The offence of theft is defined in section 1(1) of the Theft Act 1968, which states that an individual is guilty of theft if they dishonestly appropriate property belonging to another with the intention to permanently deprive the other of it. The maximum conviction for theft is 7 years.
The actus reus of theft is appropriation of property belonging to another. Appropriation is defined in section 3(1) Theft Act 1968 as assuming the rights of an owner. Section 4(1) of the Theft Act states that property includes money and all other property, including things in action and intangible property. Unless a person intends to give back the exact same money (e.g. notes and coins) they have the intention to permanently deprive the victim those particular notes and coins they have assumed the rights of. Mike in scenario one is intending to permanently deprive, as he did not return the battery and took the money. If he did not intend to replace the exact money he took it is theft. ‘Things in action’ are a personal property right legally enforced for example by a patent or a right arising under a trust. ‘Intangible property’ has no physical existence.
Section 5(1) of the Theft Act 1968 states that property is seen as belonging to any other person having possession of it. Carla in scenario two has taken the handbag when it clearly belonged to another person. This means that a person could be liable for theft of their own property if it is seen to be in the possession of another. This happened in R v Turner 1971. The defendant took his car in to a service station for repairs. When he went to pick it up he saw that the car was left outside with the key in, so he took the car without paying for the repairs. He was found liable for theft of his own car as the car was seen as belonging to the service station as they were in possession of it.
Section 5(4) says that if a person receives property by mistake, they are under obligation to return the property. Failure to restore the...