Difference between Theft and Extortion

theft and extortion

Section 378, 379, 383 and 384 explains fully the definitions and punishment of theft and thus the extortion occupies a middle place between theft and robbery. Both offences are different from each other.

Relevant Provision

Following are the relevant provisions of IPC regarding the concerned topic:

  • Sections 378 and 379 for theft.
  • Sections 383 and 384 for Extortion.

Theft- Sec 373

Whoever, intending to take dishonestly any movable property out of the possession of any person without that person’s consent, moves that property in order to such tacking, is said to commit theft.

Ingredients of Theft:

In order to constitute theft, following factors are essential[1]

(a) Dishonest intention to take property.

(b) Property must be moveable

(c) That should be in possession of other person.

(d) There must be remove or moving of that property.

(e) Without consent of the owner.

Punishment Sec 379:

Whoever commits theft shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years or with fine or with both.

Extortion -Sec 383

Whoever intentionally puts any person in fear of any injury to that person or to any other and thereby dishonestly induces the person so put in fear to deliver to any person any property or valuable security or anything signed or sealed which may be converted into a valuable security, commits extortion.


Following are the ingredients of extortion.

(i) Fear of Injury

There must be intentionally putting a person in fear of injury to himself or another. Injury implies illegal harm, and it may be of any kind.


`A’ threatens ‘B’ that he will keep ‘A’s child in wrongful confinement unless ‘A’ gives him certain amount of money. ‘A’ has committer extortion:

(ii) Dishonest Inducement

The element of dishonesty if the essence of the offence of extortion. There can be no extortion unless a person is by threat of injury dishonestly induces to deliver to any person any property or valuable security, or anything signed or sealed which may be converted into valuable security.


`A’ by putting ‘Z’ in fear of previous hurt, dishonestly induces ‘Z’ to sign or fix his seal to a blank paper and deliver it to ‘A’. Signs and delivers the paper to ‘A’. Here as the paper so signed may be converted into a valuable security `A’ has committed extortion.

(iii) Try any Person

It is not necessary that the threat should be used and the property received by one and the same individual. A threat may be made by some and the property received by other persons, and all will be guilty of extortion.

Punishment Sec 384

Whoever, commits extortion shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years or with fine or with both.

Difference between Theft and Extortion[3]

As to consent

In extortion, consent is obtained by putting the person in possession of property in fear of injury to himself or any other person.

In theft, the offender’s intention is to take the property without the owner’s consent.

Element of force

There is element of force in the offence of extortion as the property is obtained by putting a person in fear of injury to that person or any other.

There is no element of force in theft.


Extortion is wider in scope as it covers any kind of property, valuable security or anything that maybe converted into valuable security.

Theft covers only the cases of moveable property.


In extortion, both moveable and immovable property may be the subject of the offence.

In theft it is limited only to moveable property.


In extortion, the property is delivered.

In theft, there is dishonest removal of property.

Taking of Property

In extortion, threat may be by one person and the property may be received by another person.

In theft, property must be move by a person in order to such taking.


Maintenance of peace and order is essential in any society for humans to live peacefully and without fear of injury to lives, limbs and property. The chief concern of law of crimes is to protect and preserve certain fundamental social values and institutions, and for this, it prescribes a set of norms of human behaviour and forbids certain conducts; and prescribes punishments for the disregards of such norms and conducts.[4]

In last to conclude the topic, theft and extortion are two different offences, relating to property. The main difference between theft and robbery is presence of force in theft by extortion and element of force is absent in thefts.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What are the best examples of legalized theft and extortion?

For instance, A $72 parking ticket had been given, this ticket was given for parking on a street between certain hours which is in violation of the law. However not one sign was displayed anywhere within one square mile of this street parking where many people park and were parked on that day. The city simply decided to arbitrarily issue parking violations after passing a law making it a violation to park on these city streets between the hours of 10:00 A.M. and 4:00 P.M.

According to state law none-residents of any city are not expected to know the laws of that city however are expected to know the laws of the state. Therefore unless the violator of this infraction has been forewarned of the local imposed law then he/she should not be cited prior to being warned. The city must follow the guidelines of the state when it comes to warning drivers of the city’s own imposed laws which in this case must be a sign posted which explains the city law read “No Parking Between the Hours of 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.”

When the city issues this ticket under false preferences and refuses to remove the citation they are not only in violation of state law but are, in their minds, legally obtaining money however in reality are stealing money which answers the first part of the question.

If the violator fails to pay the fine then the amount of the fine continues to compound by doubling several times in the same way we wish our stock would. If the imposed still fails to pay the fine such vehicle will be seized and sold at auction or the owner cannot obtain a registration and eventually impounding becomes inevitable and therefore answers the second part of the question regarding extortion.

As mentioned the city earns over $7.7 million annually from this practice alone as they bank on the fact that maybe 1 in 100 might contest the citation. This practice is one of the largest ongoing legalized theft and extortion rackets.[5]

2. If someone forcibly takes 100% of your income, is it theft? What about 50% of your income? If they do this over and over again, every year of your productive life, is that extortion?

No, it’s called a deal.

Social contract is exactly that a contract as soon as you have enough money and are old enough to walk out of a country then any possible argument about coercion goes straight out the window. Especially if you are rich or can be an expat.

You stayed or agreed to stay or are staying — you made a deal to pay. You might think it’s a bad deal you might think the deal needs to change but it isn’t extortion or theft because there is a deal going on. If you don’t like the contract you can rip it out cash out and leave the country. [6]

Libertarians call anything short of gun to head coercion. But, they also say that anything except a gun to the head is free will. They cannot reconcile this contradiction because modern libertarianism is an ideology mostly for two types of people, those who have it all and don’t want to give any away at all and those who don’t know enough about life and think that live and let live always works (it doesn’t always work).

Bottom line they don’t want to call it anarchism or capitalism, so they wrap it around flags and call it libertarianism. It’s not really it’s anarchism or capitalism rebranded with modern politics.

In reality the richest people, short of pure capitalists who do nothing but manipulate money love people and need people to make their money. Then you look at the vast majority of millionaires and billionaires and they made their money through selling to the masses some good or service which actually creates jobs and happiness. And the majority of rich would not run or escape even if taxes are very, very high because they know they need people to make money. And if they did, the types to walk away are those who give very little value back or actually make conditions worse for everyone else.

And of course those who make products and services are truly rich. The only exception are the pure capitalists who work with only money an unfortunate side effect of the necessary evil called capitalism.

No the rich won’t walk off at high taxes, even taxes close to 50%. Just remember in progressive taxation not all the income is taxed at 50% only the amount over the last tax bracket. And if you are very good with money and know how to spend and use deductions (which you should be if you are rich or hire someone to do it) then 50% easily becomes 40%.

3. Would the redistribution of wealth be more accurately called theft or extortion?

If you’re willing to give away someone else’s money for a cause but not your own, it’s not only theft, but hypocrisy and cowardice on top.

Edited by J. Madonna Jephi

Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje


[1] Sukender Debnath, The essential ingredients of the offence of extortion (Section 383 of IPC), http://www.shareyouressays.com/knowledge/the-essential-ingredients-of-the-offence-of-extortion-section-383-of-ipc/119021, (last visited Jan 21, 2017, 2:00 PM)

[2] K.D. Gaur, Textbook on Indian Penal Code, Fifth Edition 2014

[3] Mayank Shekhar, Theft and Extortion, https://www.legalbites.in/law-notes-ipc-theft-and-extortion/, (last visited June 12, 2015, 5:30 PM)

[4] Ratanlal and Dhirajlal, Indian Penal Code, Thirty-Fifth Edition

[5] Chris Thomas, What are the best examples of legalized theft and extortion?, https://www.quora.com/What-are-the-best-examples-of-legalized-theft-and-extortion, (last visited on July,26,2018)

[6] Brian Lim, If someone forcibly takes 100% of your income, is it theft? What about 50% of your income? If they do this over and over again, every year of your productive life, is that extortion?,https://www.quora.com/If-someone-forcibly-takes-100-of-your-income-is-it-theft-What-about-50-of-your-income-If-they-do-this-over-and-over-again-every-year-of-your-productive-life-is-that-extortion, (last visited on Jan 16, 2016)

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Akshita Piplani
I am Akshita Piplani pursuing LLB from New Law College, Bharati Vidyapeeth University, Pune.Apart from being a confident speaker, I am hardworking, meticulous and a keen learner.I have also participated in a plethora of competitions including debates,moot competition, ,quizes,etc.The injustices of the world bother me since childhood and I always wanted to be able to make a difference by helping people around me to find the right way to deal with maze of life.I have a great passion in Legal areas dealing with company law, intellectual property and drafting.I have the ability to stay calm under pressure with good time management skills.Besides learning stuff,I love playing badminton, watching good movies, love to sing and explore new music.It is my hope that my blog will encourage people to step out of their comfort zone allowing society to maintain the process of societal order and therefore it has a big impact on everyone's lives.