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In depth guide to theft

As Used by the Open University

Legislation covered

Topics covered

  • Dishonesty
  • Appropriation
  • Property
  • Belonging to another
  • Intention to permanently deprive 
  • Low value shop lifting

Knowledge test

Start by writing down the the first part of the theft act from the legislation – as much as you know of s.1 (definition) and s.2 (dishonesty). It is written below the next video so once you’ve watched the video you can check and see how much you knew correctly. 


Dishonesty video

Before we look at the theft legislation it is important to have a good understanding of how theft is viewed and the case law that underpins it. Watch this video before moving on.


Knowledge check

Return to the legislation you wrote out at the beginning of the lesson and see if you were correct.


Definition s.1

Dishonesty s.2


Theft video

The theft video is long so we have included timestamps to help you navigate through.

  • Dishonesty – 00:50
  • Appropriation – 04:02
  • Property – 08:46
  • Belonging to another – 16:44
  • Intention to permanently deprive – 22:21
  • Low value shop lifting – 25:46
  • Summary – 28:24

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Applying understanding

Next we will test your understanding of the legislation. Select True for each of the following that can be stolen.



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Quick review


Summary

A person is guilty of theft if he dishonestly appropriates property belonging to another with the intention of permanently depriving the other of it. 

All parts of the theft definition need to be fulfilled for the offence to be complete. 

Dishonesty

A person is not dishonest if he appropriates the property in the belief that

  • (a) he has in law the right to deprive the other of it
  • (b) he would have the other’s consent if the other knew of the appropriation and the circumstances of it; or
  • (c) that the person to whom the property belongs cannot be discovered by taking reasonable steps.

And a person’s appropriation of property may not be dishonest if he is willing to pay for the property.

Appropriation

Appropriation occurs when someone assumes the right or rights of an owner, but appropriation itself is not theft. In order for there to be theft, the other elements of the offence (such asdishonesty) need to be present.

Appropriation envisages a physical act and property can be appropriated for the purposes of the theft act, even when the owner gives his consent or authority.

Appropriation can be a continuing event and the same property may be appropriated more than once, but once stolen, it cannot be stolen again by the same thief.Where property is transferred for value to a person acting in good faith it shall not amount to theft of the property.

Property

“Property” includes money and all other property, real or personal, including things in action and other intangible property. So here we are talking about physical money (coins and notes), personal property such as laptops, furniture, cars etc, land, things in action such as the credit in a bank account or a patent and intangible property like software.

In terms of theft of land, trustees breach, strangers sever and tenants take fixtures and structures.

A person who picks any of the 4 Fs (fungi, flowers, fruit or foliage) from a plant growing wild on any land, does not steal what he picks, unless he “picks for profit”.

A person can steal a wild creature who is tamed or normally kept in captivity, or the carcass of any such creature, as well as anything that has been or is being reduced into possession and has not been lost or abandoned.

Certain things are not classed as property and therefore cannot be stolen such as confidential information, human bodies (unless they have been altered using human skill), and electricity.

Belonging to another

The legislation talks of “belonging to” not “owner of”. So if someone has possession or control of property then it can be stolen from them, regardless of whether they are an owner.

Where a person gets property by another’s mistake, and is under an obligation to restore it, an intention not to restore it shall be regarded as an intention to deprive that person of the property or proceeds.

Intention to permanently deprive

If a person treats property as his own to dispose of regardless of the other’s rights; or borrows or lends it for a period and in circumstances making it equivalent to an outright taking or disposal he is regarded as having the intention of permanently depriving the other of it. This is also the case where he parts with property under a condition as to its return which he may not be able to perform (e.g., pawning the property).

Low value shoplifting

“Low-value shoplifting” is an offence in circumstances where the value of the stolen goods does not exceed £200 and the value of the stolen goods is the price at which they were being offered for sale at the time of the offence. If the person steals multiple goods, then their prices are added together.

Any reference to low-value shoplifting includes aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring the commission of low-value shoplifting.

Low-value shoplifting is triable only summarily. But where a person accused of low-value shoplifting is aged 18 or over the court must give the person the opportunity of electing to be tried by the Crown Court for the offence.


What next?

Now study another topic. This will give you time to find out how much you have actually remembered, and which areas have been forgotten.

Suggested topics –

  • Criminal damage (specifically the definition of property)
  • Burglary
  • Aggravated burglary

Return to theft at a later date and write out the definition of theft (before reading anything else), then check them against the legislation above. Any areas of weakness need to be returned to after a further break. Remember to keep extending the gap between reviewing work. Spaced repetition is the key.


20 Questions

Now you have returned to theft after studying other topics, take the quiz to see how much information you have retained.


Sign up to our in-depth training series to cover robbery, burglary, blackmail and a load more topics!

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Help for dyslexia

Our in-depth explainer videos can be a fantastic learning resource for individuals with dyslexia, making the learning process more engaging and accessible compared to traditional textbooks. Here’s a breakdown of why:

Visual Learning: Our videos use visuals like diagrams and images to convey information, which can be easier to understand and remember than text based learning.

Audio Support: Our videos include narration and explanations spoken aloud. Listening to information can be much easier than reading text, allowing you to grasp concepts without the strain of decoding words on a page.

Engagement and Interest: Our videos are more engaging than static text. They make learning more enjoyable and less frustrating.

Pace Control: With our videos, you can pause, rewind and rewatch sections as needed. This control allows you to learn at your own pace, spending extra time on concepts that are difficult to understand.

Multi-Sensory Learning: Our videos stimulate multiple senses at once — seeing and hearing — which can enhance understanding and retention. Multi-sensory learning experiences are often recommended because they tap into the brain’s different ways of processing information.

Reduced Reading Load: Our videos still use text, giving you the best of both worlds, but by focussing less on text and more on spoken words and visuals, they significantly reduce the amount of reading required. This can relieve the stress and fatigue associated with heavy reading tasks, making learning feel more accessible and less daunting.

Contextual Clues: Visual and auditory elements in our videos provide context that can help you understand complex concepts. The visuals provide immediate context and clarity.

Our in-depth videos offer a learning route that can bypass some of the hurdles dyslexic learners face with traditional reading. By focusing on audio and visual learning, these videos can create a more helpful learning environment for diverse learning needs.

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Public order act 2023

This study guide covers the offences of:

  • Locking on
  • Being equipped for locking on
  • Interference with use or operation of key national infrastructure

There is a downloadable version at the end of this guide.

Looking for more free guides? Find them here!

Locking On

Locking On

The Public Order Act 2023, s.1

It is a defence to prove that they had a reasonable excuse for the act of attaching themselves, another or an object.

Dwelling definition

Serious Disruption

The cases in which individuals or an organisation may suffer serious disruption include, in particular, where the individuals or the organisation

(a) are by way of physical obstruction prevented, or hindered to more than a minor degree, from carrying out

(i) their day-to-day activities (including in particular the making of a journey),

(ii) construction or maintenance works, or

(iii) activities related to such works,

(b) are prevented from making or receiving, or suffer a delay that is more than minor to the making or receiving of, a delivery of a time-sensitive product, or

(c) are prevented from accessing, or suffer a disruption that is more than minor to the accessing of, any essential goods or any essential service.


Time Sensitive Product

“Time-sensitive product” means a product whose value or use to its consumers may be significantly reduced by a delay in the supply of the product to them.

Reference to accessing essential goods or essential services includes in particular a reference to accessing

  • (i) the supply of money, food, water, energy or fuel,
  • (ii) a system of communication,
  • (iii) a place of worship,
  • (iv) a transport facility,
  • (v) an educational institution, or 
  • (vi) a service relating to health.

Being Equipped for Locking On

Being equipped for locking on

The Public Order Act 2023, s.2


Interference With Use or Operation of Key National Infrastructure

Interference With Use or Operation of Key National Infrastructure

The Public Order Act 2023, s.7

It is a defence to prove 

  • they had a reasonable excuse for the act, or
  • the act was done wholly or mainly in contemplation or furtherance of a trade dispute.

Key National Infrastructure

Key national infrastructure” means –

  • (a) road transport infrastructure,
  • (b) rail infrastructure,
  • (c) air transport infrastructure,
  • (d) harbour infrastructure,
  • (e) downstream oil infrastructure,
  • (f) downstream gas infrastructure,
  • (g) onshore oil and gas exploration and production infrastructure,
  • (h) onshore electricity generation infrastructure, or
  • (i) newspaper printing infrastructure.

The Secretary of State may add, vary or remove a kind of infrastructure.


Download study guide

Click here to download.


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Relevant Time

Relevant time

Welcome to our guide on relevant time. This is part of our virtual crammer course which you can purchase here. It includes crammer books, audios, flash cards, exam questions and our in-depth guide to crime. All purchases include a copy of the “hot list” topics and a revision guide to get you going. Or you can buy just the flash cards, exam questions and our in-depth guide to crime here.

Legislation covered

Topics covered

  • Relevant time

Knowledge test

Try this quick flash card knowledge check on relevant time to see how much you know before you move on.


Relevant time lesson video


Summary

You can right click on the image to save it. It is also available as a PDF to download.

Police promotion exam relevant time

What next…?

Before completing the 20 questions below and rather than review the topics above any further at this point, move on to study another topic. This will give you time to find out how much you have actually remembered, and which areas have been forgotten.


20 questions

Now you have returned to relevant time after studying other topics, take the quiz to see how much information you have retained.


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Burglary/Aggravated Burglary – knowledge test

BURGLARY

Knowledge test

Start by writing down the burglary legislation – as much as you know of s.9. It is written below the video so once you’ve watched the video you can check and see how much you knew correctly. Don’t worry about the aggravated offence, we will cover s.10 later.


Burglary lesson video


Knowledge check

Return to the legislation you wrote out at the beginning of the lesson and see if you were correct.

A person is guilty of burglary if—

(a) he enters any building or part of a building as a trespasser and with intent to commit any such offence as is mentioned in subsection (2) below; or

(b) having entered any building or part of a building as a trespasser he steals or attempts to steal anything in the building or that part of it or inflicts or attempts to inflict on any person therein any grievous bodily harm.

Make a note of anything you missed or wrote incorrectly. These will become the areas you need to work on.


Comparison

Here we highlight the difference between the two sub-sections of the section 9 offence. Notice how in s.9(1)(a) we are concerned with intent and in s.9(1)(b) we are concerned with behaviour. Unlawful damage only applies to s.9(1)(a) and attempts only apply to s.9(1)(b).

You can right click and save this image.

Applying understanding

Next we will test your understanding of the legislation. Look at the following examples and decide which are burglaries. Each questions carries on from the previous one.


Quick review

Review the core parts of burglary with these flash cards.


AGGRAVATED BURGLARY

Knowledge test

Start by writing down the aggravated burglary legislation – as much as you know of s.10. It is written below the video so once you’ve watched the video you can check and see how much you knew correctly.


Aggravated burglary lesson video


Knowledge check

Return to the legislation you wrote out at the beginning of the lesson and see if you were correct.

A person is guilty of aggravated burglary if,

he commits any burglary and at the time has with him any firearm or imitation firearm, any weapon of offence, or any explosive; and for this purpose—

(a) “firearm” includes an airgun or air pistol, and “imitation firearm” means anything which has the appearance of being a firearm, whether capable of being discharged or not; and

(b) “weapon of offence” means any article made or adapted for use for causing injury to or incapacitating a person, or intended by the person having it with him for such use; and

(c) “explosive” means any article manufactured for the purpose of producing a practical effect by explosion, or intended by the person having it with him for that purpose.

Make a note of anything you missed or wrote incorrectly. These will become the areas you need to work on.


Applying understanding

Next we will test your understanding of the legislation. Look at the following examples and decide which are aggravated burglaries. Each questions is independent from the previous one.


Quick review

Review the core parts of aggravated burglary with these flash cards.


Summary

Burglary

Buildings include inhabited vehicles or vessels even when unoccupied. Entry need only be effective and deliberate, it does not require your entire body to enter the building, and insertion of an instrument (to enable the offence of burglary to take place) is considered entry.

A trespasser is someone who enters another persons property unlawfully. The defendant must have been a trespasser when they entered the building or part of the building or have been reckless to the fact. This includes where a person moves from a part of a building where they have permission to be to another part where they do not, or enters a part of the building that is clearly out of bounds (even without physical separation). But this does not include where someone who becomes a trespasser by exceeding a condition of entry. 

s.9(1)(a) is about entering with intent to steal, inflict GBH or cause unlawful damage regardless of their ultimate behaviour. s.9(1)(b) is concerned with their behaviour – stealing, inflicting GBH or attempting either.

Remember the rule of doors. Every time the defendant walks through a door we ask ourselves “Is he entering as a trespasser?”, if he is, we then ask ourselves, “does he enter with intent to steal, inflict GBH or unlawful damage?”. If he enters as a trespasser, but doesn’t enter with intent, we then ask ourselves “does he go on to steal, attempt to steal, inflict GBH or attempt GBH?”

Aggravated burglary

The articles this legislation are concerned with are: 

  • Weapon of offence
  • Imitation firearm
  • Firearm
  • Explosive

A weapon of offence means “any article made or adapted for use for causing injury to or incapacitating a person, or intended by the person having it with him for such use.”An imitation firearm simply has to have the the appearance of a firearm.Firearms include airguns and air pistols.Explosive means “any article manufactured for the purpose of producing a practical effect by explosion, or intended by the person having it with him for that purpose.” 

The WIFE must be with the person at the time of the burglary. If a s.9(1)(a) burglary is committed, then the WIFE must be with him when he entered the building or part of the building as a trespasser with intent to steal, inflict GBH or cause unlawful damage.In a s.9(1)(b) burglary, having entered a building or part of a building as a trespasser, the offence is committed when he has a WIFE with him as he steals (or attempts to steal), or inflicts GBH (or attempts to inflict GBH).

The WIFE must be “with him” and this can mean the defendant was carrying the offensive weapon or has it in his immediate control.

And finally, there must be knowledge of the WIFE or the intention to use an article offensively.


What next…?

Before completing the 20 questions below and rather than review the topic of burglary any further at this point, move on to study another topic. This will give you time to find out how much you have actually remembered, and which areas have been forgotten.

Suggested topics –

  • Weapons
  • Firearms
  • Blackmail
  • Robbery

Return to burglary at a later date and write out both s.9 and s.10 offences (before reading anything else), then check them against the legislation above. Any areas of weakness need to be returned to after a further break. Remember to keep extended the gap between reviewing work. Spaced repetition is the key.

20 questions

Now you have returned to burglary after studying other topics, take the quiz to see how much information you have retained.

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Burglary study video


Buildings include inhabited vehicles or vessels even when unoccupied. Entry need only be effective and deliberate, it does not require your entire body to enter the building, and insertion of an instrument (to enable the offence of burglary to take place) is considered entry.

A trespasser is someone who enters another persons property unlawfully. The defendant must have been a trespasser when they entered the building or part of the building or have been reckless to the fact. This includes where a person moves from a part of a building where they have permission to be to another part where they do not, or enters a part of the building that is clearly out of bounds (even without physical separation). But this does not include where someone who becomes a trespasser by exceeding a condition of entry. 

s.9(1)(a) is about entering with intent to steal, inflict GBH or cause unlawful damage regardless of their ultimate behaviour. s.9(1)(b) is concerned with their behaviour – stealing, inflicting GBH or attempting either.

Remember the rule of doors. Every time the defendant walks through a door we ask ourselves “Is he entering as a trespasser?”, if he is, we then ask ourselves, “does he enter with intent to steal, inflict GBH or unlawful damage?”. If he enters as a trespasser, but doesn’t enter with intent, we then ask ourselves “does he go on to steal, attempt to steal, inflict GBH or attempt GBH?”

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Preparing for the exam – the night before

Exam prep

Video transcript –

When you’ve put so much time and effort into studying for an exam, you want to make sure you’re perfectly prepared the day before too. 

The first step is to stop drinking any caffeine by lunch time. The half-life of caffeine (that’s the time taken for the body to eliminate one-half of the caffeine) is about 5 hours, so if you drink it after lunch, it can still be in your system when you go to bed. Play it safe and stop by lunchtime. 

What about last minute study? Don’t leave it until the evening as it may be harder to get to sleep when you have things on your mind. Try and complete any study before dinner.

If you’re driving to the exam venue the next day, make sure your car is full of fuel and you know where you can park, as well as a plan A and a plan B in case the venue is busy. If you have a long way to travel, it may well  be worth the investment to book a hotel near the venue for the night. 

Prepare everything you need for the following day. Everything for the exam, like pens, paper, water, ID you need to take, as well as all your personal effects. Choose your clothes for the day and lay them out in the order you need to put them on. Prepare what you need for breakfast so it’s all ready to go. Put your wallet and keys where you can find them. You want to eliminate every decision you need to make the following day so all your decision making is saved for the exam. This is also designed to reduce stress, so you can turn up feeling as relaxed as possible.

Don’t eat your dinner too late. You don’t want to go to bed hungry, but an earlier meal won’t interrupt your sleep. Eating at least 3 hours before bed is a good option. If you eat at 5:30pm you can be in bed by 9pm.

So, let’s talk about bed. You ideally need to be asleep by 10pm to allow your brain to complete all its housekeeping and cleaning! So getting into bed at 9pm without any screens, like your phone, will help you relax. The light from screens can keep you awake and disrupt your sleep cycle. Try reading rather than watching TV. This would be a great time to meditate too. Anxiety the night before an exam will interfere with your sleep and reduce your performance the next day. It can be difficult to clear your mind, but music can absorb your attention and act as a distraction. This means it can be a great aid to meditation.

We’ve linked a song below that neuroscience says can reduce anxiety by up to 65%. It’s from the results of a study where participants attempted to solve difficult puzzles as quickly as possible. The puzzles induced a certain level of stress, and participants listened to different songs while researchers measured brain activity as well as physiological states like heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rates. Listening to this one song called “Weightless”, resulted in a 65 percent reduction in participants’ overall anxiety, and a 35 percent reduction in their usual physiological resting rates. That’s a real bonus for the exam.

Don’t forget that the difference between a pass and a fail is only one mark. Preparing well the night before an exam means that you don’t leave anything to chance.