Theft claims more victims and causes greater economic injury than any other criminal offense. Yet theft law is enigmatic, and fundamental questions about what should count as stealing remain unresolvedespecially misappropriations of intellectual property, information, ideas, identities, and virtual property.
In Thirteen Ways to Steal a Bicycle, Stuart Green assesses our current legal framework at a time when our economy increasingly commodifies intangibles and when the means of committing theft and fraud grow ever more sophisticated. Was it theft for the editor of a technology blog to buy a prototype iPhone he allegedly knew had been lost by an Apple engineer in a Silicon Valley bar? Was it theft for doctors to use a patient’s tissue without permission in order to harvest a valuable cell line? For an Internet activist to publish tens of thousands of State Department documents on his Web site?
In this full-scale critique, Green reveals that the last major reforms in Anglophone theft law, which took place almost fifty years ago, flattened moral distinctions, so that the same punishments are now assigned to vastly different offenses. Unreflective of community attitudes toward theft, which favor gradations in blameworthiness according to what is stolen and under what circumstances, and uninfluenced by advancements in criminal law theory, theft law cries out for another reformationand soon.
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About the Author
Stuart P. Green is Distinguished Professor of Law and Justice Nathan L. Jacobs Scholar at Rutgers School of Law–Newark.
Table of Contents
1 Theft Law Adrift 8
2 The Gist of Theft 69
3 Theft as a Crime 132
4 Property in Theft Law 203
What People are Saying About This
13 Ways to Steal a Bicycle is a tour de force—as wonderful as its title and as fascinating as its subject. Theft law is strange and this book tries to explain that strangeness—why it matters so much just exactly how something is stolen, by robbery, larceny, fraud, or other means; why only certain things are considered capable of being stolen; why the theft of electricity, sexual services, or glory are so problematic. This is a work of first-class scholarship, in addition to being just plain fun to read.
Leo Katz, University of Pennsylvania
Groundbreaking in every sense, 13 Ways to Steal a Bicycle lays the foundation for the serious study of the law of theft. No one will be able to write on the subject of property offenses without learning from Stuart Green's book.
Markus Dubber, University of Toronto
Theft law, that vital but underexamined part of our jurisprudence, gets its best contemporary treatment from Stuart Green. This book is at once a comprehensive treatise, a pedagogic tool, and a provocative argument of both moral philosophy and social policy. Especially as we focus increasingly on intangible property, Green's book guides us to a fresh inquiry into what ways of taking things—and what things are taken—should lead to criminal condemnation. It will dominate discussions of theft in the coming years.
Robert Weisberg, Stanford University