I was used to the verb klauen for steal, but to day I heard the word beklauen in a sentence (in passive mode to be more precise), and I was wondering:

  1. Is this a real word or just something they use in some places in Germany?
  2. Are there any differences between both of them? Any small emphasis or details that anyone is aware of?
  1. Beklauen is a real word and known to every German.
  2. Yes, there is a difference. You can (etwas) klauen, but you do jemanden beklauen.


Ich habe schon einmal geklaut. (intransitiv)

Morgen werde ich Brötchen klauen. (transitiv)

Der Bäcker wurde (von mir) beklaut.


  • (etwas) klauen = to steal (something)
  • jemanden beklauen = to steal from someone

Of course, you can use klauen with the prefix be- as in jemand beklauen, but the use is relatively rare. Man sagt: Man hat mir das Fahrrad geklaut. I don't have situations in mind where I really would use beklauen. And klauen is familiar style.

  • 4
    It might be colloquial, but stehlen / bestehlen works exactly the same.
    – Ingmar
    Jan 9 '15 at 6:41
  • If you talk about SOMEONE, 'beklauen' works as the shortest sentence, for example: "Wurde er beklaut?" rather than "Hat jemand bei ihm geklaut?"
    – äüö
    Jan 9 '15 at 9:09

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