Spray bottles or squirt guns can work well to get your point across. Yes, it's an aversive, but very mild. The dog can make a choice here. The breeder I got my current boy from used a spray bottle to good effect, and as a result I have the best Basenji I have ever owned in terms of house manners. He doesn't destroy anything, and doesn't even get into tissue.
There is no question that aversives work, and work well if timed correctly. Nature trains with aversives and so do bitches, for that matter. I see no harm in it. When positive training gets the results you want, it's the best way to go, but when you are struggling with a problem that isn't responding to what you are doing, it's time to consider something else. Stealing is potentially harmful to the dog and needs to be controlled.