Larceny vs Theft: Difference between Larceny and Theft

larceny vs theft

Although the terms larceny and theft are often used interchangeably, they have different meanings with distinct definitions. It doesn’t matter how much security you have; no one is exempt from suffering a theft or larceny of property.

On many occasions, the victim files a complaint and subsequently wants to report the incident to the insurance they have contracted. But they find that there are various kinds of occurrences, and not all stealing is the same.

So, if you want to know the details about larceny vs. theft, keep reading as we are about to discuss what is difference between theft and larceny?

What is Larceny?

What is considered larceny? It is the most common type of theft where anyone takes someone’s property without telling him. It can be a movable object or property of the owner. In this case, you intend to take advantage of the absence of the owner.

Larceny refers to the unjust removal of an object without the use of violence. There is no violence or break-in. In larceny, the offender does not have to face major obstacles (for example, the balcony door or a window is open).

Example: the best example can be shoplifting. When the shop owner is looking away or absent, taking one of his goods from the shop is larceny.

Another example can be the stealing of office supplies from the office without telling anyone.

Types of Larceny: Petty Theft vs. Grand Larceny

Larceny has different levels depending on the degree. Petty theft or petty larceny and grand larceny are actually the same offense with different severity.

What is Grand Larceny

Usually, Grand larceny in Canada or grand theft in Canada is the taking away of property of 500$ to 1000 $ without the consent of the owner. It is a higher degree of the offense. It is considered a felony and punished with up to 3 years of jail and a fine.

What is Petty Theft?

Petty theft in Canada or petit larceny is a lesser serious crime. It usually involves the stealing of property of less than 500$ without telling the owner. It is mostly considered a misdemeanor. The penalty is usually just fine and sometimes jail-time for up to 6 months.

What is Theft?

A theft crime is an act of taking the thing with the intention of being the owner, exercising power over it. For such a seizure to be configured as illegal, it must be done without the right and consent of the asset’s legitimate owner.

The “thing” in question may be,

  • A material good:  an object, a vehicle, a jewel, money
  • An intangible asset recorded on a material medium (USB key, hard drive): a license, a patent, etc.

Here are some examples of the circumstances where it can be theft:

  • The theft is committed by several, without an organized gang
  • It is committed by a person holding public authority in the exercise of his functions
  • He is committed to a school or public transport
  • His motive is racist
  • The theft is committed with willful concealment of the face
  • It is accompanied by destruction or deterioration.

The penalty of theft

There are two kinds of penalties for two types of theft. According to Canadian criminal law

  • If a theft charge is less than 5000$, the penalty is a maximum of 6 months of jail and/or fine.
  • In case of charges over 5000$, the convicted can face 10 years of imprisonment.

Elements of Theft vs. Elements of Larceny

Not so surprisingly, theft and larceny have the same elements. The main difference is in the degree of severity and the taking away of property.

It will not be considered larceny or theft in general if it doesn’t follow the following elements:

It must be illegal taking of property: the first element is to be a movable property. And if it is an immovable object, the criminal must take control of the object. In simple words, the owner must be deprived of the benefits of the object.

Here, the difference between larceny and theft will be no violence or aggression in larceny. But in theft, there may be some level of aggression (burglary, breaking-in, etc.).

It has to be someone else’s: it is another important element of larceny and theft. The object must be someone else’s property. The offender cannot take his own property from others.

Reminder: if the offender and the offended co-own property and the offender take away the property, it will be larceny or theft. But if the offender owns the property, but someone else uses it, taking it away won’t be larceny or theft.

It must be taken without the owner’s knowing: of course, the offender must take away the property without the owner’s consent.

The intention has to deprive the owner of the benefits of the product: If someone takes it to use for someday and returns after someday, it will not be larceny or theft. The intention must be to take the property forever.

Again in larceny, there might not be any planning, but the offender may be well-planned in the theft.


As we said at the starting of the article, the difference between larceny and theft is not broad. When describing larceny vs. theft, most people get confused. In any case, you should be well-prepared to save yourself from theft.

And if you face any of these problems, it is better to contact an experienced lawyer. He will know how to approach to get full compensation from the insurance company.




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