote:
>
> Why do the police charge car theives with the offence of
> 'taking a vehicle without the owners consent'? Why are they
> not charged with theft as you would be if you walked into
> Halfords and helped yourself from the till?

The "TWOC" offence exists because if it didn't a scrote could borrow your car
take it for a spin, and return it, and get away scot free, since he/she/it
could legitmately claim that they never intended to permanently deprive you of
the vehicle.
Re: Theft or not? - Mark (Brazil)
They're both exactly correct.

What happened was that the laws against theft were largely determined by case law. Essentially judging someone's guilt or not and of what offence was based upon every previous decision every made in even slightly related case.

Sadly, as so often happens, the government decided they could improve matters by passing a law which would supercede all previous case law and clean the whole matter up.

The problem was the used the phrase "with the intention to deprive the rightful owner permanently thereof" in the middle of the definition of theft.

This meant that proving that somebody took something was insufficient and entailed proving that they intended that the owner should never get it back.

This wasn't an issue in the case of something like money, for example, since it was typically spent and that is kind of permanent. It was an issue more or less everywhere else. However, there was even an example of a stolen fur coat which the "thief" insisted would have been given back eventually and therefore escaped prosecution.

Therefore they ended up in deep doggy do-dos. For a while they prosecuted the "thief" with the theft of the petrol in the car, since obviously the owner would never get that back. Sadly, the culprits twigged this one, and provided they filled it up with petrol before they abandoned it, they were again safe from prosecution, even if they were stopped while driving the car.

Now all of this excludes proper thieves because they've stolen or damged something in the car, or they've been caught dismantling it, or any other event you can think of implying "permanent" and these could be prosecuted. However, joyriding was a complete loop hole.

Fortunately they decided not to screw around with the theft act any further, thank god, and came up with the offence of "unauthorised taking and driving away" which required no proof of intent. The punishments were pretty high and so it filled the gap.

Interestingly it did raise another issue, in that if someone borrowed your car without your admitted permission they are guilty of this offence. i.e. you drive a rental car when you are not on the list of drivers and you will not only be done for no insurance, you will also be done for UT, which is pretty severe if you simply drove it in innocence and didn't have an accident.

Just goes to show what happens when politicians mess with the law.

And don't even get me started on the Sale of Goods act !!!!

M.
Re: Theft or not? - richard turpin
Amazing! I didn't know that there were so many lawyers on this site. As for a heavy penalty, TWOC carries a maximum of 6 months/£5000 fine plus mandatory 8 points or discretionary disqualification.
Re: Theft or not? - Dave
richard turpin wrote:
>
> Amazing! I didn't know that there were so many lawyers on
> this site. As for a heavy penalty, TWOC carries a maximum of
> 6 months/£5000 fine plus mandatory 8 points or discretionary
> disqualification.

But you'll only get a caution for your first 50 offences.
Re: Theft or not? - Mark (Brazil)

> TWOC carries a maximum of 6 months/£5000 fine plus mandatory 8
> points or discretionary disqualification.

Oh, I was sure from memory that there was a potential for custodial sentencing. no? Maybe that had to get damage in for that. Oh well, its been a while.

I must check, but I don't think there is even a UT offence here. Here theft is usually defined as something you didn't arrange with the police first.
 

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