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Criminal Resource Manual

1639. Definition -- "Steal Or Purloin"

The terms to steal or to purloin have no established meaning in the common law. See United States v. Maloney, 607 F.2d 222, 229 (9th Cir. 1979), cert. denied, 445 U.S. 918 (1980) (purloin); Crabb v. Zerbst, 99 F.2d 562, 565 (5th Cir. 1938) (steal). Instead, these terms refer generally to the crime of larceny and were developed in modern pleading to broaden larceny beyond its strict common law definition. See United States v. Maloney, 607 F.2d at 229; United States v. Archambault, 441 F.2d 281, 282-83 (10th Cir.), cert. denied, 404 U.S. 843 (1971).

Larceny, under 18 U.S.C. § 641, requires proof of the following four elements: (1) the wrongful taking and carrying away (asportation); (2) of personal property belonging to another, in this case property of the United States; (3) without the consent of the owner; and (4) with the intent to deprive the owner of his property. See United States v. Barlow, 480 F.2d 1245, 1251 (D.C.Cir. 1972). Larceny, like embezzlement, is a specific intent crime. However, in contrast to embezzlement, larceny requires an intent to permanently deprive another of his property. See Ailsworth v. United States, 448 F.2d 439, 442 (9th Cir. 1971).

This language in 18 U.S.C. § 641 encompasses all forms of larceny, including larceny by trick. See United States v. Crutchley, 502 F.2d 1195 (3d Cir. 1975). It also includes closely related property offenses, such as theft by false pretenses. See Morgan v. United States, 380 F.2d 686 (9th Cir. 1967), cert. denied, 390 U.S. 962 (1968).

[cited in USAM 9-66.200]