Aggravated vehicle taking


This offence was introduced in 1992 in response to public concern about what had become known as 'joyriding'. Before 1992, it was an offence under Section 12 of the Theft Act 1968 to take a vehicle without the consent of the owner, or anyone else able to give permission on behalf of the owner. The offence also covered those not actually responsible for taking the vehicle, but who drove the vehicle, or allowed themselves to be carried in it after it was taken, knowing that it had been taken without permission. It is still an offence.

However, the original offence did not take into account any bad driving of the vehicle after it had been unlawfully taken, or the consequences that could follow from the vehicle being driven. The aggravated offence was introduced to deal with this.

It can be found in Section 12A of the Theft Act 1968 and is committed if, after the vehicle is unlawfully taken but before it is recovered, any one or more of the following occurs:

•  the vehicle is driven dangerously on a road or other public place

•  owing to the driving of the vehicle, a collision occurs by which injury is caused to any person

•  owing to the driving of the vehicle, a collision occurs by which damage is caused to any property, other than the vehicle

•  damage is caused to the vehicle

The offence can be tried in the magistrates' court or in the Crown Court. At the Crown Court the maximum sentence is normally 2 years' imprisonment, except where any collision has caused the death of the victim, in which case the maximum sentence is 14 years' imprisonment.


Disqualification from driving for a minimum period of 12 months is obligatory.