Theft is the illegal taking of another person's property without that person's permission or consent. The word is also used as an informal shorthand term for some crimes against property, such as burglary, embezzlement, larceny, looting, robbery, shoplifting and fraud. In some jurisdictions, theft is considered to be synonymous with larceny; in others, theft has replaced larceny. Someone who carries out an act of or makes a career of theft is known as a thief. The act of theft is known by terms such as stealing, thieving, and filching.
- To live
On means not yours—be brave in silks and laces,
Gallant in steeds; splendid in banquets; all
Not yours. Given, uninherited, unpaid for;
This is to be a trickster; and to filch
Men's art and labour, which to them is wealth,
Life, daily bread;—quitting all scores with "friend,
Why this, forgive me,
Is what, when done with a less dainty grace,
Plain folks call "Theft."
- Edward Bulwer-Lytton, Richelieu (1839), Act I, scene 2.
- No Indian prince has to his palace
More followers than a thief to the gallows.
- Samuel Butler, Hudibras, Part II (1664), Canto I, line 273.
- Kill a man's family, and he may brook it,
But keep your hands out of his breeches' pocket.
- Thieves respect property; they merely wish the property to become their property that they may more perfectly respect it.
- G. K. Chesterton, as quoted in The Man Who Was Thursday (1908).
- Stolen sweets are best.
- Colley Cibber, The Rival Fools (1709), Act I.
- There is a passion for hunting something deeply implanted in the human breast.
- Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist, (1838), Chapter 10; referring to chasing pickpockets on the streets of London.
- All stealing is comparative. If you come to absolutes, pray who does not steal?
- Ralph Waldo Emerson, Essays, Second Series (1844), ‘Experience’.
- The Friar preached against stealing, and had a goose in his sleeve.
- George Herbert, Jacula Prudentum (1651).
- If something is stolen from you, don't go to the police. They're not interested. Don't go to a psychologist either, because he's interested in only one thing: that it was really you who did the stealing.
- Karl Kraus (1874-1936), Half-Truths and One-and-a-Half Truths (1990). Translated by Harry Zohn.
- Thou hast stolen both mine office and my name;
The one ne'er got me credit, the other mickle blame.
- A cutpurse of the empire and the rule,
That from a shelf the precious diadem stole,
And put it in his pocket!
- A plague upon it when thieves cannot be true one to another!
- Let me tell you, Cassius, you yourself
Are much condemn'd to have an itching palm.
- The robb'd that smiles steals something from the thief:
He robs himself that spends a bootless grief.
- He that is robb'd, not wanting what is stol'n,
Let him not know't, and he's not robb'd at all.
- In limited professions there's boundless theft.
- The sun's a thief, and with his great attraction
Robs the vast sea; the moon's an arrant thief,
And her pale fire she snatches from the sun:
The sea's a thief, whose liquid surge resolves
The moon into salt tears: the earth's a thief,
That feeds and breeds by a composture stolen
From general excrement: each thing's a thief;
The laws, your curb and whip, in their rough power
Have uncheck'd theft.
Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations
- Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 786-87.
- Who steals a bugle-horn, a ring, a steed,
Or such like worthless thing, has some discretion;
'Tis petty larceny: not such his deed
Who robs us of our fame, our best possession.
- Francesco Berni, Orlando Innamorato, Canto LV.
- To keep my hands from picking and stealing.
- Book of Common Prayer, Catechism.
- 'Tis bad enough in man or woman
To steal a goose from off a common;
But surely he's without excuse
Who steals a common from the goose.
- Epigram in Carey's Commonplace Book of Epigrams (1872). Different versions of the same were prompted by the Enclosure Acts. One version given in Sabrinæ Corolla was written when Charles Pratt, first Earl of Camden, took a common strip of land in front of Camden House. Oct. 7, 1764.
- In vain we call old notions fudge
And bend our conscience to our dealing.
The Ten Commandments will not budge
And stealing will continue stealing.
- Motto of American Copyright League (written Nov. 20, 1885).
- Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.
- Proverbs, IX. 17.
- Stolen sweets are always sweeter:
Stolen kisses much completer;
Stolen looks are nice in chapels:
Stolen, stolen be your apples.
- Thomas Randolph, Song of Fairies.
- Well, well, be it so, thou strongest thief of all,
For thou hast stolen my will, and made it thine.
- Alfred Tennyson, The Foresters, Act III, scene 1.