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What is the risk in the event of flight concealment?

Verified 25 July 2019 - Directorate for Legal and Administrative Information (Prime Minister)

The concealment of theft is the possession or purchase of something (telephone, furniture...) that we know from a theft. The person guilty of concealment risks the same penalties as the thief.

The concealment of theft is the possession, transmission, sale or purchase of a thing that we know from a flight.. Example: a person buys a mobile phone knowing that he came from a pickpocketing.

The concealment is different from the complicity of theft. A person who keeps the spoils of a burglary without having participated in it is guilty of concealment, not complicity of theft. after the commission on theft.

It is also a case of receiving the proceeds from the sale of what we know to be stolen.

The hold does not apply to a bona fide person who purchases a second-hand item thinking that it belongs to the reseller.

A person who has purchased an item that has been found stolen may be considered in good faith if he proves that he did not know the illegal origin of the item. Example: if the product was packaged and the seller submitted false invoices.

The buyer's good faith will be examined during the investigation or trial..


one website list some objects reported as stolen, but not yet found by the police (non-exhaustive list). You can check that the item you want to buy is not from a theft.

The conceal is punished by 5 years in prison and €375,000 fine.

If the initial robbery is punished more severely, the recorder may face the same penalties as the thief.

For example, for a robbery with serious violence, the thief and the receiver could be sentenced to 7 years in prison. In addition, the receiver may be fined more than €375,000 up to half the value of the goods collected.

In all cases, the perpetrator of the concealment may be ordered to compensate the victims jointly with the perpetrator of the theft.

Even if the thief has not been identified or arrested, the thief may be sentenced for concealment.

The deadline prescription flight concealment is 6 years. This period shall begin to run from the day on which the receiver no longer holds the thing.

Filing of complaints

The victim may lodge a complaint against the perpetrator. If she does not know her identity, she can lodge a complaint against X. The lodging of a complaint can be done even if the perpetrator is abroad.

On site

You must go to a police station or the gendarmerie of your choice.

Who shall I contact

The police or gendarmerie are obliged to register the complaint.

The complaint is then transmitted to the public prosecutor to decide on the follow-up (investigation, classification without follow-up...).

If you do not know the author of the facts, you can fill out a pre-complaint online before moving.

You will then get an appointment and the police or gendarmes will already have the elements of your complaint when you arrive.

Online Pre-Complaint

By mail

You can lodge a complaint directly with the public prosecutor. We need to send free paper letter the court of the place of the offense or the place of residence of the offender.

The letter must include the following:

  • Civil status and full contact information (address and telephone number) of the complainant
  • Detailed account of the facts, date and place of the offense
  • Assumed author's name if you know him (otherwise the complaint will be filed against X)
  • Names and addresses of potential witnesses to the offense
  • Description and provisional or final injury estimate
  • Evidence: medical certificates, work stoppages, various invoices, findings .....
  • Willingness to take part in civil proceedings

Make a complaint to the public prosecutor

You can send your complaint by registered letter with acknowledgement of receipt or by simple letter. You can also file your complaint directly at the court reception. In all cases, a receipt will be given to you as soon as the public prosecutor's office has registered your complaint.

The victim has 6 years to file a complaint.

Return of stolen item

Depending on the good faith or bad faith of the buyer, the steps to be taken by the owner for the restitution are different.

Good faith buyer

A person who has purchased an item that has been found stolen may be considered in good faith if he proves that he did not know the illegal origin of the item (e.g. if the product was packaged and the seller submitted false invoices).

If less than 3 years have elapsed between the theft and the discovery of the stolen item, the lawful owner may claim the property from the purchaser in good faith. If the purchase was made in a fair, in a market (not an attic void or flea), in a public sale, from a merchant selling other similar items, the real owner will have to repay the buyer in good faith.

The rightful owner can take legal action to claim the restitution of his property and assess the amount of the refund to the buyer in good faith.

The court having jurisdiction shall depend on the sums involved in the dispute.

  • For a dispute less than or equal to €10,000, it is the local court or the judicial court.
  • For litigation greater than €10,000, it's the court.
Bad faith buyer

If the buyer is acting in bad faith, i.e. he knows the fraudulent origin of the property, the rightful owner may at any time request the return of his property, either during the investigation or at the end of the trial.

The buyer in bad faith may be sued for receiving and will not receive any refund.

You must use the form and send it to court.

Application for the return of an object placed under the control of a court


The real owner can also ask for damages to the dealer of his property, if he proves that he was aware of his fraudulent origin.

Please note

one website list some stolen items found by police and whose real owners are unknown.