“Recidivist, Multiple and Gang Thefts: The Transformation of the Law of Theft in Late Qing China.”
Geoffrey MacCormack, University of Aberdeen, Emeritus
The Journal of Comparative Law 10, no. 2 (2015): 455-483.
The serious problem of brigandage in the 18th and 19th centuries led to the progressive introduction of draconian legislation not just for forcible theft but even for secret theft where gangs were involved or individuals repeatedly stole. The new legislation transformed the existing law in two main ways: (i) special punishments were introduced (the cangue or attachment to a stone/iron bar), essentially replacing beating or penal servitude, and (ii) the extent of punishment no longer depended so much on the value of the goods stolen as on the number of persons involved in the theft and the number of occasions on which the same offenders had committed theft. The essay studies the legislation enacted from the middle of the 18th to the middle of the 19th century.