For the past 6 months the police in cooperation with the L.C.B.0. has conducted an undercover operation in Vaughan using both plainclothes and uniform officers. The result is that 23 individuals have been charged theft after an investigation into 170 thefts from only 6 L.C.B.O. outlets in Vaughan. The total value of the thefts over a 6 month period is $60,000.00 – that is a lot of booze to slide out the door unpaid for. In addition, Toronto police are looking for a Toronto man who they believe has been stealing bottles of liquor from the L.C.B.O. since June 5, 2018, totaling a value in excess of $38,000.00.
With respect to the Vaughan operation, there were a total of 86 charges. In some instances, upon arrest, the individuals were found to have unlawful possession of weapons.
Theft is found in Part IX of the Criminal Code.
Offenses Against Rights of Property
The provisions that deal with the most common allegations of theft are found at sections 322 and 334.
- 322 provides the actual charge itself.
- 334 sets out the punishment.
In essence, there is a theft under $5000.00 charge and a theft over $5000.00 charge.
On a theft over $5000.00 the Crown can only proceed by indictment and if convicted the accused is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years.
On a charge of theft under $5000.00, the Crown can choose to proceed by way of indictment or by way of summary conviction. If the Crown chooses to proceed by Indictment the accused is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years. If the Crown proceeds by summary conviction, the accused is liable to imprisonment not exceeding 6 months.
Most cases of theft involve shoplifting. A first-time shoplifter is not likely to face a jail sentence at all. In many cases, the charges are diverted and withdrawn by the Crown after completion of the diversion program.
Theft from an employer is considered by the courts as very serious as it involves a breach of trust. In the same way, theft from a vulnerable person is also considered to be very serious by the Courts.
Obviously the more that is alleged to have been stolen no matter the context, the greater the potential punishment. Put simply, theft of a candy bar is not treated the same as theft of tractor-trailer full of goods.
Possession of property obtained by crime can be related to theft charges. Often times an accused is charged with both theft and possession of property obtained by crime. If the police do not have reasonable and probable grounds to prove the theft charge, the charge of possession of property obtained by crime (possession of stolen property) can be laid on its own.
Recent possession of a stolen property (the police find a person in possession of stolen property shortly after the theft has occurred) can be used as evidence to establish the actual theft itself.
In addition, with respect to the charge of possession of property obtained by crime the doctrine of willful blindness can apply. This simply means that if it is too good to be true, then it is too good to be true. For example, if you purchase $3000.00 watch for $100.00 the court is likely to find that you were willfully blind to the fact that the watch was stolen and you could be convicted.
Over our 38 years of criminal law defense work, we have defended most everything you can imagine when it comes to theft charges from millions of dollars of goods to the small shoplifting charges and everything in-between. When large amounts are at stake we have defended Mareva injunction applications where the alleged victim tries to tie up the assets of our client. In addition and closely related to theft charges we have defended innumerable fraud allegations; insurance frauds, bad cheques, mortgage fraud, credit card fraud, credit application fraud, medical benefit fraud, government assistance benefits fraud, to something as minor as a price tag switch or a dine and dash. Forgery, utter forged document and false pretense are also offenses that can arise in the context of a theft allegation.
Theft of 60,000.00 worth of booze from just 6 L.C.B.O outlets over a 6 month period is quite astonishing. However, shoplifting is a significant issue in all retail stores and it drives up the price of everything as the stores must accommodate for loss. Hopefully we will see a change in the future with respect to the amount of theft that is taking place. We all know that we dare not leave a phone, or a jacket unattended in fear of theft. Carjacking is prevalent (cars being entered at night). Just this week 2 private golf courses had lockers broken into with significant theft. Remember to lock the doors.