What crime can you get jailed for if a criminal leases you a stolen art piece? Let's say you loan an art piece for 1 day, and then you call the authorities because you know it was stolen, can you still get criminally prosecuted for it and for what crime?

  • 1
    Please specify the jurisdiction.
    – Vikki
    Jul 4, 2021 at 18:04

1 Answer 1


Although there's the potential for money laundering the more obvious offence is Handling Stolen Goods contrary to s.22 of the Theft Act 1968

(1) A person handles stolen goods if (otherwise than in the course of the stealing) knowing or believing them to be stolen goods he dishonestly receives the goods, or dishonestly undertakes or assists in their retention, removal, disposal or realisation by or for the benefit of another person, or if he arranges to do so.

(2) A person guilty of handling stolen goods shall on conviction on indictment be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years.

Note that any criminal liability will depend on one's mens rea (i. e. their guilty knowledge) when obtaining the stolen item.

That said - the authorities, after considering all the evidence and circumstances, may prefer to use the recipient as a witness against the person from whom they received the artwork instead of prosecuting them.

  • Note the key word "dishonestly". If someone sees something for sale they believe to be stolen, and purchases it for the purpose of giving it to the authorities and hoping that they will receive reimbursement from a grateful owner, I don't think that would be considered "dishonest" for purposes of the statute, but if the person could be shown to have known the goods were stolen when they were purchased, and is caught with them before notifying the authorities, it may be hard for the person to convince the authorities and/or a jury that his intentions were honest.
    – supercat
    Jul 4, 2021 at 19:24

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