he nicked the purse/phone/car
A nick can be a small cut or a notch in something. You could 'nick yourself' meaning cut yourself with a knife or a blade. You might make a nick in a plant or tree in order to take a cutting. 'The nick' is also a British slang word for 'prison'. "He spent five years in the nick for possession of drugs." To 'nick' something can mean to make an incision in it with a blade or knife and it can also mean to steal. "He nicked himself several times when shaving for the first time." "She nicked a number of notes from the till and put them quickly into her pocket." You might also come across the expression 'in the nick of time' which means to do something just on time.