Is there an umbrella term (ideally, a single word) for crimes of illegally taking possession of someone else's property “quietly”, not involving the use of violence, threats, or endangerment?

  • So it should include pickpocketing, shoplifting, breaking & entering (if no one is present in or near the building who could be endangered or alarmed), embezzlement, fraud, stealing money in electronic form using illegal access to computer systems, forgery of money or documents representing ownership of property.
  • But it should exclude robbery, extortion, taking hostages, vandalism (because it is destruction rather than taking possession), and crimes involving high-speed car chase (because it endangers people).
  • 3
    Maybe "larceny" - M-W: ": the unlawful taking of personal property with intent to deprive the rightful owner of it permanently" Commented Nov 20, 2021 at 21:00
  • "property crime" is a common phrase. Your list seems very arbitrary though, vandalism is often fixed with soap and water but burglary can cause lasting psychological scars.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Nov 20, 2021 at 21:27
  • I have heard a term that fits this concept quite well. Sadly, I can't remember what it is.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Nov 20, 2021 at 21:30
  • Strange that you should include breaking & entering but exclude vandalism. Commented Nov 20, 2021 at 21:36
  • 1
    No, they avoid confrontation because it increases the chance of getting caught and/or hurt themselves. Commented Nov 20, 2021 at 23:19

3 Answers 3


Maybe just "theft"? or "non-violent theft"?


You typically hear of these types of crimes referred to as "non-violent crimes". You can call it "finessing" if you like. As Jack mentioned in the comment, one example of these crimes is larceny, although not all of these crimes can be called larceny.

  • 1
    I think that a “non-violent crime” is a much wider term than I need. It includes crimes not involving illegally taking possession of someone else's property, e.g. growing marijuana at home, jaywalking, trespassing, crossing a border without inspection, driving with an expired driver's license, ignoring a subpoena, etc. Commented Nov 20, 2021 at 22:24

Perhaps “Adverse Possession” covers the spread here? I’m not sure, it might be more of a land type property inference, but maybe it will help?

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    Commented Nov 21, 2021 at 15:29
  • The problem with adverse possession is that not many native speakers of English who neglected to get themselves a law degree would understand what it means. Commented Nov 22, 2021 at 14:52

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