Theft is considered as the removal or taking of someone else’s property or assets with the intention of retaining possession without their permission.
This is considered a serious crime in the UAE and the punishment available to a judge can range from a fine to a jail sentence. A jail sentence would usually be between 6 months and 3 years but can be even higher in specific circumstances. The sentence can rise as high as 7 years for theft in the workplace by an employee or even higher if a lethal weapon is used in carrying out the crime. Some common examples of theft cases and typical penalties are:
- Using a vehicle without the permission of the owner – jail sentence of one year or AED 10,000 fine.
- Employee theft, stealing from their employer’s office – jail sentence of 5 to 7 years.
- Grazing. Eating food in a store or supermarket without paying.
- Failing to pay for a meal consumed in a restaurant can be treated as a crime but will be up to the judge to determine if the refusal to pay is valid. A valid reason might be that the food was not as ordered by the person or that it was of poor or inedible quality.
- If a bank or money exchange accidently hands over a higher amount of money than the person is entitled to (such as a counter withdrawal or cheque encashment) it would be considered theft if the person deliberately keeps the additional money.