Sahar Adatia.


Key Takeaways

This article outlines the penalties and defences for stealing in NSW and reflects on the case of a man that was sentenced after stealing thousands of dollars from his ex-partner while she slept.


In what can only be described as excruciatingly desperate and incredibly disturbing, a man from China has stolen thousands of dollars from his former partner by lifting her eyelids while she was sleeping in order to access her accounts via her phone’s facial recognition.

According to reports from local media, the whopping online theft took place when the 28-year-old from the city of Nanning had gone over to his ex-girlfriend’s home in December 2020 after telling her he wanted to discuss how he could pay back more than 60,000 yuan (just over $13,000AUD) that he had borrowed from the woman when they were in a relationship together.

At the time, the former partner was sick, and so the man, identified only by his surname of Huang, had offered to cook her a meal.

Huang proceeded to make the woman the meal, and when she wasn’t looking, secretly doused it with cold medicine.

As one would expect, this soon made her drowsy and lulled her into a deep sleep.

It was at this point that Huang took the opportunity to pinch his ex-girlfriend’s money.

While the woman – known only by the family name Dong – lay asleep, the man crept up on her and used her fingerprints to unlock her Huawei mobile phone.

He then raised her eyelids, placing her phone in front of her.

According to reports from news outlet Global Times, Huang was then able to access her Alipay payment platform with the phone recognition effected.

With access now granted to her accounts, the man swiftly changed the password.

He then transferred roughly $24,000AUD out of her account and into his own.


Huang Understood to Be in Huge Debt from History of Gambling

It is understood Huang had a history of gambling and had thus racked up hefty debts.

For this reason, he sought the ex-girlfriend’s money to pay them off.

Nevertheless, it didn’t take long for Dong to recognise that something ominous had happened.

The next morning, she received a message from her bank notifying her that she had made a large transfer of money.

Indeed, realising she had not done this herself, she quickly followed up the matter.

She informed police of the incident, who set up an investigation.

A few months later, Huang was arrested by police.

He has since been found guilty of theft by using secret methods to steal someone else’s property, and at a recent court hearing, was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison.

He was also ordered to pay a fine of 20,000 yuan (approximately $4,900AUD).

Stealing Offences in NSW

Whether you’re in debt from a history of gambling or just downright desperate, like it or not, it’s against the law to steal money or property that belongs to another person – and this is regardless of what the property is or its value.

If you are in NSW and you are found guilty of a stealing offence – also termed “larceny” offences – the penalties are weighty, as outlined in section 117 of the Crimes Act 1900.

Specifically, where the matter is resolved in the District Court, the maximum penalty you can face for stealing from a person is five years in jail.

That said, larceny offences tend to be finalised in the Local Court.

In the Local Court, the penalty is settled according to the value of the property or money that is stolen.

Where the value of the stolen property or money amounts to $2,000 or less, the maximum penalty you can face is two years in jail, a fine of $2,200, or both.

Where the value amounts to $5,000 or less, the maximum penalty increases to two years in jail, a fine of $5,500, or both.

Where the value amounts to more than $5,000, the maximum penalty again increases to two years in jail, a fine of $11,000, or both.

In regard to defences when it comes to larceny offences, it is important to note that an offence does not come to pass if the property or money was taken away for a temporary purpose and the person did not intend to deprive the owner of it permanently.

In addition to this, an offence also does not come to pass where the person had a genuine belief that they were entitled to the property – even if they were mistaken.

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