Larceny by stealth involves the perpetrator stealing the property of another person without the use of force and without being noticed. However, stealing that property must still contain the other elements of larceny in order to be prosecuted. For example, the person must be guilty of stealing the personal property with the intent to permanently prevent the owner from having possession of the property.
For example, an individual may be guilty of petty larceny when they shoplift. Generally, shoplifting is a theft by stealth. In other words, shoplifters do not generally employ force in order to commit their crime. In fact, many cases of petty larceny involve stealth so that criminals can avoid detection and prosecution.
In many offices across the country, employees commit petty larceny by stealth on a fairly frequent basis. For example, an employee may use a postage machine in the office in order to get postage for personal mail. Obviously, the person is guilty of petty larceny, but no force was utilized to steal the company’s property. Therefore, that would be a crime of stealth.
Another example is a person that is walking down a road and notices a bike that they believe would be a great gift for a friend. They come up with a plan in order to steal the bike without being noticed. They may have an obvious intent to deprive the person of a bike, but they will not likely include the use of force in their plan. The individual does eventually commit petty larceny by stealing the bike while no one is looking and finally gives the bike to his friend.
While the perpetrator permanently deprived the person of their property and met the other factors necessary for theft, no force was utilized to deprive someone of their property. Petty larceny is often a crime of stealth in which the victim may not even immediately notice that a crime has been committed.
One of the best examples of theft by stealth is a pickpocket. In that case, the person is guilty of stealing, but the victim is not likely aware that a crime has just occurred. Usually, the victim only realizes their wallet is gone when they eventually go to reach for it. Crimes of stealth by their very nature generally include victims that are not immediately aware that any property has been stolen.
Criminals that employ stealth are swift and easily able to avoid detection while they steal property. Many times, victims of larceny by stealth find that the perpetrator will not be caught unless the perpetrator is actually observed committing a similar crime.