Criminal liability and punishment for pickpocketing

How does the law define the concept of “theft”?

Theft is theft committed without witnesses. Also theft is an action when:

  • the thief was noticed at the moment of committing the crime (was filmed by a video surveillance camera), but the thief himself is sure that his actions were invisible;
  • the victim saw, but did not understand, that things were being stolen from him (a child or a person with mental disorders);
  • a thief steals valuables from a relative or friend, confident that there will be no resistance to him.

The crime is complete when the thief has become the owner of someone else’s property and can now use it for his own personal purposes (sale, exchange for drugs or alcoholic beverages).

During the theft, no one notices the criminal, or she himself is convinced of it and does not suspect the presence of eyewitnesses.

How to protect yourself from pickpockets

The best way to protect yourself from street theft is to be alert. Pickpockets always choose a victim from among absent-minded or distracted people who do not pay due attention to their personal belongings.

The percentage of detection of pickpocketing is quite low, and the likelihood that the criminal will be caught and return your property and money is actually small. That is why the prevention of pickpocketing is so important, because it is much easier to prevent a crime. The easiest way to do this is to keep your property completely under control in public places.

In order not to be left without money and valuables, you should also know the basic techniques that pickpockets use to divert attention.

Ways to commit pickpocketing

Pickpockets commit thefts in a variety of ways. Sometimes these are professional “cutters” who deftly cut bags, briefcases and backpacks with a blade or a sharpened coin, taking advantage of our carelessness.

The so-called “tourists” always work in a group: while one distracts the victim’s attention, the other takes valuables out of the bag, often handing them over to a third party. This method is the most common because it complicates the search and capture of the criminal.

“Shirmachi” use foreign objects as a cover - a newspaper, a hat, a cloak cover the moment of the theft from prying eyes, and from the outside the thief’s actions are more difficult to notice.

A thief may point out supposedly soiled clothing and begin to shake it off, picking out your pockets in the meantime. Or pretend that he was pushed towards you - as if hugging him, at that moment pull out the contents from the bag.

Often criminals can play the role of someone who needs help, asking you to show them the way. This could be a charming girl, or an intellectual with glasses, who looks completely different from the stereotype of a criminal. Be vigilant, the safety of your property directly depends on this.

Backpack against pickpockets and other tricks

Experts say that there is no 100% protection against tweezers. However, over the past few years, special backpacks with protection against pickpockets, whose manufacturers guarantee complete safety of the contents, have been gaining popularity.

This is a modern invention that is magnificent in its simplicity and functionality. The design of the backpack contains many high-tech developments, from zippers hidden in special hard-to-reach folds to a unique fabric that cannot be cut by hand.

The Bobby anti-pickpocket backpack, which got its name from the nickname of police officers in England, was created by the Dutch company XD Design. You can learn more about the secrets of a backpack from thieves by following the link.

Perhaps, such a backpack will serve as truly reliable protection, but we do not advise anyone who does not yet own such an accessory to be upset. A few simple rules will help you avoid financial and property losses:

  • Keep bags with valuables and a wallet out of your sight; don't keep them on the side or back, as this will make them more difficult to control.
  • It is better to hold a backpack in public places not on your shoulder or back, but in your hands.
  • Do not carry valuables, documents, money or phone in your back pockets.
  • The larger the wallet, the more difficult it is to remove it from your bag without being noticed. It can also be attached to the bag with a special chain.
  • Do not attract the attention of intruders - do not take out a wad of money in crowded places, do not count large sums.

Distinguishing between theft and related crimes

Robbery is the illegal taking of someone else's property openly, for example, in front of many eyewitnesses. The robber understands that he is seen by many potential witnesses and makes no attempt to hide from them. Such a crime is punishable under Article 162 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation.

Theft is the secret theft of property, and the robbery is committed in front of witnesses.

Theft and fraud - what are the differences?

For the legal classification of a crime, the ability to distinguish theft from fraud is fundamentally important. They are often confused with each other, but if you understand the essence of each of the crimes, there are clear differences between them. Let's look at them in more detail below:

  • Theft of property is a phenomenon that combines both theft and fraud. That is, the main goal of both crimes is the appropriation of property of various types and volumes by illegal or unlawful means.
  • Fraud is characterized by the obligatory fact of the presence of deception of one kind or another. This means that whenever there is fraud in front of us, we can talk about the presence of illegal cunning and deception in relation to the victim.
  • As a rule, if we are faced with fraud, then the victim herself can transfer the property into the hands of the criminal (without suspecting that a crime is occurring). In the case of theft, the victim does not even realize the crime and does not know about the missing property.
  • In case of fraud, the victim has a chance to avoid loss of property. The fraudster, as it were, provides the opportunity to “not believe” his own lies, and the victim can avoid the crime if he notices that they are trying to deceive her. If we have a theft, then without any alternative the victim is deprived of his property.

The specifics of liability in these various crimes are also different. If persons 16 years of age and older are held liable for fraud, then persons 14 years of age or older are convicted of theft.

Qualification of theft

Simple theft is covered under Part 1 of Article 158 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. If the crime is committed under aggravating circumstances, other parts of this rule are used to apply sanctions to the offender.

Theft has qualifying characteristics if it is committed:

  • by a group of persons by agreement;
  • from non-residential premises;
  • causing significant damage to the victim (<5000 rubles)
  • from the pockets of the victim’s clothing or bag;
  • when entering a residential area;
  • from an oil or gas pipeline;
  • causing major damage (more than 250 thousand rubles);
  • organized criminal group;
  • causing particularly large damage (more than 1 million rubles).

The severity of the punishment depends on the severity of the crime. Its sizes: from 80 thousand rubles to 10 years in prison.

Having committed theft, the offender may face a long prison sentence.

What is considered pickpocketing?

Theft is the secret theft of other people's money or things. If it is made from bags, hand luggage or clothing of a person, when he is dressed in these clothes and carries this luggage in his hands, then it is called pocket. This type of theft is an aggravating circumstance.

The main motive for such violation of the law is self-interest.

Other aggravating circumstances may include:

  • committed by a group of persons;
  • causing significant damage to a citizen;
  • theft on a large or especially large scale.


The significance of the damage is determined by law enforcement agencies based on the financial situation of the victim, but the amount cannot be less than five thousand rubles.

Criminal penalties for pickpocketing

For ordinary theft you can be punished:

  • a fine of up to 80 thousand rubles (or in the amount of income for 6 six months);
  • compulsory, corrective or forced labor;
  • arrest for up to 4 months;
  • restriction or imprisonment for 24 months.

Pickpocketing is more serious than simple theft and the punishment for it is more severe. The maximum fine is two hundred thousand rubles, and the term in prison is up to 5 years.

A pickpocket may be sentenced to compulsory labor for up to 480 hours, or correctional labor for up to 2 years, or forced labor for up to 5 years. An additional penalty is restriction of freedom for up to 1 year.

You can go to jail for stealing a wallet from a bag.


If the amount of damage caused was up to 2,500 rubles , then the offender will only bear administrative liability under Art. 7.27 Code of Administrative Offenses of the Russian Federation. It involves payment of a fine, administrative arrest or compulsory work.

Reference. The specific duration of the punishment is influenced by the severity of the committed act.

Let's say the theft took place in an amount of more than 5,000 rubles. In this case, the offender will be charged under Art. 158 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, and this already means criminal liability. Then the lightest punishment for the criminal will be payment of a fine, and the heaviest punishment will be imprisonment in a colony.

The period of execution of the punishment and its type depend not only on the amount of harm caused, but also on the presence of accompanying aggravating factors.

Who can be acquitted/released from liability?

A criminal can be released from liability if he turns himself in and also tries to compensate the harm he caused to the injured party. Such actions will indicate sincere repentance on his part, as well as his desire to make amends.

To do this, two main conditions must be met: the offender must not have any outstanding convictions, and he must actively cooperate with the investigation.

How to protect yourself from pickpockets?

To do this, you need to follow several rules:

  • do not leave valuables (cash, jewelry, mobile phones) on public display unattended;
  • do not show expensive devices and the contents of your wallet to strangers;
  • do not carry large sums of money with you, it is better to keep them in an account or card;
  • If a stranger comes very close to you on public transport, watch his actions more carefully and be on alert.

With due care, observation and caution, you can avoid the loss of valuables through pickpocketing

What to do if you were robbed - how to prove the theft

What to do if your money or some valuable things are stolen? First of all , try to remember what you were doing at the alleged time of the theft and where you were at that time. Perhaps you just accidentally dropped your things or left them unattended.

At first, do not panic, but remember in detail what you were doing before losing your things.

If nothing was found, then you should remember exactly how much money you had with you and what bank cards you took. They should be blocked immediately by contacting the bank.

Next, you should contact the police. You can do this immediately after the incident in order to find the culprit “hot on its heels.” If you discover the theft after some time, you should write a statement to the nearest law enforcement agency. After 10 days, production according to this document should begin.

If this does not happen, then you can contact the prosecutor's office to get an investigation into the theft to begin.

What should a person do if he is a victim of theft?

  1. It is necessary to quickly contact the police with a statement regarding this fact.
  2. Collect documents and other evidence that the stolen item belongs to the victim.

Pickpocketing is often detected within the first hours after the crime has been committed. Don't hesitate to contact the police.

After completing the application, there is no need to wait. There is a possibility that the thief sold the stolen goods to a pawnshop or consignment store. If you are looking for stolen items, you should go there.

If you discover that a stranger has sold the victim’s personal belongings, you should immediately contact an investigator.

What to do in case of theft?

If you discover that your wallet is missing, you should immediately contact the police. It is better to leave a statement as quickly as possible, because the criminal usually sells the stolen goods in the first hours. You need to act especially quickly if not only money, but also documents have disappeared.

The application must provide the number and denomination of banknotes and indicate the specifics of the documents. If a person does not know where exactly the theft was committed, it is advisable to describe the route in detail. Perhaps the offender did not have time to get rid of his prey or was spotted by a CCTV camera.

Theft and robbery are two different things. When a person is attacked and his bag is taken away, it is called robbery. When violence of this kind is used, the punishment of the perpetrator will be more severe than for simple theft. Theft is an action for which criminal liability is provided. The maximum penalty is 5 years in prison. If other signs are present, this period can be extended to 8 years.

If the offender is a minor, he must also be held accountable. A fine is usually chosen as a preventive measure. If a teenager does not work, his legal representatives must transfer the money in his place. By court decision, a minor may be assigned to serve his sentence in a correctional colony.

How to protect yourself?

You need to protect yourself from thieves. It is important to remember and follow a number of precautionary rules, to be attentive when in crowded places, to look closely at those around you, if you notice someone suspicious, it is advisable to keep your distance. If there is anything valuable in your bag or carry-on luggage, you need to keep it with you, in plain sight. If there is a zipper lock, the bag should be positioned in the direction of travel, and wallets and cash should be at the bottom of the bag or in the internal compartments.

It is safer to store money in the inner pockets of clothes or jackets; you should not take large sums with you unless necessary. It is better to prevent a crime than to eliminate its consequences.

Author of the article

Dmitry Leonov

Work experience 15 years, specialization - housing, family, inheritance, land, criminal cases.

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Qualifying features

The qualifying signs of theft are specified in article one hundred and fifty-eight of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation.

Thus, the qualifying criteria include the commission of theft by a group of persons.

For example, one of the criminals distracts the victim with an incident or conversation, while the other tries to commit theft.

Also another qualifying feature is the commission of theft by prior conspiracy.

Theft with property damage is very common.

For example, if the phone cannot be taken out of the back pocket without the owner’s knowledge, it is cut off with a blade or the bottom of the bag is cut out.

To remove the chain, criminals can also cut it.



Pickpocketing is a form of theft and it falls under Article 158 of the Criminal Code.

It is sad to observe the trend that theft is becoming an interesting activity and less and less often it is classified as a real crime.

There are a lot of training videos on the Internet, many thieves even write blogs in which they share their many years of experience.

And all this is absorbed by the fragile consciousness of young people.

These facts are corrupting our society.

Pickpocketing differs from ordinary theft only in the way it is committed.

Theft is the secret theft of any property that is in your possession.

A distinctive feature of pickpocketing is that it is committed from your immediate property.

For example, from a bag, a pocket, many professionals know how to steal even from a hand.


In the underworld, there are even different names for these criminals depending on the manner in which such theft was committed.


Thief-plucker - who is this? This is a thief who has the so-called highest qualifications for such thefts.

He will easily get into your bag, other personal items and get everything he needs.

Tweezers can also remove jewelry and hats.

Typically, this is a certain level of skill that is respected in the criminal world.


A pickpocket is a thief who specializes in pockets.

Pants, skirts, bags, if there is something valuable in the pockets of your things, the pickpocket will first pay attention to it, and then, using sleight of hand, will get what he wants.

Theft items for a pickpocket are cell phones, wallets, money, and plastic cards.

Examples from judicial practice

An example of pickpocketing is a story that happened in the center of Moscow.

A strange young man inserted himself into a group of foreign tourists, but a little later it turned out that he had disappeared, and with him the expensive phones and tablets of the group members.

It’s good that some people still have photographs of the criminal.

The police were hot on the trail of a criminal who was selling the loot in a nearby underground passage.

Another case occurred in Tula, where a pickpocket on public transport tried to take a mobile phone from a woman’s pocket.

But the lady’s vigilant companion saw that a stranger was suspiciously clinging to his passion and saw the theft taking place.

The man detained the novice thief and sent him to the police.

As you can see, pickpocketing awaits you in transport, in stores, and just on the street.

You must be extremely careful to avoid becoming another victim of this crime.

Try not to show valuables to the criminal and then you will not be the target of a crime.

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