In the context of the theft of your cat, there are three different types of stealing: plain stealing i.e. theft, robbery and burglary. What’s the difference between them? It’s quite useful to know because there’s lots of thievery occurring in Great Britain today not infrequently of dogs and cats.
Stealing/theft: in essence, this is when one person dishonestly appropriates (takes) the property of another person with the intention to deprive that person of their property permanently. Under the law cats are ‘property’. So, if your cat is outside because they are indoor/outdoor cat and a person dishonestly takes your cat and then sells them to somebody else and you never see your cat again, that person is guilty of theft. There are many videos of people stealing cats from the porches of the homes where the cat lives. Sometimes it might be a delivery driver.
I recently wrote about a couple of women who stole a cat from the front yard of a Ragdoll cat owner. The Ragdoll was 15 years of age and they brought the cat back! That, in my opinion, would still be theft because they initially had the intention of depriving the owner of the Ragdoll cat permanently. They changed their mind. That doesn’t eradicate the crime in my view. They could still be arrested and charged with theft but nowadays the police aren’t really interested in the theft of something which is of relatively little value. Although Ragdolls are expensive when they are purchased from a breeder. A 15-year-old, ‘second-hand’, Ragdoll wouldn’t be worth that much in purely commercial terms which is how thieves operate.
Robbery: in basic terms this is stealing with threats of violence or force. It’s more serious than plain theft. In the UK it is described as stealing but immediately before or at the time of stealing and in order to effect the theft, the perpetrator uses force or seeks to make the victim under the effects of force to hand over the object that is being stolen. In terms of cats, this would occur if a person was walking their cat on a lead outside or was carrying their cat outside to their car and the robber came along and threatened the cat owner with violence, forcing the cat owner to hand over their cat.
Burglary: in essence, this is theft after the thief has broken into someone’s property. It’s a combination of theft and trespass. It occurs when a trespasser enters a building with the intention to steal, inflict grievous bodily harm or do damage to the property. Or having entered the property the trespasser steals or attempts to steal or inflict grievous bodily harm. In terms of cats, this could occur if a burglar broke open a window and entered the cat owner’s property and then took the cat away, never to be seen again. There are different levels of punishment depending on the aggravated nature of the burglary and the type property (business or domestic) which is being burgled.
Aggravated burglary: this is a refinement on the above when the burglar has with him any firearm or imitation firearm or any weapon of offence or any explosive. And where the weapon is used to attack somebody within the property in the course of the burglary. The maximum sentence in the UK for aggravated burglary is life imprisonment. This kind of burglary is unlikely to happen on the occasion that a burglar is stealing a cat. But it might if the owner defends their cat and the burglar becomes violent. It might occur when a former partner comes back to their former home and breaks into the home and harms their former partner’s cat in order to emotionally damage the cat’s owner. That might happen if a couple have split up and the man wants to emotionally harm the woman.
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