Our father died and left us with properties including apartments in some prime areas. We have recently noticed that some of the title deeds are missing from our father’s file of documents. We suspected our uncle and reported him to the Police. A search was conducted in his house and the police found him with title deeds hidden under his mattress. We have been surprised that Police have charged him with a minor offence of concealing the title deeds instead of stealing them. When we asked the Police why the accused has not been charged with stealing title deeds, they claimed there is no such offence in law. Is this assertion correct?
Yes, Police are right in saying that there is no offence of stealing a title deed. A title deed is not a property having any value but evidence of title to the land. It is the land which is a property having value but in law, land cannot be stolen because it is immovable. In order to charge the offence of stealing, the thing stolen should have value and should be movable. Title deed is movable but does not in itself have the value which can be quantified and written in the charge sheet. The proper offence with which your uncle can be charged is concealing a deed contrary to section 278 of the Penal Code [Cap.16 R.E 2022] as he intended to defraud you.