What Are the Consequences of Stealing?

Stealing has legal, social and personal consequences. Depending on the amount stolen and the means of committing the theft, legal punishments range from restitution and court-ordered counseling to imprisonment. Theft also causes loss of trust between members of society and increased prices to make up for the losses merchants suffer.

The law considers stealing to be more serious when the amounts are large or when the theft is committed in the course of a personal confrontation with the victim. Penalties are more severe if a firearm or other deadly weapon is used or if the victim is physically harmed during the commission of the theft. Perpetrators with previous criminal records usually receive heavier sentences, but even first-time offenders suffer from the consequences of acquiring a criminal record.

Stealing from merchants costs the average family $300 per year according to Online Lawyer Source. This cost reflects both the loss of goods and the increased security measures merchants install to combat theft, which must be made up by higher costs to maintain the same profit level.

Individual victims of theft suffer the loss of their money or goods and must bear the cost of replacement unless they recover the stolen property. Some victims experience increased stress or even develop mental health issues as a result of the experience.