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Stealing Offences

In Queensland, stealing falls under the category of property offences in part 6 of the Criminal Code Act 1899. Other property offences include obtaining goods by deception, receiving stolen goods, and burglary. Minor property offences such as shoplifting goods worth under $150, and leaving a hotel or restaurant without paying the bill, are dealt with in the Regulatory Offences Act 1985. Stealing offences can result in fines, community service orders, probation, suspended sentences and terms of imprisonment. The type of penalty an offender receives will depend on the offence, and whether there were circumstances of aggravation or mitigation.


Shoplifting offences include more than just taking an item from a shop without paying. Shoplifting also includes eating or drinking something in a café or restaurant and leaving without paying, swapping or altering price tags, or leaving a hotel without paying. 

If the item stolen is worth under $150, a shoplifting charge will normally be dealt with by way of a fine. However, if the goods removed have a total value of over $150, the offender may be charged with stealing rather than shoplifting. Offences relating to leaving a hotel, or restaurant without paying may result in a charge of fraud if the value of the goods or services used amounts to more than $150. 


Stealing is defined as taking property belonging to someone else, without their consent, and keeping it permanently. In Queensland, stealing may be comprised over shoplifting when the value of the item is greater than $150.

The penalty for stealing varies greatly depending on what is stolen, and the offender’s criminal history. A stealing charge can incur a term of imprisonment for up to five years. However, if the offender uses violence or threatens violence, if item is stolen from a public office, or if the item is stolen from a dwelling and exceeds $1000, or the item is taken from a locked room or box that had to be opened then the penalty increases to a maximum jail term of 10 years. If a firearm is stolen by a person who intends to use it to commit an indictable offence, then the maximum penalty is 14 years imprisonment.

Receiving Stolen Property

It is an offence in Queensland to receive stolen property or property which is tainted. Property is tainted if it has been obtained by way of an act constituting an indictable offence. If a person knowingly receives stolen property, and they have reason to believe it has been stolen, then they have committed an offence. 

The maximum penalty for this offence ranges from 7 years imprisonment to 14 years imprisonment depending on the property received and how it was received. If the property was obtained by committing the crime or the property was a firearm, or ammunition, then a maximum penalty of 14 years applies. 

The penalties for these offences are high as a deterrent for people considering buying stolen property, and to limit the supply, and demand, of stolen goods.


Fraud is stealing that involves dishonestly obtaining goods, money, services, or property. This may be by obtaining property that belongs to someone else, applying someone else’s property to your own use, gaining a benefit or advantage, or inducing or causing someone to deliver property to another person. An example of fraud would be claiming benefits from Centrelink to which you are not entitled or leaving a restaurant without paying for goods worth more than $150. Penalties for fraud offences vary depending on the severity of the offence but can result in five years imprisonment. 


The offence of burglary occurs when a person enters someone’s premises with the intent to commit an indictable offence. The definition of premises for the purposes of this offence is a building, structure, dwelling, tent, caravan, vehicle, or similar place. There are three different burglary offences in Queensland relating to three different situations. 

If a person enters premises with the intent to commit an indictable offence the maximum penalty is 10 years imprisonment. If a person enters premises and does, in fact, commit an indictable offence then the maximum penalty is 14 years imprisonment. If the offender gains entry to the premises by breaking, and commits an indictable offence, then they are liable to a maximum penalty of imprisonment for life.

If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.

Michelle Makela

This article was written by Michelle Makela

Michelle has over 15 years experience in the legal industry, working across commercial litigation, criminal law, family law and estate planning.  Michelle has been involved in all practice areas of the firm and in her personal practice has had experience in litigation at all levels (State and Federal Industrial Tribunals, the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, the Federal Court, Federal...

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