I noticed that in the books, there's a canon example of a Death Eater attempting to use Accio on the Invisibility Cloak, but to no avail. There's also one where Harry says "Accio Firebolt" and his broom comes flying to him

My understanding is that the spell calls the item with magic, so by all means it should have worked.

My theory is that you cannot use the spell on items not owned by you (for obvious reasons), but that it is possible to Accio literally anything (Exampled by Harry's Accio of a dictionary from Hermione).

I read in What are the rules and limits of accio spell? that concentration is absolutely necessary to cast the spell, but what sort of protection is there against a poor wizard plopping into Gringotts and saying "Accio loose Galleons" or other such things provided the wizard was concentrating hard enough, and what rules are there in the Wizarding World for theft and other petty crime from this spell?

Note Slytherincess noted in the answer that rarer items are harder to Accio, but as Galleons seem to be no big deal to some witches and wizard. This doesn't say anything about apparition or other spells though and I suspect the enchantments would be specific counters for specific spells.

Question: What are the forensics the Ministry uses for crimes involving theft with no physical evidence from the thief?

Bonus points if you have canon examples as to the Ministry's forensic techniques regarding magical miscreants!

"Alohomora locked chest with an answer..."

EDIT: I used Accio as an example, as it's the most common, but I also was hoping people would also think apparition, Alohomora, Bombarda, and other spells that a prospective thief would find useful. It's meant to be what forensics does the Ministry use, not limited to a narrow view of a single spell and what it does.

That being said, I did find the answer to the single example given in How do wizards prevent Accio-fueled robberies?

EDIT 2: I realized that I'm a bit stupid and tired at this point, and once of the words I used in the actual question was wrong. I apologize to everyone for the miscommunication.

EDIT 3: I'm not sure why the entire question wasn't read by the community, nor the edits. This will be the last edit and I will let the chips fall where they may, simply because this is getting closed votes without a full read-through.

The ENTIRE question doesn't revolve around a SINGLE SPELL. Prevention (Anti-theft devices) is COMPLETELY different from forensics (Where the deed has already been done). In one of my edits, I clarified other spells as well with Alohomora, Apparition, and Bombarda, just to name a few spells that could be used for thievery. I want to know HOW DOES THE MINISTRY CATCH PEOPLE WHO STEAL, not HOW CAN THEY BE PREVENTED.

tldr; THE ACCIO EXAMPLE IS JUST AN EXAMPLE. I will bold other things that are being glossed over. Vote as you must.

  • 1
    You closed it because you don't feel it's particularly useful rather than not being a duplicate? I'm a little confused by the logic there, but it's important to my HP fanfic in which my main character starts out dodging the Ministry but eventually gets caught. Since this is out of the scope of WB.SE, I feel this is an appropriate place to ask exactly this sort of question, as SE doesn't require questions to be useful, just non duplicated. – Anoplexian Feb 9 '16 at 18:57
  • My question is "Question: What are the consequences for crimes involving theft with no physical evidence from the thief?" and I just used Accio as an example of it. I'd like to see a broader scope of how magical crimes (specifically theft) is committed and caught in the wizarding world. The actual name was changed by a moderator. – Anoplexian Feb 9 '16 at 20:39

If a suspect is detained, it is possible to see what spells their wand has been casting as seen in The Goblet of Fire with Prior Incantato. I don't know how many spells it can reveal, but one could assume that this would be a fair way of at least gathering evidence if not quite proving guilt if an investigator can go backwards through them for a while.

Regarding what you can and can't summon, I always assumed that there were a range of spells to counter Accio. For example, an amazing magical artefact like Harry's true Invisibility Cloak would have at some point been protected against summoning. (Its status as a Deathly Hallow may protect it anyway as it could simply be too powerful to be easily whipped away from its owner). Either of these options would be sensible for Voldemort's Horcruxes. Similarly, I think many objects can be protected using a counter-spell cast pre-emptively by their owner. I think some objects have been protected and some haven't.


Theft is theft regardless of the manner in which a person used to steal. Your question is also related to this, and may help.

People are able to Accio items not belonged to them, however, there may be some sort of boundary. As stated, Death Eaters attempted to steal Harry's cloak, Harry tried to steal the Horcruxes, Harry took Madam Rosmerta's brooms, and Hermione stole Dumbledore's books. Theft is possible with this spell.

Dumbledore has also stated the following on thievery,

Thievery is not tolerated at Hogwarts, Tom. At Hogwarts you will be taught not only how to use magic, but how to control it. Do you understand me?

and as such, it can be clear that action will be taken.

The British Theft Act, 1968 states that theft (depriving one of another's possession(s)) is punishable up to seven years, and robbery (same as above with fearing or hurting life) is punishable for life in prison. Although stated in Wiki, "Like Muggle police patrols, the Magical Law Enforcement Patrol/Squad appeared to be tasked with conventional law enforcement tasks." This is of course separate from the Judicial system (if the Wiki is correct), but shows some sort Muggle-Wizard law relations.

As the Wizengamot is affiliated with the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, and the latter is affiliated somewhat with Muggle patrols, they may share some laws and bring them to the wizarding courts.

  • This doesn't say anything about how the Ministry catches the thieves though, only (still usefully) tells what is done when the perpetrator is caught. – Anoplexian Feb 9 '16 at 20:49
  • The BTA of 1968 outlines British Law, as Muggle and Magical Laws seem to be similar according to the Wiki. As they appear to be hand in hand, one may assume, (but only assume) that the Ministry may do the same. – Jake Feb 9 '16 at 23:40

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