Larceny, in law, a form of theft. It involves (1) the taking and carrying away of personal property, without consent of the owner, by a person not entitled to possession of the property; and (2) intent to deprive the owner of the use of the property and make it available for use by the thief.
The crime differs from other thefts in these ways: (1) no violence or threat of violence is used, as in robbery; and (2) the property is not surrendered willingly or given for safe keeping, as in false pretense or embezzlement. (In some states, however, false pretense and embezzlement are defined by statute as larceny.) Larceny may or may not be preceded by burglary (the act of breaking into a building to commit a serious crime).
Shoplifters, pickpockets, and automobile thieves are examples of persons who commit larceny. Larceny is petty or grand, depending on the value of the property stolen. Grand larceny is a. felony, or major crime. Petty larceny is a misdemeanor, or minor crime.