Difference Between Auto Theft And Grand Theft Auto

Auto Theft means the stealing of an automobile, as the name suggests. Grand Auto Theft is a type of Auto Theft, from its many types.

Sometimes the two terms are used interchangeably as there are not many differences between the two of them. There are only a few key differences.

Auto Theft vs Grand Theft Auto

The main difference between the terms auto theft and grand auto theft is that auto theft means stealing an automobile that is a vehicle and grand auto theft is a type of it. Auto theft occurs under different circumstances, addressing different auto theft crimes. And grand auto theft is one of them.

Auto Theft vs Grand Auto Theft

Auto theft is the stealing of an automobile, taking an automobile in another’s name without that person’s consent. It is also known as motor vehicle theft.

It included vehicles like cars, trucks, jeeps. Auto theft is a big business. According to the stats, one car is stolen every 35 minutes.

Grand auto theft is a type of auto theft, in which the car or the whole vehicle is stolen to sell its part or use it for another crime.

Grand auto theft is different than petty theft and is charged with more penalties and punishment.

Comparison Table Between Auto Theft And Grand Theft Auto

Parameters of ComparisonAuto TheftGrand Theft Auto.
What is it?A crime of stealing vehicles.A type of auto theft
What is stolen?An item from the vehicle, a part of it, or the whole car when it is unoccupied.The whole vehicle whether it is occupied or unoccupied.
TypesMainly two types: petty theft and grand auto theftIt doesn’t have any type.
ChargesCharges are low.Charges are more.
InsuranceInsurance covers when you file a complaint in the police.Insurance covers when you have comprehensive coverage.

What is Auto Theft?

Auto theft, which is also known as motor vehicle theft is the theft of automobiles. The automobiles include cars, jeeps, vans, trucks, and every other type of automobile.

Auto theft has many types according to the circumstances as what is exactly stolen and for what. There are mainly two types: petty theft and grand theft auto.

Petty theft is when an item from the car is stolen, any part of the car is stolen. And when the car is taken for a time and then returned, this is called joyriding. It is also petty theft.

The charges of petty theft are low. And the grand theft auto is mentioned below.

Auto theft is very common. According to the statistics, the theft of vehicles causes losses of millions of euros. One vehicle is stolen every 35 minutes. Mostly, cars are stolen.

Many countries have fixed an amount to distinguish the type of theft. For example, in California, if the theft is under 950$, it is a petty theft while if the theft is above it, it is grand theft auto.

The punishment of the crime is decided on the type of theft as well. Petty theft is charged as a misdemeanor and is punishable by up to one year in prison.

What is Grand Theft Auto?

Grand theft auto is a type of auto theft. It is called grand because it involves a higher level of theft. Auto theft is considered as grand theft auto when the whole vehicle is stolen.

There can be two types in the grand theft auto as well. It is based on whether the car or the vehicle is occupied or unoccupied.

If the vehicle is occupied and then the criminal has stolen the car by forcing the occupants, it is called carjacking, the hijacking of a vehicle. And it is an offense considered under grand theft auto.

Grand theft auto is a more punishable crime than petty theft. Grand theft auto is typically charged as a felony as the vehicle is taken without the consent of the owner.

The crime is offensive and is punishable by years in jail, according to the price of the vehicle. Like if the vehicle is priced above $65,000, the criminal will face an additional one year in jail.

Although, in some states, every theft related to an automobile is considered as a grand theft auto and the punishment is fixed. In states like these, the terms auto theft and grand theft auto are the same.

Main Differences Between Auto Theft And Grand Theft Auto

  1. Auto theft is the stealing of cars which includes many types. Grand Theft Auto is a type of it.
  2. Auto theft includes stealing only a part or stealing the vehicle for some time. Grand theft auto is stealing of the whole vehicle for selling its parts or using it for another crime.
  3. Auto theft is considered when the car is stolen when unoccupied while for grand theft auto is considered when the car is stolen, either way, occupied or unoccupied.
  4. Auto theft also includes when something from the car is stolen. For being the grand theft auto the vehicle should be stolen.
  5. The charges for auto theft are less while the charges and punishment of grand theft auto are more.


Auto Theft is the stealing of a vehicle that can be a car, SUV, jeep, van, etc. There is a different kind of theft in an automobile theft under different circumstances.

And so there are many types of auto theft. One of them is grand auto theft which is the most common of all.

Grand auto theft as the name suggests is the grandest of all the thefts. And so the felony charges are high. Grand theft auto includes theft of the whole vehicle to sell its part or to use it in another crime.

The key difference is that when the loss due to the theft is bigger, then the theft is grand theft auto. Otherwise, it is petty theft.

And bigger theft means stealing a car for selling its part or using it for another crime. Also, when the car is taken without consent when it is occupied.


  1. https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/cyber.2020.0049
  2. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=EwoBBAAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PP1&dq=+Grand+Theft+Auto+&ots=TGw3_XV6Hh&sig=xF4AZ3mlQ-F8fAYQHhVo5vheFDw
  3. http://www.gamestudies.org/0302/frasca/
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