1. For the accused couple to be found guilty of theft, the following elements needed to be established by the prosecution:
- the object of the alleged theft was property belonging to another person – the money belonged to a couple who had donated the suitcase to the Salvation Army store.
- the accused appropriated that property – the two accused assumed a right to the money by keeping it/ dealing with it as an owner.
- the accused appropriated the property with the intention to permanently deprive the other person of the property – the two accused put the money into different bankaccounts.
- the accused appropriated the property dishonestly – the accused were not entitled to keep the money (they did not have the owner’s consent to keep the money).
2. The prosecution would be able to establish that the couple had committed theft as they dishonestly appropriated property that belonged to another couple with the intention of permanently depriving those businesses of the property.
3. As a defence,the couplemight have claimed that theyhad no intention of permanently depriving the owner of it – they were planning to return the money eventually. Alternatively, the couplemight have claimed that they did not act dishonestly or that they had made an honest mistake in taking the property.
4. Responses will vary. Students are likely to conclude that the coupleshould have been found guilty of theft. For example, students might point out that theywere tracked down by the police using EFTPOS records – they bought the suitcase so may have discovered the money. They were also discovered to have deposited the money into various bank accounts. In other words, they werecaught dishonestly appropriated property that belonged to theother couple with the intention of permanently depriving thecouple of that property.
5. Responses will vary. Students might point out, for example, that the victims of the theft suffered a loss of their property. It is likely that the couple would have needed to spend time dealing with police. The offenders would have faced the prospect of being sentenced toimprisonment – this would have an effect on their family as well as, potentially, their freedom.
6. Responses will vary. Students might point out, for example, that the costs associated with assistance to victims, security and insurance as well as the identification, investigation, prosecution and prevention of theft have an economic impact. The perception that there is crime in the community can increase, resulting in a feeling across society that individuals and households are not safe. People can become anxious or fearful, particularly if they believe that they could become victims of theft. The prevalence of crimes such as theft may encourage others to commit crime.