What is a Theft Arrest?

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  • Written By: Jessica Ellis
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 22 March 2020
  • Copyright Protected:
    Conjecture Corporation
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Theft, also called stealing, is the act of illegally taking something from a person or entity. A theft arrest occurs when a law enforcement agency takes custody of a person suspected of committing theft. Although there are variations between legal proceedings depending on the region that has jurisdiction, most courts will require that evidence of a crime be presented in order to justify holding a suspect in custody after a theft arrest. If the evidence satisfies the court's requirements, most suspects will be put on trial for specific theft charges.

There are many different kinds of stealing for which a person may be subject to a theft arrest. Retail theft or shoplifting involves removing goods from a business or retail store without paying for them. Property theft is a term used to describe the crime of taking goods from another citizen who legally owns them. Identity theft involves using private details about another person, such as his or her name, address, or credit card numbers, in order to obtain things.


A theft arrest is made when a law enforcement body has a reasonable belief that a crime has been committed by the suspect. The evidence that allows an arrest to be made can be based on observation, such as seeing a person shoplift or viewing a security camera tape that shows the suspect stealing. Arrests may also be made possible after a period of tracking the suspect, and discovering records, details, or even stolen items that may implicate him or her in the crime.

Usually after a theft arrest, the suspect is taken to a jail or holding center. The suspect may be fingerprinted or photographed as part of the intake process of the holding center. Police or other officials may interview the suspect to gather information about the crime and the suspect's version of the story. Once law enforcement has enough evidence to proceed, the suspect can be charged, tried, and sentenced according to the laws of the region.

Theft charges that are filed after a theft arrest often depend on the type of crime committed, the value of the goods taken, and any associated crime. Some commonly filed charges associated with theft include trespassing, breaking and entering, fraud and assault. These charges can carry additional penalties, and any evidence of violence, intimidation, or weapons during a theft can increase a sentence drastically.

Some people do undergo a theft arrest as a result of a mistake, a misunderstanding, or other extenuating circumstances. This is why, in many regions, a person under arrest is allowed access to a lawyer and given a trial where he or she can make a case for innocence. Having a basic understanding of the legal system of any region visited or resided in is advisable, as mistaken arrests can occur. It is vitally important to understand the rights granted to a suspect in order to prevent being sentenced for a crime he or she did not commit.



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