Theft involves obtaining someone else's property with the intention of depriving the other person permanently from such movable property without their consent. Stealing money, accepting stolen goods or property or obtaining goods by masquerade. Legal Consultants of Dubai often suggest clients consider important points highlighted in this article in the case of theft.

Federal Law Number 3 of 1987 regarding the UAE Penal Code exclusively provides punishment for theft committed within the country. Generally, theft is perpetrated on movable property having a monetary value belonging to another. Whereas, the Federal Law Number 5 of 1985 on Commercial Transactions defines property as something that can be taken under custody. Larceny, shoplifting, burglary and embezzlement of funds are some common crimes falling under the criteria of theft.

Types of Theft

In accordance with the UAE Penal Code, there are two categories of theft naming, aggravated theft and simple theft. Wherein, the former includes the involvement of arms and results in felony leading to life imprisonment whereas, the outcome of the latter is misdemeanour resulting in 6 months jail and/or fine. Articles 381-398 of the Penal Code entails the punishments imposed on crimes involving theft.

The criminal jurisprudence focuses on two main elements as perquisites in ascertaining the depth of any criminal action including theft which involves "mens rea (mental intent)" and "actus reus (criminal act)". Similarly, involuntary possession of movable property is another important element in cases of theft.

Simple theft

Cases of simple theft involve where the accused perpetrate the theft under the following circumstances and is liable for imprisonment for a minimum period of 1 year:

  1. In the place of worship;
  2. If committed by in the habitual place of living;
  3. If committed by breaking in;
  4. If committed in any means of transport;
  5. On any injured war survivor;
  6. On any person carrying the cattle.

In any event, a simple theft would be where the accused misappropriates a telephone service, any source of telecommunication, any government services, or diverges or empty any of these services or any electric current used to transmit such service shall be sentenced to imprisonment and/or fine. Similarly, driving or riding anyone�s car or scooter without permission shall be termed as simple theft and would invite imprisonment of minimum one year and a fine of not more than AED 10,000.

Force, coercion and threat used to sign a deed or enter into an agreement or cancellation thereof shall attract term imprisonment and is considered as simple theft.

Aggravated Theft

Circumstances leading to aggravated theft shall entail:

  1. Any theft involving usage of weapons shall be considered as aggravated theft, wherein, if such weapon is used to injure the victim, the accused may be imprisoned for a term not exceeding 15 years.
  2. Any offences conducted under the following circumstances will attract life imprisonment:

    • Act committed in the night;
    • Two or more individuals are involved;
    • Involvement of arms;
    • The act involves a person living nearby, or who breaks into the place, or by personification as a public service agent, or by any other illicit means;
  3. Caused by using threat or any other means.
  4. Imprisonment between 2 to 7 years shall be imposed on someone who either commits the theft in the night or with the usage of a weapon. Whereas, the imprisonment will be between 5 to 7 years if the theft is committed by an employee during his employment.
  5. Any theft committed by threat, coercion and duress along with the weapons to obtain the property, to attain the possession or to run away with it.