Liability of the stolen item
Question: I was asked the following questions
If a thief steals an item of high sentimental value like a family heirloom and destroys it, would he be liable for compensation beyond the market value to make up for the loss of the sentimental value?
What about a case of theft of a rental item causing potential profit to be lost. Is the thief liable for that loss of profits?
ﺑﺴﻢ اﷲ اﻟﺮﺣﻤﻦ اﻟﺮﺣﯿﻢ
Regarding the liability of the stolen item, there are a few principles that one should keep in mind: 1) If the item which was stolen still exists, then it would be obligatory to return that very item to its owner. 2) If the item was destroyed and it’s equivalent (that which is identical to it) is available, then one should offer that similar item to the one from whom the item was stolen; e.g. a person stole a chair whose match is available in stores. The chair which stole was destroyed, hence he compensates the owner by purchasing a new chair and giving it to him. 3) If the item was destroyed and its equivalent is unavailable in the market, then it’s market value, at the time of the theft, shall be given to the owner of the stolen item. On the basis thereof, it would not be necessary for you to pay more than the market value, however, you may do so of your own free will. It is
advised that you seek pardon from the family and express your remorse over their loss. Try to make amends for the adverse, emotional effects that ensued from the theft, by any means possible.
Regarding your second question, the thief will only be liable for the stolen rental item (based upon the above-mentioned principles), and not the loss of profits.
اﻟﻤﺼﺎدر اﻟﻤﻮﺳﻮﻋﺔ اﻟﻔﻘﻬﯿﺔ اﻟﻜﻮﯾﺘﯿﺔ
اﻟﺒﻨﺎﯾﺔ ﺷﺮح اﻟﻬﺪاﯾﺔ؛ اﻟﻨﺎﺷﺮ: دار اﻟﻜﺘﺐ اﻟﻌﻠﻤﯿﺔ - ﺑﯿﺮوت، ﻟﺒﻨﺎن
رد اﻟﻤﺤﺘﺎر ﻋﻠﻰ اﻟﺪر اﻟﻤﺨﺘﺎر؛ اﻟﻨﺎﺷﺮ: دار اﻟﻔﻜﺮ-ﺑﯿﺮوت
اﻟﻌﻨﺎﯾﺔ ﺷﺮح اﻟﻬﺪاﯾﺔ؛ اﻟﻨﺎﺷﺮ: دار اﻟﻔﻜﺮ اﻟﻔﺘﺎوى اﻟﻬﻨﺪﯾﺔ؛ اﻟﻨﺎﺷﺮ: دار اﻟﻔﻜﺮ
And Allah ﺗﻌﺎﻟﻰ knows best
Written by Shaykh Mohammad Ahsan Osmani