Theft, theft and theft – what’s the difference

Theft  – this word is most often used to refer to a situation in which a person illegally took possession of someone else’s car. For example, he opened the car, made some manipulations with the starter and disappeared on this car over the horizon. But it’s actually not a steal .

Of course, for simplicity, many officials and insurance companies prefer to refer to all car theft crimes with this definition. But theft is different. You need to be able to distinguish situations, in particular, so as not to get into trouble when drawing up an application for an insured event.

So what is hijacking? According to article 166 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation , this is “illegal possession of a car or other vehicle without the purpose of theft “. What is popularly called “took a ride.”


17-year-old Vladimir, without asking, took the car keys from his uncle and went with friends on a trip around the neighborhood. On one of the roads, a young motorist was stopped by a traffic police patrol.

Since Vladimir did not have any documents for the car, nor the right to drive it, law enforcement officers detained the young man to clarify the circumstances. Subsequently, he and his friends were charged under article 166 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, part 2, paragraph “a” for car theft .

Taking into account extenuating circumstances (age plus the fact that the car belonged to Vladimir’s uncle and he refused any claims), the young man was sentenced to two years in prison on probation.

By the way, “illegally take possession of a vehicle without the purpose of theft” is also possible together with the driver. For example, if a passenger threatens him with a weapon, demanding to be taken to a designated point. After all, at this moment the owner of the car is actually deprived of the opportunity to dispose of the car at his discretion.

And how then to classify the theft of a car (permanently)?

From the point of view of law, there are several situations in which the appropriation or seizure of a car is the purpose of the crime.

The first is theft. According to article 158 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, this term is understood as “secret theft of another’s property” committed for selfish purposes (for example, for sale on the black market). If the cost of a car exceeds 1,000,000 rubles, the crime can be classified as point “b” of part 4. The maximum punishment under this article is 10 years in prison.

The second option is robbery, that is, “open theft of property.” Most likely, the illegal possession of a car in such a situation will fall under part 2 (paragraph “d”) or part 3 (paragraph “b”) of Article 161 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation . The maximum penalty for such a crime is 12 years in prison.

Finally, the third option is robbery. According to article 162 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation , this is “an attack for the purpose of stealing someone else’s property, committed with the use of violence dangerous to life or health, or with the threat of using such violence.” Robbery with the aim of stealing a car can be regarded as a crime under part 3 or 4 (point “b”). For this, the attacker can face up to 15 years in prison.


Mikhail managed to steal as many as three cars in a few weeks. He stole the first one at night from a parking lot in the city center. The second – a couple of days later in one of the sleeping areas. Mikhail simply got into an open car and drove away right in front of the owner, who at that moment was leaving the store.

A week later, the attacker made a third run – in the parking lot, he  threatened the driver with a knife and took the car from him. When Mikhail tried to escape, he was detained by the police. Later, the attacker was charged with three different articles for stealing three cars: theft , robbery and  robbery .

What do insurance companies mean by theft?

Most insurers include all of the above crimes in the risk of “hijacking” under CASCO (although we recommend comparing the conditions using our calculator ). This term is usually understood as “illegal seizure of the vehicle by theft, robbery, robbery or theft.” And here there is an important nuance: the last paragraph applies only to those situations where the car was not found before the payment of insurance compensation.

If the car was stolen, and then it was found (or returned), you can count on compensation only if the car was damaged or destroyed. Moreover, if the vehicle was stolen, the owner received compensation, and then the car returned “to its native harbor”, the money will have to be returned – otherwise the insurance company has the right to do this in court.

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