What are the details of the offence of handling stolen goods and will I face prosecution?
The offence of handling stolen goods is a criminal offence, meaning that if found guilty of the offence you will be prosecuted in a criminal court. The offence is established by the Theft Act 1968.
What is meant by the term stolen goods?
Definition of goods
Section 34 of the Theft Act 1968 states that the definition of goods includes money and every other description of property, excluding land. This does, however, include objects which have been severed from the land by stealing.
Definition of stolen goods
Stolen goods under Section 24 of the Theft Act 1968 is taken to mean any goods which have been stolen – contrary to Section 1 of the Theft Act – or obtained by deception – contrary to Section 15 of the Theft Act – or obtained by blackmail – contrary to Section 21 of the Theft Act.
What is the position in relation to goods stolen in a foreign country?
Goods which have been stolen in a foreign country, which includes goods stolen in Scotland or Northern Ireland, are stolen goods if they have been obtained or appropriated in such a way that would satisfy the above offences under the Theft Act and that the stealing was criminal under the law of the foreign country in question.
If goods stolen in this manner from a foreign country are then handled in England and Wales the offence of handling stolen goods under the Theft Act will have occurred.
Stolen at the time of handling
In order for the offence of handling stolen goods under the Theft Act to occur the goods must remain stolen at the time of handling.
Accordingly Section 24 of the Theft Act states that no good which have been stolen will be regarded as continuing to be stolen after one of the following events has occurred:
- Once they have been restored t the person from whom they were stolen
- Once they have been restored to another form of lawful custody or possession
- Once the person from whom they were stolen and any other person claiming through that person have otherwise ceased as regards those goods to have any right to restitution in respect of the theft
Proceeds of dealings with such goods
Under Section 24 of the Theft Act references to stolen goods also include the proceeds of dealings with such goods by the original thief or the handler.
What is meant by the term Handling?
Section 22 of the Theft Act provides a full definition of the term handling. This definition can be broken down as follows:
- Arranging to receive
- Undertaking the retention, removal, disposal or realisation of stolen goods for the benefit of another
- Assisting in the retention, removal, disposal or realisation of stolen goods for the benefit of another
- Arranging to undertake or assist in the retention, removal, disposal or realisation of stolen goods for the benefit of another
For more information on:
- Otherwise in the Course of Stealing
- Must I have knowledge that the goods were stolen in order to be convicted of the offence?
- Am I likely to face prosecution?