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Criminal Law

Theft and Property Offences

What are Property Offences?

Property offences broadly concern the destruction, damage and theft of property.

Theft and property offences range from minor summary offences to serious indictable offences and can carry with them significant penalties. Seek legal advice.


Property Damage Offences

Under the Crimes Act, it is unlawful to intentionally cause damage or destroy another person's property without their permission. This offence is punishable by a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment. Property is anything that can be owned by a person, so under current Victorian law, includes living things, such as pets.

Some property damage offences, also known as wilful or criminal damage offences, include:

  • Arson;
  • Graffiti;
  • Tampering with a motor vehicle; and
  • Threats to damage or destroy property.

Property damage can be very serious. Some specific offences, such as arson where a person's life is put in danger, carry a maximum penalty of 15 years imprisonment. Talk to Galbally & O'Bryan's experienced criminal law team to receive advice in relation to property damage offences.

Arson causing death is covered by Section 197A of the Act. A person who commits arson and causes the death of another person faces a maximum penalty of 25 years imprisonment.

Causing a bushfire, intentionally or through reckless behaviour, is a crime under Section 201A. It typically involves someone lighting a fire and then being reckless as to that fire's spread onto property belonging to another. It is punishable by a maximum penalty of 15 years imprisonment.


Theft Offences

Section 72 of the Crimes Act legislates dishonestly appropriating property that belongs to someone else, with the intention of permanently depriving the person of that property.

Theft-related offences include:

  • Shoplifting;
  • Obtaining by deception;
  • Burglary;
  • Robbery and armed robbery;
  • Handling stolen goods; and
  • Receiving stolen goods.

Stealing a car to drive around in, even if you intend to return it, is also theft.

Burglary is the act of entering a person's property with the intention to steal. It is an offence under Section 76, and carries a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment.

Aggravated burglary is the commission of the above offences, with aggravating factors, for example, whilst also being in possession of a firearm or offensive weapon, or while a person is present in the building. Under Section 77, it carries a maximum penalty of 25 years imprisonment.

If you require legal advice with respect to a theft or property offence, our experienced criminal lawyers can assist you. Contact them now.



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The information on this website is of a general nature only and may not reflect recent changes to certain areas of law. It should not be relied upon as a substitute for discussing your situation with a qualified legal practitioner. Contact us for more information.