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Illinois Auto Theft Laws

There are many reasons that people steal cars: sometimes cars are taken for their parts or wheels, while other times people just want to use the car temporarily for a joyride. Motor vehicle theft is a crime typically committed in order to carry out other crimes. For instance, stolen cars are often used in shootings or robberies because the stolen car has no ties to the perpetrator. Whatever the motive may be, if you take a car, you should be aware that you can face charges under Illinois' theft laws.

In Illinois when you steal a car, you will not be facing grand theft auto charges. Instead, the state charges this crime under its general theft statute because there is not a separate statute for motor vehicle thefts in the state.

Illinois Auto Theft Laws at a Glance

The chart below provides a summary of laws related to Illinois' auto theft laws, including links to important code sections.

Statute and Elements

Theft statute: 720 ILCS 5/16-1

A person commits theft when he or she knowingly engages in the following:

  • Exerting unauthorized control over another person's property
  • Obtaining control over another's property via deception
  • Threatening the owner in order to gain control of his or her property, or
  • Obtaining control over stolen property that you know is stolen or that you have reason to know is stolen.

Penalties and Sentencing

The penalties depend on various factors such as the value of the vehicle stolen and who owns the vehicle. In addition to fines, you may face incarceration.

Class 3 felony:

  • The value of the stolen vehicle is over $500 but not more than $10,000.
  • This carries up to a 5 years imprisonment.

Class 2 felony:

  • Theft of a vehicle valued over $10,000 but less than $100,000.
  • Theft of a vehicle valued at less than $10,000 but is government property.
  • If the actor has used deception to steal a vehicle worth $5000 or more from a person who is 60 years old or older.
  • This offense is punishable by a maximum of 7 years in prison.

Class 1 felony:

  • Theft of government-owned vehicle valued over $10,000 but less than $100,000.
  • Theft of a vehicle valued between $100,000 and $500,000.
  • This offense is punishable by a maximum of 15 years in prison.

Class 1 non-probationary felony:

  • Theft of vehicle valued between $500,000 and $1,000,000.

Class X felony:

  • Theft of a government-owned vehicle that exceeds $100,000.
  • Theft of any vehicle valued at over $1,000,000.
  • This offense carries a sentence of up to 30 years in prison.

Possible Defenses

  • Consent
  • Mistake of fact
  • Ownership of the vehicle

Related Offenses

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Illinois Auto Theft Laws: Related Resources

Speak with an Illinois Attorney about Your Illinois Auto Theft Case

If you've been accused of stealing a car, then you probably want to speak to an experienced attorney who understands Illinois' auto theft laws. Because you may be facing hefty fines and incarceration, you should consider talking to a criminal defense attorney who can help you decide what action to take.

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