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(Russian, krazha), in criminal law, the secret stealing of property. The secrecy with which the property is taken, implying that the criminal is confident that his actions are not observed by the victim or other people, distinguishes theft from grabezh (open stealing) and robbery.
In the USSR the criminal codes of the Union republics establish separate liability for theft with the intent to gain possession of state or social property and theft with the intent to gain possession of personal property (for example, the Criminal Code of the RSFSR, arts. 89 and 144). Stricter punishment is prescribed for the theft of state or social property than for the theft of personal property. Liability for the theft of state or social property on an especially large scale or for the petty theft of such property is established by special norms (for example, arts. 931 and 96 of the Criminal Code of the RSFSR).
Under the law the circumstances aggravating liability for theft are repeated theft, theft by a group of people in accordance with a prior agreement, theft using technical means (the latter only in the criminal codes of the RSFSR, Georgian SSR, and Tadzhik SSR), and theft causing significant loss to the victim (in theft of personal property). Especially aggravating circumstances are the commission of theft by a particularly dangerous recidivist or on a large scale (in theft of state or social property).