Shoplifting and Theft

What is the difference?

Shoplifting is a form of theft, and there is little difference legally. Both offences are charged under Section 379 of the Penal Code, and are defined in Section 378 (below):

Whoever, intending to take dishonestly any movable property out of the possession of any person without that person’s consent, moves that property in order to such taking, is said to commit theft.

What are movable properties?

Things that can be stolen include petty theft such as the belongings of others to shop stock, but can also include live animals (that the perpetrator caused to move e.g. by making dogs follow someone with bait), and large heavy objects (e.g. that move after removing an obstacle in its way).

Finding an object on the ground, and not in the possession of another person, is not grounds for theft. You will not be charged for picking up abandoned objects from the street (e.g. finding a $50 note or a ring on the floor).

However you will be charged with theft for accepting a gift you know to be someone else’s property (e.g. being offered the personal possessions of a woman, as a gift from her husband who you know has not been authorized to take her things – accepting the gift is theft). For further information, please contact your Singapore criminal lawyer.


Shoplifters and thieves may face prison for up to 3 years, or a fine, or both.

Should you have any questions or need legal advice or representation, kindly contact our criminal lawyers at Gloria James-Civetta & Co on 6337-0469 for a free consultation, or email to