larceny, in law, the unlawful taking and carrying away of the property of another, with intent to deprive the owner of its use or to appropriate it to the use of the perpetrator or of someone else. It is usually distinguished from embezzlement and false pretenses in that the actual taking of the property is accomplished unlawfully and without the victim's consent (see robbery); along with the taking there must be a carrying-off. It is also distinguished from burglary in that the theft does not necessarily involve unlawful breaking and entering. Statutes in some states of the United States enlarge the scope of larceny to include embezzlement and false pretenses. Grand larceny, usually a felony, is distinguished from petty larceny, usually a misdemeanor, by the value of the property stolen.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.