If something is legally considered your property and someone knowingly took it without your consent with the intent to return it, say a week or a month later, is this considered theft?

  • Colorado's theft statute: advance.lexis.com/documentpage/… Aug 7, 2021 at 0:44
  • Paywall. Free version: codes.findlaw.com/co/title-18-criminal-code/…. Also note that this does not apply to motor vehicles, which lack the "permanent deprivation" element.
    – user6726
    Aug 7, 2021 at 1:11
  • Good question. I think the answer is that it is still a crime, but the analysis is not straightforward given the way that Colorado's statute is worded. I've researched the question a couple of times and not found a case as clearly on point as I would like.
    – ohwilleke
    Aug 9, 2021 at 22:02

1 Answer 1


While this varies by state in the US, common-law theft involves an intention to permanently deprive the owner of the property. This is followed in the laws of many states.

However, as a practical matter, one who takes property without permission and when caught claims an intent to return it later may have a problem getting that claim believed.

Taking property without permission, only to return it later, will in many cases be a crime, even if not theft. The exact crime will vary with the state, the kind and value of the property, and other detailed factual circumstances. But it will not usually be without consequence.

  • What if it was stated at the time of taking Aug 7, 2021 at 0:52
  • 1
    @conspecuous Stated to who and by who? and if the taker says it, why should the taker, who is some sort of criminal, be believed then? Please edit to add this to the question. Aug 7, 2021 at 0:57
  • Perhaps a more believable practical case: they are caught when returning the property. Aug 7, 2021 at 20:45

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