The definition of theft under the Theft Act 1968 is ‘A person is guilty
of theft if he dishonestly appropriates property belonging to another
with intention to permanently deprive the other of it’. (England & Wales)
I was a cop (mainly a detective) for 30 years and thought of this after mentioning the Sparlock video during the JW FS visit today. Criminal law is never straight forward but bear with me.
The facts in the video are, I think, that Caleb brings home the Sparlock toy which he has borrowed from a friend. His mother (or Caleb at her instruction) puts it into the trash from where (presumably) it will go for landfill/incineration/whatever.
So, to consider:
The Sparlock toy is real, physical, property.
It belongs to another - Caleb's friend - and there has been no transfer of ownership, just a 'borrowing'.
There has been an 'appropriation', which means assuming the rights of ownership, doing what you want with it, which includes destruction.
'Intent to permanently deprive' would certainly include sending it to landfill or incineration.
So those elements are adequately covered, I think We are left with 'dishonesty' which in case law and statute law is rather covered in the negative. Does she genuinely believe she has a lawful right to Sparlock? No, she knows it belongs to Caleb's friend. (It matters not that she may be prepared to pay for it.) Does she genuinely believe that the owner would consent to its appropriation (destruction)? There is no ground whatever for that belief (she could have asked him but didn't).
And so, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I put it to you that the elements of the offence are satisfied and that Caleb's mother is - at least prima facie - guilty of theft.
(To those who may think that this is trivial - read your local newspaper for reports of people who are convicted of stealing - shoplifting - items of small value.)