What is possession of stolen property?
It is a criminal offence to have in your possession anything that you know was stolen or otherwise obtained directly or indirectly by crime. While this offence is commonly referred to as possession of stolen property, the offence is not limited to property acquired through theft. Possession of any property received as a result of any indictable offence in Canada or similar action taken outside of Canada that would be an indictable offence can be the basis for the charge.
Stolen property includes not only actual stolen items, but also indirect benefits gained from stolen items. For example, accepting money, knowing that it came from the sale of a stolen vehicle would qualify as possession of stolen property even though the money itself was not stolen. Another example of an indirect benefit of stolen property is having items that you know were purchased with a stolen or fraudulently obtained credit card.
If you are unaware that an item is stolen, purchasing or possessing the item is not illegal. Though you may have to return the property to the true owner, you are not guilty of possessing stolen property. This does not mean that you can just ignore suspicious situations or state that you do not want to know where the item came from. The Crown can make a case that based on the circumstances, you must have known that the property was stolen or that you were willfully blind to its illicit origins.