Shoplifting, stealing, fraud and burglary


Shoplifting can mean more than just taking something from a shop without paying. Criminal offences covered by this act include:

  • shoplifting—taking goods from a store without paying
  • eating or drinking something in a shop without paying
  • swapping, removing or altering price tags to get a lower price for an item
  • leaving a restaurant or hotel without paying.

If the value of goods stolen is less than $150, shoplifting falls under the Regulatory Offences Act 1985 and carries a fine of 6 penalty units ($827.1).

If the value of the goods stolen from a store is more than $150, you can be charged with the more serious offence of stealing (or fraud if you leave a hotel or restaurant without paying a bill greater than $150) which carries a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison.

More information about shoplifting or not paying.


Stealing is taking something—it could be a car, an animal, an item of jewellery or anything of value—that belongs to another person, without their consent, and keeping it with no intention of giving it back to them.

The maximum penalty for stealing is 5 years imprisonment although if the theft includes aggravation—carrying a weapon or physically harming someone—the penalty can be up to 14 years in prison.


Fraud is a type of stealing that involves obtaining goods, property, money or services dishonestly—by not telling the truth.

It includes dishonestly:

  • obtaining property belonging to someone else
  • applying someone else's property to your own use
  • causing a detriment to another person or entity (an organisation)
  • gaining a benefit or advantage for any person
  • inducing or causing any person to deliver property to another person.

An example of fraud would be claiming benefits from Centrelink you are not entitled to.

The penalty for fraud is up to 10 years in prison.

If you suspect someone is fraudulently obtaining benefits from Medicare, Centrelink or Child Support you can report it directly to the agency involved or you can call the Australian Government Services Fraud Tip-off Line on 131 524.

Find out more about fraud.

Report fraud.


Burglary—illegally entering someone’s house with the intent to steal—has a maximum penalty of 14 years in jail; however, when the burglary takes place at night, the break-in is made with an accomplice or there is an element of aggravation in the crime—the burglar is armed or even pretends to be armed—the maximum penalty is life imprisonment.

Tips for preventing burglary of your house.