What evidence is required to convict of theft

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This topic contains 6 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by Dr. Ashok Dhamija Dr. Ashok Dhamija 3 days, 1 hour ago.

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  • #3160


    I went to store to purchase some item.Some stranger was standing next to me at store. Next day when I went to the same store that random stranger is blaming me for pickpocketing his mobile saying I was the only one standing next to him. He doesn�t have any direct evidence nor any eyewitness. My question is what all evidence will be required in absence of direct evidence to prove theft beyond reasonable doubt and to get me convicted. Please list all the evidence required by him to prove theft.

  • #3163

    Definition of “theft” is given in Section 378 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). While the full section is reproduced at the end of this reply, the main definition says that: “Whoever, intending to take dishonestly any movable property out of the possession of any person without that person’s consent, moves that property in order to such taking, is said to commit theft”.

    So, main ingredients that are required to prove a theft case are:

    • Dishonest intention
    • To take movable property (in this case mobile phone)
    • Out of possession of other person
    • Without consent of such person
    • Moving of such property (out of possession of such person).

    While it is not possible for me to comment on the facts of a case, without knowing the full facts, generally speaking someone will have to state that he has seen you removing the mobile phone from the pocket, and/or at least the phone should have been recovered from you or evidence shown that you have used the phone after being stolen. Merely because you were standing near him may not be sufficient if no person has actually seen (or, may be in CCTV of the shop) you removing the phone from the pocket and if the phone is not recovered from you or if there is no evidence to show that you have used the phone after it was stolen (may be, from the call records). Consult some local lawyer if a formal FIR is already registered against you, and discuss the full facts with him (including the allegations made in FIR).

    Section 378 of IPC, in full, is reproduced below:

    378. Theft.—Whoever, intending to take dishonestly any movable property out of the possession of any person without that person’s consent, moves that property in order to such taking, is said to commit theft.

    Explanation 1.—A thing so long as it is attached to the earth, not being movable property, is not the subject of theft; but it becomes capable of being the subject of theft as soon as it is severed from the earth.

    Explanation 2.—A moving effected by the same act which effects the severance may be a theft.

    Explanation 3.—A person is said to cause a thing to move by removing an obstacle which prevented it from moving or by separating it from any other thing, as well as by actually moving it.

    Explanation 4.—A person, who by any means causes an animal to move, is said to move that animal, and to move everything which, in consequence of the motion so caused, is moved by that animal.

    Explanation 5.—The consent mentioned in the definition may be express or implied, and may be given either by the person in possession, or by any person having for that purpose authority either express or implied.


    (a) A cuts down a tree on Z’s ground, with the intention of dishonestly taking the tree out of Z’s possession without Z’s consent. Here, as soon as A has severed the tree in order to such taking, he has committed theft.

    (b) A puts a bait for dogs in his pocket, and thus induces Z’s dog to follow it. Here, if A’s intention be dishonestly to take the dog out of Z’s possession without Z’s consent, A has committed theft as soon as Z’s dog has begun to follow A.

    (c) A meets a bullock carrying a box of treasure. He drives the bullock in a certain direction, in order that he may dishonestly take the treasure. As soon as the bullock begins to move, A has committed theft of the treasure.

    (d) A being Z’s servant, and entrusted by Z with the care of Z’s plate, dishonestly runs away with the plate, without Z’s consent. A has committed theft.

    (e) Z, going on a journey, entrusts his plate to A, the keeper of a warehouse, till Z shall return. A carries the plate to a goldsmith and sells it. Here the plate was not in Z’s possession. It could not therefore be taken out of Z’s possession, and A has not committed theft, though he may have committed criminal breach of trust.

    (f) A finds a ring belonging to Z on a table in the house which Z occupies. Here the ring is in Z’s possession, and if A dishonestly removes it, A commits theft.

    (g) A finds a ring lying on the high road, not in the possession of any person. A, by taking it, commits no theft, though he may commit criminal misappropriation of property.

    (h) A sees a ring belonging to Z lying on a table in Z’s house. Not venturing to misappropriate the ring immediately for fear of search and detection, A hides the ring in a place where it is highly improbable that it will ever be found by Z, with the intention of taking the ring from the hiding place and selling it when the loss is forgotten. Here A, at the time of first moving the ring, commits theft.

    (i) A delivers his watch to Z, a jeweller, to be regulated. Z carries it to his shop. A, not owing to the jeweller any debt for which the jeweller might lawfully detain the watch as a security, enters the shop openly, takes his watch by force out of Z’s hand, and carries it away. Here A, though he may have committed criminal trespass and assault, has not committed theft, inasmuch as what he did was not done dishonestly.

    (j) If A owes money to Z for repairing the watch, and if Z retains the watch lawfully as a security for the debt, and A takes the watch out of Z’s possession, with the intention of depriving Z of the property as a security for his debt, he commits theft, inasmuch as he takes it dishonestly.

    (k) Again, if A, having pawned his watch to Z, takes it out of Z’s possession without Z’s consent, not having paid what he borrowed on the watch, he commits theft, though the watch is his own property inasmuch as he takes it dishonestly.

    (l) A takes an article belonging to Z out of Z’s possession without Z’s consent, with the intention of keeping it until he obtains money from Z as a reward for its restoration. Here A takes dishonestly; A has therefore committed theft.

    (m) A, being on friendly terms with Z, goes into Z’s library in Z’s absence, and takes away a book without Z’s express consent for the purpose merely of reading it, and with the intention of returning it. Here, it is probable that A may have conceived that he had Z’s implied consent to use Z’s book. If this was A’s impression, A has not committed theft.

    (n) A asks charity from Z’s wife. She gives A money, food and clothes, which A knows to belong to Z, her husband. Here it is probable that A may conceive that Z’s wife is authorized to give away alms. If this was A’s impression, A has not committed theft.

    (o) A is the paramour of Z’s wife. She gives a valuable property, which A knows to belong to her husband Z, and to be such property as she has no authority from Z to give. If A takes the property dishonestly, he commits theft.

    (p) A, in good faith, believing property belonging to Z to be A’s own property, takes that property out of B’s possession. Here, as A does not take dishonestly, he does not commit theft.”


  • #3167


    Thank you for your answer. What more facts do you want to clearly answer the question. I have stated all the facts in the question.

    • #3170

      You do not have to tell the facts to me on this forum. You may have to tell the facts (such as the detailed facts mentioned in FIR or other allegations and other details) to your local lawyer. On this forum, we do not reply to facts of a case; we reply to the questions of law.

  • #3171


    Sir one last question. He’s saying that his wallet was there and when I left it was missing. This will be enough or not to convict.

  • #3172


    A yes and no answer will work. Thankyou

  • #3176

    This single fact, by itself, may not be sufficient to prove the case.

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