An ore thief is a player who takes ore from a jettisoned container (Jet-can) without permission from its owner. Because it is much more efficient to mine into a Jet-can and haul it back in one large load than it is to mine small amounts, many miners choose to leave their ore in this way. An ore thief can freely remove this ore from the can and take it as their own.
As of Red Moon Rising, ore thieves are criminally flagged when removing ore from a can that does not belong to someone in their gang or corporation, allowing a certain degree of retribution for the victim. However, this has itself become a poisoned chalice -- many ore thieves are in fact looking for a fight. The ore thief steals from a can, and is flagged. The miner or his allies may retaliate and fire on the thief. At this point the thief may legally return fire without repercussions.
As mining ships are seldom capable of excelling at both mining and combat at the same time, the main danger to the thief (usually in a combat-spec ship) will be from members of the miner's corporation arriving in combat-ready ships. Its worth noting that players in NPC corporations gain no such protection and fellow members of the NPC corp do not gain aggression on the thief. For this reason, miners using Jet-cans are usually better off in a player corp that can provide combat pilots on-hand to deal with thieves.
Can-Flipping is similar to ore theft, except instead of making off with the stolen ore, the thief moves it into his own jet can. The miner can take this ore back at any time, but will of course flag himself to the initial thief (and the thieve's corporation) and can be fired upon. If the miner elects not to recover the ore the thief is able to haul it off at his leisure.
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