Theft/Stealing Adelaide Hills


Theft/Stealing – Section 134 Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935 (SA)

Theft/Stealing: In South Australia, to be found guilty of the offence of theft you must deal with property dishonestly and without the consent of the owner, and with the intention to permanently deprive the owner of the property or to seriously encroachment on his or her proprietary interests.

It is also an offence to receive stolen property from another person.

Conduct will be dishonest if you act dishonestly according to the standards of ordinary people. You must also know that the conduct is dishonest according to those standards. Conduct will not be dishonest if you honestly but mistakenly believed that you had a right to deal with the property the way you did or if you found the property and believed that the owner could not be found.

Encroachment on proprietary rights means:

1. that the property is dealt with in a way that creates a substantial risk that it will not be returned; or

2. that the value of the property will be greatly diminished when the owner gets it back; or

3. where property is treated as the accused own to dispose of, disregarding the actual property owner’s rights.

Proving the charge:

1. you dealt with property;

2. the property was owned by another;

3. you did not have the owners consent to deal with the property;

4. you intended to deprive or seriously encroach on proprietary rights;

5. you dealt with the property dishonestly.

Available defences:

1. Claim of Right (Conduct)

Your conduct is not dishonest, if you have acted on an honest but mistaken belief that you had a right to act in that way.

2. Claim of Right (Property)

An assertion of a right to property is not dishonest if you honestly believed that you had such a right.

3. Finders Exemption

You will not be acting dishonestly if you find and deal with property in the belief that the owner cannot be found by taking reasonable steps to find the owner such as reporting to the Police posting on FB and the like and there is no obligation to return or give up the property.

4. Honest Acquisition

If you acquired property in the honest (but mistaken) belief that you acquired good title, you cannot be guilty of theft.


For a basic offence – a maximum of 10 years imprisonment.

For an aggravated offence – 15 years imprisonment.