Definition - What does Petty Theft mean?
Petty theft refers to a less serious version of theft. Most jurisdictions write their criminal statutes to include varying degrees of seriousness for theft. Most commonly, theft is defined as either petty theft or grand theft. The difference between petty and grand theft is the value of the property stolen.
Justipedia explains Petty Theft
The creation of different versions of theft reflects the notion that some acts of theft are more serious than others. Stealing a car is more serious than stealing a candy bar, for example. Stealing a car is often characterized as grand theft, while stealing a candy bar is characterized as petty theft.
Usually, jurisdictions set a value threshold to distinguish between grand and petty theft. If the value of whatever a person stole is less than $500, for example, it may be petty theft. If the value is over $500, the theft may be characterized as grand theft.
Petty theft usually subjects a thief to less severe punishments than grand theft.