From Longman Dictionary of Contemporary Englishthiefthief /θiːf/ ●●○ noun (plural thieves /θiːvz/) [countable] SCCSTEALsomeone who steals things from another person or place → theft, burglar, robber Thieves broke into the offices and stole some computer equipment.a car/jewel etc thief They were nothing but petty thieves (=thieves who steal small things). → be (as) thick as thieves at thick1(12)THESAURUSthief someone who steals things from a person or placeThe thief grabbed her handbag and ran off down the street.Car thieves are operating in this area.burglar someone who goes into houses, offices etc to steal thingsBurglars broke into the house and took a computer worth £1,000.Police believe the burglar got in through the kitchen window.robber someone who steals from banks, offices, houses etc, especially using threats or violencea gang of bank robbersan armed robber (=a robber with a gun)shoplifter someone who takes things from shops without paying for them, especially by hiding them in their clothes or in a bagThe store has installed hidden cameras to catch shoplifters.pickpocket someone who steals from people’s pockets, especially in a crowded public placeLook out for pickpockets in busy tourist areas.mugger a thief who violently attacks someone in the street and robs them The mugger punched him in the face and tried to steal his wallet.joyrider someone who steals a car and drives it very fast for funPolice pursued the teenage joyriders across three counties.looter someone who breaks into shops or homes and steals things, after there has been a natural disaster, a war, or a violent protestPolice chiefs have warned that looters will be shot. bandit a member of an armed group of thieves who travel around attacking people in country areasThe village was attacked by a gang of bandits.poacher someone who hunts animals, birds etc illegally on other people’s landTheir job is to prevent poachers from killing the elephants.
Examples from the Corpusthief• Thieves took a marble statue from the church sometime last night.• She accused me of being a thief and a liar.• But the Colonel was more than a thief of funds.• a car thief• Warning! Car thieves are operating in this area.• Elle Folk are great thieves of dough and other food, and are strange-looking indeed.• Unfortunately, most would probably become the fiefs of thieves and warlords.• These were the zeks - they might be killers or thieves or rapists or parasites or hooligans.• Colin Fountain says they've taken measures to stop thieves getting in.• All I could think was how brave the thief was, or how desperate.• In most cases the thieves targeted cars which had been left with bags or other valuables clearly visible.• The thieves had been careful not to leave any fingerprints.• Well, all archaeologists were thieves, of a sort.petty thieves• Habitual petty thieves and drug addicts dumped on top of their already bulging caseload become their newest clients.• Most burglaries are the work of petty thieves on the look our for an easy opportunity.Origin thief Old English theof