A theft of another’s personal items is usually classified as common theft or petty theft depending on the value of the property stolen. Another term for such a crime is larceny. Personal item theft typically involves the theft of small personal items, such as:

  • Jewelry
  • Wallets and purses
  • Electronics
  • Phones, computers, and tablets
  • Clothing (especially hats and shoes)

In many cases, these items may be "snatched" when the person isn’t looking. Personal item theft is often distinguished from other types of theft such as retail theft, as the item is usually not for sale by a retailer, and may often have sentimental value for the owner. Personal item theft that is accomplished by force is called robbery and involves more serious penalties than a non-violent theft.

What Are the Penalties for Personal Item Theft?

Penalties for personal item theft may depend on the value of the property that was stolen. Minor theft crimes usually result in misdemeanor charges, which are punishable under criminal laws by fines and possible jail sentences (usually less than one year).

However, for more serious theft charges, a felony larceny conviction may result. This is punishable by higher criminal fines and longer sentences. Felony charges usually result from thefts that are over a certain dollar amount (for instance over $500).

What Are Some other Points to Consider Regarding Personal Item Thefts?

One thing to consider when dealing with personal item theft crimes is that they are often linked to bigger schemes involving identity theft. For instance, a thief may steal a person’s wallet, purse, backpack, or cell phone. They may be doing this not only to take the item, but also to gain access to account numbers, passwords, etc.

Therefore, if you’ve experienced a personal theft, you should always check your accounts and your personal information to make sure your accounts haven’t been compromised.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with Personal Item Theft Laws?

Theft crimes can sometimes lead to serious legal penalties. You may wish to hire a criminal defense lawyer if you will be involved in a criminal trial for personal item theft violations. Your lawyer can guide you though the process and can represent you during court meetings. Also, your attorney can advise you of how the theft laws in your area may affect you, as they’re different in each state.