Stealing is defined in s391 of the Criminal Code (Qld). Stealing can be defined in terms of either fraudulent stealing or fraudulent conversion. Fraudulent stealing takes place where a person takes anything capable of being stolen. Fraudulent conversion takes place where the person fraudulently converts to their own use or the use of another person anything capable of being stolen.

A thing is capable of being stolen if it is:

  • Moveable; or
  • Capable of being made moveable, even if it is made moveable in order to steal it.

A person who takes or converts anything capable of being stolen is deemed to do so fraudulently if it is done with any of the following intents:

  • An intent to permanently deprive the owner of it;
  • An intent to permanently deprive any person who has any special property in it;
  • An intent to use the thing as a pledge or security ;
  • An intent to part with it on a condition as to its return which the person taking or converting it may be unable to perform;
  • An intent to deal with it in such a manner that it cannot be returned in the condition in which it was at the time of the taking or converting;
  • In the case of money – an intent to use it at the will of the person who takes or converts it, although the person afterwards may intend to repay the amount to the owner.

It is immaterial whether the thing being converted was taken to be converted.

When a thing converted has been lost by the owner and found by the person who converts it, the conversion is not deemed to be fraudulent if at the time of the conversion the person taking or converting the thing does not know who is the owner, and believes, on reasonable grounds, that the owner cannot be discovered. Furthermore there can be no theft of property which has been abandoned by the owner (R v Thurborn [1848] 1 Den 387).  It must establish that the thing being stolen is the property of someone as if the property belongs to no one it cannot be stolen.

Stealing in punishable in s398 and in s409 as Robbery.

 The maximum penalty for stealing is five years imprisonment.

However there are certain circumstances, which if relevant will increase the maximum sentence. Examples of a few of these that increase the maximum sentence to 10 years imprisonment are:

  • Stealing by clerks and servants
  • Stealing by directors or officers in companies
  • Stealing property worth more than $5000
  • Stealing after a previous conviction

An example of stealing by clerks or servants can be found where an employee steals from their employer.  An example of this offence was found in R v La Rosaex parte A-G (Qld) [2006] QCA 19, where the respondent stole $51,214.10 from her employer.


Robbery is the use or threatened use of violence to facilitate stealing. Robbery is defined in s409 of the Criminal Code as any person who steals anything, and, at or immediately before or after the time of stealing uses or threatens to use actual violence to the person or property in order to obtain the thing being stolen or to prevent or overcome resistance to its being stolen.

The maximum sentence for robbery is 14 years. However this will be extended to a maximum of life imprisonment if the offender is or pretends to be armed with any dangerous or offensive weapon, or is in the company of more than one person, or if at or immediately before or after the robbery the offender wounds or uses any personal violence to any  person.

An example of robbery can be found in R v Kolodziej [2008] QCA 184, where the appellant threatened a taxi driver for the retrieval of a $30 fare.

Office Location and Contact Details


Aitken Whyte Lawyers Brisbane
2/414 Upper Roma Street
Brisbane QLD 4000

Ph: 07 3229 4459
Fax: +617 3211 9311