In Illinois, the crime of theft is defined in 720 ILCS 5/16-1 as the crime a person commits when they knowingly does any of the following:
(1) Obtains or exerts unauthorized control over property of the owner; or
(2) Obtains by deception control over property of the owner; or
(3) Obtains by threat control over property of the owner; or
(4) Obtains control over stolen property knowing the property to have been stolen or under such circumstances as would reasonably induce him or her to believe that the property was stolen; or
(5) Obtains or exerts control over property in the custody of any law enforcement agency which any law enforcement officer or any individual acting in behalf of a law enforcement agency explicitly represents to the person as being stolen or represents to the person such circumstances as would reasonably induce the person to believe that the property was stolen, and (A) Intends to deprive the owner permanently of the use or benefit of the property; or (B) Knowingly uses, conceals or abandons the property in such manner as to deprive the owner permanently of such use or benefit; or (C) Uses, conceals, or abandons the property knowing such use, concealment or abandonment probably will deprive the owner permanently of such use or benefit.
The value of the property that is alleged to have been stolen determines the seriousness of the theft charges in Illinois. Generally speaking, theft of property under $500 is a misdemeanor, while theft of property that is more valuable is a felony, with the class of felony becoming more serious as the value of the property increases.
The Illinois theft statute is more complex than the theft statutes employed by many states. As an example, some portions of the Illinois theft statute make certain types of theft (such as falsely posing as a landlord to obtain rent from a tenant) more serious than dollar amount would otherwise suggest. Other provisions in Illinois law make theft of certain property (such as property owned by the government or a church) a more serious crime than if that property were to have been stolen from a different owner. For that reason, a person charged with theft in Illinois is well advised to seek an attorney who is familiar with the statute and caselaw concerning theft in Illinois.