New Larceny and Stealing Laws in NSW

Poppy Morandin and Jimmy Singh.

 

Stolen goods worth more than $11,000 have been recovered following a targeted three-day shoplifting operation conducted across the Sydney CBD and Eastern Suburbs.

The operation was dubbed ‘Operation Lightfingers’, with officers from the Central Metropolitan Region, Eastern Suburbs, Leichhardt and Sydney City Police Area Commands participating.

Loss Prevention officers and security staff connected to the shopping malls also assisted.

Major retail outlets across the Sydney CBD, Ultimo and Bondi areas were monitored, leading to the arrest of 84 people who were charged with 99 offences.

Of those arrested, 33 people were charged, 43 were issued Criminal Infringement Notices (CINs), four were issued warnings, and four young people were issued youth cautions.

The stolen goods recovered were worth a total of $11,269.

The goods recovered included electronic goods, clothing, perfume, bags, and groceries.

Those charged included a pair of women, aged 31 and 26, who were stopped outside a store in Bondi Junction.

After searching the women’s shopping trolley, officers located clothing and cosmetic items valued at more than $3,480 allegedly concealed in bags, as well as a magnetic de-tagging device.

The women were both issued with Court Attendance Notices for shoplifting and being armed with intent.

They also received 12-month banning notices.

“With the easing of COVID-19 restrictions across the state, we have seen an influx of shoppers heading back to major retail outlets ahead of Christmas this year,” said Central Metropolitan Region Enforcement Squad (South) Commander, Detective Acting Inspector Matthew Stratton.

“This in turn has created opportunities for thieves, who take advantage of increased foot traffic and busy sales staff to steal items.” he continued.

Stratton noted how: “retail theft continues to cost the industry billions of dollars each year, which is why we remain committed to cracking down on those who attempt to take goods without paying for them.” 

Despite this, it is notable that in the recent recorded crime statistics, there has been a 10.9% decrease in recorded ‘steal from retail store’ offences.

New Larceny and Stealing Laws in NSW

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

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

The prosecution must prove, beyond reasonable doubt, that an accused person took and carried away property that belonged to another, without consent.

Furthermore, it must be proven that the accused person intended to permanently deprive the owner of the property.

Therefore, a defence is available if the accused person temporarily took the property away and 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.

Another type of defence to a larceny charge is if you took the property or item due to a belief that you were entitled, although mistakenly, to it.

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

If the value of the stolen property is $5,000 or less, the maximum penalty is 2-years imprisonment and/or a maximum fine of $5,500 in the Local Court.

If the value of the stolen property is $2,000 or less, the maximum penalty is 2-years imprisonment and/or a maximum fine of $2,200 in the Local Court.

If the value of the stolen property is more than $5,000, the maximum penalty is 2-years imprisonment and/or a maximum fine of $11,000 in the Local Court.

If the value of the stolen property is less than $300, then police may issue a penalty notice fine or also referred to as an on-the-spot fine of $300. If a penalty notice fine is issued, then no criminal conviction results if paid. Nor will you be required to attend court for it.

This fine is referred to as a ‘criminal infringement notice’ and will not show up on a criminal record.

Whilst these infringement notices may be disputed in court, if the defendant chooses to do so, they risk the maximum penalty outlined above if found guilty.

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