General Question

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

If someone decides they need to steal out of necessity, how long until necessity drives them to rob?

Asked by Captain_Fantasy (11416 points ) April 26th, 2010 from iPhone

If you can steal without consequence, what’s to stop the escalation of that activity?

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14 Answers

Trillian's avatar

Only the individual’s character.

Coloma's avatar

I don’t view stealing food for survivals sake on the same continuem as theft or robbery born of dark intent and sheer malicious greed.

Stealing food, blankets, anything pertinent to actual physical survival cannot really be considered ‘stealing’ IMO.

If I had a starving child you bet I would do whatever it took to feed my baby.

Cruiser's avatar

If you were able to steal without consequence there would not be much in the way to stop them unless they tried it at my house. Stealing is a crime not matter what the circumstance and for better or for worse there are laws that should handle the matter appropriately.

wonderingwhy's avatar

As @Trillian said. Also, why rob and greatly increase the risk confrontation and being caught (thinking mugging), not to mention the consequences if caught, when you can steal (thinking empty house, closed business) and minimize the risks.

CodePinko's avatar

I think @Trillian means the individual’s lack of character.

Coloma's avatar


I agree, but…I do think theft born of desperation should be treated more leniantly that theft from an antisocial perspective.

Stealing a loaf of bread is not the same as stealing a car.

Like everything it is a matter of degree.

I don’t think we can label someone character deficiant under circumstances of great duress.

Cruiser's avatar

@Coloma Still stealing a loaf of bread is indeed different than stealing a car but it still is a crime and fortunately our legal system will usually view it within the context of the severity and motivating circumstances of the criminal act. That being said I do believe there are options available to most people in desperate need to not have to steal bread or basic necessities. Petty crimes are IMO more often crimes of opportunity and or convenience and will do so until they get caught.

Coloma's avatar

True of course, however, personally speaking I would not attempt to prosecute someone who was stealing from my garden if they were desperate.

I am not advocating turning our backs on crime, at the same time I tend towards the attitude of ’ they must need it more than I do’ in certain circumstances. :-)

thriftymaid's avatar

The law only recognizes the necessity defense in a very narrow way. No one defendant is likely to be successful repeatedly.

Coloma's avatar

No, repetition cancels out short term desperation.

I just like to be veeeery careful about jumping on the moral high horse.

tinyfaery's avatar

I don’t see the connection. Just because someone steals does not mean that they will eventually increase their criminal activity.

eden2eve's avatar

That’s unpredictable. Not all people who steal are sufficiently doing it to steal a loaf of bread, as has been discussed here in other threads, some people do it for the thrill, or because they want things that aren’t essential by any stretch of the imagination. I know a few people who do it for these reasons. The unfortunate thing is that those people are being caught, and given just a slap on the wrist. Even when they don’t pay their fines, they are not incarcerated, so far at least. This can’t help them to develop any fear of future risk, and that concerns me.

That being said, we don’t know which or how many of those people are willing to take the risks associated with robbing. Those are two very different activities, with very different levels of risk and punishment.

Trillian's avatar

@CodePinko I meant what I said. If someone had to steal food to feed their children, which is how I read the intent of the question, that would not mean that they would steal designer shoes for the hell of it.
There have been societies that planted an extra two rows of corn along the road that all were able to eat from without being considered a thief.
This is actually similar to a question asked that gauges cognitive development and the answers given can allow the questioner to determine where along the developmental scale the person is. There is no right or wrong answer, just a determination of what the questioner thinks is right or wrong and why.

Coloma's avatar

Where I live I always plany extra for the wildlife, one tomato for me, one for the raccoons and the deer. lol

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