Types of Theft Offenses

Petit Larceny

In New York, the basic crime of theft is called “petit larceny”, a class A misdemeanor, which is defined as “stealing property”, and is perhaps most often used to prosecute shoplifting.

Types of Grand Larceny

The crime of “grand larceny” involves petit larceny, aggravated by one or more factors.

Grand larceny in the fourth degree

This is a class E felony, that involves stealing property where:

  • The value of the property stolen exceeds one thousand dollars; or
  • The character of the property stolen consists of: a publicly filed “public record”; “secret scientific material”; a credit card; a debit card; a firearm; a rifle; a shotgun; or
  • The combined character and value of the property stolen consist of: a motor vehicle worth more than $100; or any item “used in connection with religious worship in any building or place used as a place of religious worship by a religious corporation” worth at least $100; or
  • The thief has illicit intent regarding the property stolen consisting of: an “access device” stolen with the intent “to use unlawfully to obtain telephone service”; or “anhydrous ammonia or liquified ammonia gas” stolen with the intent that it be used “to manufacture methamphetamine”; or
  • The theft location is “from the person of another” (for example pickpocketing); or
  • The means of theft is “by extortion”.

Grand larceny in the third degree

This is a class D felony, that involves stealing property where the value of the property stolen exceeds $3,000.

Grand larceny in the second degree

As a class C felony, involves stealing property where:

  • The value of the property stolen exceeds $50,000; or
  • The means of theft involves certain forms of extortion.

Grand larceny in the first degree

This class B felony involves stealing property where the value of the property exceeds $1,000,000.


Other Theft-Related Crimes

More exotic variations of theft under the Penal Law include “welfare fraud”, “unauthorized use of a vehicle”, “auto stripping”, “theft of services” (turnstile jumping), “fraudulent accosting” (confidence schemes), “criminal possession of stolen property”, “trademark counterfeiting”, “forgery”, “criminal possession of a forged instrument”, “illegal possession of a vehicle identification number”, “insurance fraud”, “health care fraud”, “bribery”, “frauds on creditors”, “residential mortgage fraud”, “issuing a bad check”, “criminal impersonation”, “criminal usury” (loansharking), “scheme to defraud”, “criminal use of an access device”, and “identity theft”.

More serious forms of theft include “robbery”, which involves forcibly stealing property; and “burglary”, which often involves unlawfully entering property with the intent to steal property from inside. These crimes are often treated as violent felonies. They tend to be prosecuted more aggressively and punished more harshly.

Theft Penalties

The maximum prison term that a person can serve for a single act of theft is 25 years for class B theft felonies such as grand larceny in the first degree, burglary in the first degree, and robbery in the first degree.

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