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What is Qualified Theft?

Qualified theft is a more severe form of theft, often involving breach of trust, large amounts of stolen property, or theft from one's employer. It carries heavier penalties due to the violation's gravity. Understanding its legal implications can protect both personal and professional interests. How might recognizing qualified theft impact your security measures? Continue reading to explore its significance in safeguarding assets.
Ken Black
Ken Black

Qualified theft is a type of theft that is usually considered a more serious theft, and therefore warrants sentencing enhancements over other types of theft. In the criminal world, not all types of theft are created equal. Certain degrees of theft are determined by the value of the items stolen and other circumstances.

In the United States, some states have a qualified theft term and others simply refer to degrees of theft. Essentially, the violations covered under the definitions are very similar. Only the terminology is different. These degrees usually vary in their level of severity, though it is possible that penalties may remain the same, depending on the circumstance. In such cases, the degree of theft is simply a matter of definition, not severity.

Stealing an expensive item, such as a motor vehicle, is considered qualified theft in some jurisdictions.
Stealing an expensive item, such as a motor vehicle, is considered qualified theft in some jurisdictions.

For example, in some states, if a person is in a position of trust, such as being a bank teller, and steals, this could fall under enhanced penalties of a qualified theft. In some cases, it may be up to a judge or jury to determine what a position of trust is. This law is in place to further discourage those who have more opportunities to commit theft from doing so. Otherwise, traditional penalties may not offer enough of a deterrent to keep theft from taking place.

Some other countries, such as the Netherlands, do not have a code statute specifically for crimes such as burglary. Instead, this is referred to as qualified theft. This involves entering onto property on which a person has no right to be in order to commit a theft. This is somewhat different than burglary in the United States, which is entering onto property on which a person has no right to be in order to commit a crime of any sort.

The Philippines has yet another example of what some countries may consider qualified theft. Part of that country's statutes actually carries enhancements if a theft occurs in a certain place. In one case, the statute even states that coconuts stolen from a coconut plantation would meet the definition of qualified theft.

Penalties for this crime vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. In some cases, the penalties can be significant. For example simple theft may carry no more than a fine and probation. However, any theft conviction can often result in years of prison time.

Frequently Asked Questions

What distinguishes qualified theft from simple theft?

Qualified theft is a form of theft that is aggravated by certain circumstances, such as the violation of trust, abuse of confidence, or theft of large amounts of property. It often involves a relationship between the victim and the offender, like an employee stealing from an employer. Simple theft, on the other hand, does not involve these aggravating conditions and is generally considered a less severe offense.

What are the legal consequences of committing qualified theft?

The legal consequences of qualified theft can be severe and typically include longer prison sentences and larger fines compared to simple theft. The exact penalties vary depending on the jurisdiction and the value of the property stolen. For instance, under Philippine law, the penalty for qualified theft can be twice as severe as that for simple theft, reflecting the gravity of the offense.

Can qualified theft be committed by someone outside of an organization?

While qualified theft often involves someone within an organization or with a fiduciary relationship to the victim, it can also be committed by outsiders if they employ methods that exploit trust or confidence, such as a contractor who is entrusted with property and then decides to steal it. The key element is the abuse of trust or confidence, regardless of the perpetrator's relationship to the victim.

How is the value of the stolen property calculated in cases of qualified theft?

The value of the stolen property in cases of qualified theft is typically determined by its current market value or replacement cost at the time of the theft. This valuation is crucial as it can influence the severity of the penalties imposed. Courts will consider evidence such as receipts, appraisals, or expert testimony to establish the property's worth accurately.

What should a victim of qualified theft do to ensure justice is served?

A victim of qualified theft should immediately report the crime to the authorities and provide all necessary documentation, such as inventory records, surveillance footage, and any other evidence of the theft and the perpetrator's identity. It's also advisable to seek legal counsel to navigate the complexities of the legal process and to ensure that the case is presented effectively in court.

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Discussion Comments


I moved to Central Africa and found a funny term in my insurance policy: "Unqualified Theft under Burglary" policy. Does anybody know what this is all about?


@anon270009: I don't know how Philippine law works, but here in the U.S., personal debt issues are usually separate from housing issues when it comes to possible evictions. The agreement you have with a landlord only extends to the conditions related to housing.

If you pay your rent for the month of October, for example, you have every right to live in that space for the entire 31 days. If you failed to pay on a credit card bill due on October 10, the credit card company can make efforts to collect on that debt. But the credit card company and the landlord can't get together and threaten you with eviction if you don't pay on the credit card debt. You might have difficulty renting another apartment in the future because of bad credit, but currently you have two different financial obligations to two different entities.

If you have to pay all of your income to the credit card company and have nothing left for rent, however, then your landlord can initiate eviction proceedings several months later. The credit card company itself can't do it, or force your landlord to do it.


What if you have unpaid bills on a credit card amounting to 5,000.00 pesos philippine currency and now it is 26k due to the interest they are charging? Have people been evicted because of this?


Last week, I moved into another place to rent. I wasn't telling my former landlord I'm getting my things out one by one, because I know how they are. The things I took out were really mine and I have receipts for them.

When they found out that I was about to move, they blocked the front door and told me that I will not get my things without proper authority.

They are claiming when I first moved in and rented their place, they loaned me two air-conditioners, four televisions, two refs, and tables and chairs, but actually, I didn't receive them. or anything signed that they did lend these things to me. I really don't use it or anything. I rented their place for seven years without any contract. I've been asking them for a contract for years but they refused to give me one. Today, I was sent a notice of confrontation. I am being charged with qualified theft, but the complainant wasn't the former landlord but one of their employees. I don't know how to face them on monday. I'm afraid that my ignorance of the law might be used against me.


We had organized savings fund in our office. We contributed a certain desired amount monthly where we can only get every end of the year. Members can also avail of the loan at a minimal interest where 50 percent goes to personal and 50 percent goes to general patronage to be divided by all members. Our office mate was the one holding all the recording and the treasury.

We trusted everything to her in good faith. However at the end of the year she did not make her computation that's why one member compute on her behalf. It turned out that only contribution and personal interest were given because we have insufficient. The treasurer agreed to pay on the next year January, however when we ask for it, she made so many excuses that she will not pay because we have wrong computation. We requested her to make her own but three months passed already until now she did not make her own.

What shall we do to demand her to pay? What are we going to do if she will not really pay for it. Can we file lawsuit to this effect? -- desperate


a friend of mine has a case of qualified theft and now he is already in saudi. Will my friend be deported if they are willing to do a deportation paper?


I went to a prestigious bank to make a deposit. i asked the bank service associate if she could help me. i told her i needed to make a deposit. i want my one thousand us dollars to be exchanged into pesos and deposit all of it in my checking account. because of several transactions, i left the bank without a deposit slip. On the online banking 12 days after I made the deposit was when i noticed the deposit was not credited to my account.

I called the bank and spoke with a male bank senior service associate, and asked him to check the record. I told him i gave my money to bank service associate "L" for deposit. He called and said no record was found. He said there was one thing that that would help clear the matter up: they have a cctv recording. He said he would call me back.

He called and said enthusiastically, "Ma'am we would like to invite you to view the recording with us, will call when our technician gets here." The next call was, "Sorry ma'am, our technician is still not here," followed by another call with the technician not being there. The next call was, "Sorry ma'am, our cctv recording was erased already but we have a copy in the main branch. it may just take a while before our tech gets here. we will call you."

The next call was from the manager i spoke with and i was told that the company they've hired has failed to do the recording because of recent power outages. A letter was written to the bank president and the bank lawyer replied, claiming they have done a diligent investigation and insinuated that I lost my own money somewhere else. Do i have any legal recourse?


A bank employee had transferred a big amount of my money from my savings account to her own account without my signature in the debit/credit transaction ticket, or without my consent. i just knew that the transaction was made two and a half months ago when i updated my bank book just this month.

Could this be grounds for her termination? Is it possible that i could get my money back? Who else could be involved in this matter? There are four other signatories in the debit/credit transaction ticket. Can i involve them in the case?

Please answer me asap. Thank you so much.


what if you had an agreement with the company that you have stolen from that you will pay a certain amount?

is it possible for the company to change their mind to change the value of the amount for the said agreement? for example, they said to pay 500,000 and then later on they want to make it to a million.

thanks for answering this.

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    • Stealing an expensive item, such as a motor vehicle, is considered qualified theft in some jurisdictions.
      By: Ljupco Smokovski
      Stealing an expensive item, such as a motor vehicle, is considered qualified theft in some jurisdictions.