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Theft is the taking of another person’s personal property with the intent of depriving that person of the use of their property. Also referred to as larceny

Theft is often divided into grand theft and petty theft. If the value of the stolen goods is over a certain amount determined by the state’s statute, then the crime may be elevated to grand theft. The type of goods stolen may impact whether the theft is grand or petty as well. For example, California Penal Code § 487 states that grand theft is theft committed when the value of the stolen goods exceeds $950 or an automobile or firearm, among other types of goods, are taken. California Penal Code § 488 defines petty theft as theft that is not grand theft. Grand theft may be a felony or a misdemeanor depending on the severity of the theft and jurisdiction, while petty theft is a misdemeanor. 

[Last updated in November of 2021 by the Wex Definitions Team]