"הן גנבו לו את המדליות."
Translation:They stole his medals.
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Here we see again The lamed of disadvantage which we first saw in Ha-kelev sheli akhal li et shiurei ha-bayit My dog ate my homework. This lamed implies that something was done without permission or against one’s will, so this is a little different than “Hen ganvu et ha-medaliot shelo,
the the same way that “I told her not to touch it but she went and messed it up” is different than a simple “I told her not to touch it but she messed it up.”
Not sure where you got that this lamed is about something done without someone's permission. This is just a way to express this idea in Hebrew. הם גנבו את המדליה שלו and הם גנבו לו את המדליה mean exactly the same thing, the latter being much more common and more natural when speaking.
I can only see he wrote:
"marks the person for or against whom an action is directed."
And that is correct. But, there is no mention of something being done without someone's permission or against one's will, like you wrote. It's a simple expression of an action being done to someone. And saying הם גנבו לו is more natural than saying הם גנבו את ... שלו. There is nothing sinister behind those constructions.