grand theft

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Grand theft, also referred to as Grand larceny by varying states including New York, is a criminal offense that involves the unlawful taking of property with the intention to permanently deprive the owner of its possession. It is considered a more severe form of theft than petit theft (or petty larceny), which typically involves smaller amounts of property.

The line between grand theft and petty theft is often determined by the value of the property stolen, with grand theft applying when the property is more valuable than a specific dollar amount as identified by law. This amount varies between states but is typically between $1,000 and $5,000. In some states, the law may consider all the property stolen from a single owner, a single location, or as part of a single criminal impulse as a group of items and in others, it can't be grouped together if there are different victims or there was no unifying plan to steal. Additionally, grand theft can also occur if a specific type of property is stolen, such as automobiles, firearms, and drugs, even if that property is not worth the minimum amount required for grand theft. 

For example: 

  • California Penal Code [CPC] §§487(a) – (d), states that Grand Theft is committed when an individual steals property or services valued at more than $950, or if they steal an automobile, a firearm, or fish from a commercial fishery or a research operation.
  • New York Penal Code §155, states that Grand Larceny may be applied if the stolen property is valued at over $1,000, or if the stolen property is a firearm, credit card, or vehicle, or if you steal from another person.
  • There are four levels of severity of grand larceny charges, each corresponding to the value of the stolen property.

[Last updated in January of 2023 by the Wex Definitions Team]