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Massachusetts Auto Theft Laws

The general definition of theft is the taking of someone else's property without their permission and with the intent to permanently deprive them of the property. Many states have multiple statutes addressing theft, usually separated by the character or value of the property that's stolen, or the characteristics of the theft victim. In Massachusetts, for example, stealing a motor vehicle or trailer is addressed in its own statute. The statute also addresses knowingly hiding a motor vehicle or trailer thief, which can result in up to ten years in prison, up to two and a half years in jail, a fine of up to $5,000, or both a fine and imprisonment.

Massachusetts Auto Theft Laws: An Overview

There's no arguing that the best way to find the answer to your legal question is to look up the actual statute that applies. But, when you want a quick and easy answer, reading a statute full of legal jargon can be frustrating. For this reason, it can be helpful to read a summary of the statute free of "legalese." Below you'll find links to relevant statutes as well as a brief overview of auto theft laws in Massachusetts.


Massachusetts General Laws, Part IV, Title I, Chapter 266, Section 28 (Motor Vehicle or Trailer: Theft or Concealment)

What's Prohibited?

The following acts are prohibited under Massachusetts auto theft laws:

  • Stealing a motor vehicle or trailer;
  • Maliciously damaging a motor vehicle or trailer;
  • Buying, receiving, concealing, possessing, or getting control of a motor vehicle or trailer knowing or having reason to know* that it's stolen; or
  • Taking a motor vehicle without the authority of the owner and stealing any of its parts or accessories.

*Evidence that a motor vehicle or trailer's identifying numbers have been intentionally and maliciously removed, defaced, or altered is prima facie evidence that the defendant knew or had reason to know that the motor vehicle or trailer had been stolen.


Violation of Massachusetts auto theft laws can result in:

  • Up to 15 years in prison;
  • Up to 2.5 years in jail;
  • A fine of up to $15,000; or
  • A combination of imprisonment and a fine.
Related Statute(s)

Massachusetts General Laws, Part IV, Title I

  • Chapter 265, Section 21A (Assault for Purpose of Stealing Motor Vehicle)
  • Chapter 266, Section 30 (Larceny: General Provisions and Penalties)

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.

Massachusetts Auto Theft Laws: Related Resources

For more information and resources related to this topic, please click on the links below.

Charged under Massachusetts Auto Theft Laws? Contact an Attorney

As you can see, there are a range of possible penalties for violating Massachusetts auto theft laws. The best way to better understand the possible penalties that apply to your specific situation is to speak with a legal professional. So, if you've been arrested for violating Massachusetts auto theft laws, or any other criminal laws, it's in your best interest to speak with a local criminal defense attorney to discuss your case and learn about your options moving forward.

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