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.
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.