Larceny, Theft and Stealing Offences in NSW

Image credit: Viaval Tours

Poppy Morandin and Jimmy Singh.


A stolen life-size Big Bird costume has been returned to a circus in Adelaide, after the South Australian Police were called in to investigate.

The 213cm-tall ostrich feather costume is valued at $160,000.

Whilst dog patrols searched the area in which the costume was found, those believed to be responsible were not located.

Two males wearing dark clothing were seen carrying what appeared to be the stolen costume.

Police report that the costume was dumped near an electricity box outside the Sesame Street Circus Spectacular, and that the two males carrying it ran away.

The self-proclaimed ‘big bird bandits’ left a note in the beak expressing their remorse and stating: “we had no idea what we were doing, or what our actions would cause…We were just having a rough time and were trying to cheer ourselves up.”

“We had a great time with Mr. Bird, he’s a great guy and no harm came to our friend. Sorry to be such a big birden!” they continued.

The costume appears to be intact and has been returned to the circus.

The circus’ director Keith Brown stated that a trail of feathers were left by the “bandits”.

Police have stated that they will nonetheless continue investigation into the theft.

The gigantic costume was flown in from New York to take part in the circus, which features all of the Sesame Street’s characters.

The 90-minute production which was locally written and produced will tour South Australia, regional Victoria, and New South Wales.

They have since posted: “Yah yah yah!!! Big Bird has been returned safely to us at Bonython Park!  Thank you to everyone that assisted in helping his return and thank you to everyone for their messages of support!  Adelaide you are a true family!”

Statistics in NSW show that rates of stealing from a retail store, dwelling and person have all gone down in the last 24 months to December 2020. 

Larceny, Theft and Stealing Offences in NSW

In NSW, larceny is criminalised under section 117 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW).

Larceny is more commonly referred to as ‘theft’ or ‘stealing’.

The prosecution must prove, beyond reasonable doubt, that:

  • You took and carried away property,
  • The property belonged to another,
  • You did not have the owner’s consent,
  • That you intended to permanently deprive the owner of the property, and
  • That your actions were dishonest.

A maximum penalty of 5 years imprisonment is applicable if dealt with in the District Court.

If the property is valued at $5,000 or greater, a maximum penalty of 2 years imprisonment and/or a fine of $1,100 is applicable.

If the property is less than $5,000, a maximum penalty of 12 months imprisonment and/or a fine of $5,500 is applicable.

However, if the property concerned is less than $2000, the maximum fine applicable is $2,200 and/or 12-months imprisonment.

A defence is available in that an accused person may contend that the property was taken away for a temporary purpose and they did not intend to permanently deprive the owner of it.

However, this defence will not be proven if the court is satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that an accused person intended to appropriate the goods to their own use for their own benefit/for the benefit of another, even if they intended eventually to return the property.

This is outlined in section 118.

In the event that an accused person shoplifts an item worth less than $300, police are able to issue a Criminal Infringement Notice of $300 also known as a penalty notice ticket or on-the-spot-fine.

If the fine is paid, it will not result in a criminal record, and you will also avoid having to go to court over it.

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