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john65pennington's avatar

Are there other motives for being a thief, rather than just greed?

Asked by john65pennington (29235points) April 19th, 2010

Today, the world contains thieves of all sizes, shapes and forms. thieves will steal anything for any purpose. Question: does a thief just steal for their own personal greed or are there potentially other motives involved in their stealing?

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21 Answers

holden's avatar

Have you never read Les Miserables?

jfos's avatar

1) Because they are impoverished.

2) Because they don’t want to spend money on something that they want.

3) To gain gang-related brownie points.

4) To appease a compulsion, i.e., some are addicted to stealing.

beautifulbobby193's avatar

Look at the case of Winona Ryder.

tinyfaery's avatar

Out of necessity.

Axemusica's avatar

Not sure if you’ve came across this thread @john65pennington, but you might want to check it out.

Fyrius's avatar

Other than what people have already mentioned, some people steal just for the kick of doing something they’re not supposed to do, and the thrill of risking getting caught doing it.

Your_Majesty's avatar

Most of the thief and whore do that for economic reasons. Greedy could be their minor reason.

phoebusg's avatar

another reason: Kleptomaniacs don’t need to steal – well not financially. They’re just doing it for entertainment – the rush etc. They’re psychologically addicted to the act of stealing. Some even return the loot, so long they can steal it first.

Taciturnu's avatar

Kinda with @phoebusg and @jfos- Compulsion.

holden's avatar

There are many instances of thievery and we are almost all guilty of committing it in one way or another. Plagiarism and copyright infringement are the theft in the form of taking credit for someone else’s original work, and I don’t think anyone here can say they’ve never done that. There are people who steal from the government by cheating on their taxes and justify it by saying that it was the government who was stealing from them by taking their money. People take things they find and don’t return them, and excuse themselves by saying the owner wouldn’t come back for it, or shouldn’t have been careless enough to lose it, etc. I could go on and on.

My point: you can’t really break it down into an “us vs. them” situation. We have all thieved, at one point or another.

CMaz's avatar


Captain_Fantasy's avatar

Drugs. People steal to feed their addictions every day.

I don’t buy the “out of necessity” angle. People stealing stuff in America these days are doing it because they can, not out of need.

There’s no need to steal for basic necessities because these are available through social programs.

Axemusica's avatar

Under someone’s suggestion I’ve elected to link my answer in the thread. Since futher discussion on my response leads me to believe it could be an asshole-ish response and that was not my intent and I apologize if it came off that way @john65pennington. So…

My answer can be found here

njnyjobs's avatar

@john65pennington…I can’t believe such a question is asked by you knowing full well that you’re the one who spent decades of your adult life in law-enforcement, you should be the one letting us know about this things. . . .

eden2eve's avatar

Anger, rebelliousness, entitlement, to enhance a sense of power. Envy, resenting what others have. There are many reasons, including all the ones above.

I do think that some still do it out of need. Not everyone can find access to social programs, either due to personal roadblocks, or just lack of understanding of the system. Some are too young. Mental illness might prohibit accessing programs.

Berserker's avatar

Poverty, addictions, even mental disorders like kleptomania. I was good friends with this guy some years back who just had to steal shit, all the time. He pulled fire alarms in buildings and looted the apartments when everyone went outside…thing is, he came back with pockets full of pennies and junk he had absolutely no use for. He just tossed everything after the rush.
He coulda taken TV’s, looked for money or anything of vlaue…but he was interested in the action itself, and not what he was taken.

In fact, greed and ill intentions are generally bullshit…do you honestly think that most criminals wake up in the morn and go, yessir, Imma fuckup peep’s lives!

Most of them see it as necessity, despite them knowing that it’s wrong, or not being able to see any better alternatives…maybe some are just stupid, uneducated or irresponsible, but criminals often are a reflection of our own orderly society.
I mean if I was greedy I’d start some buisness and exploit people so I could make money…not rob a gas station. The hell dude.

I honestly don’t think that most thieves are ’‘greedy’’, hell I don’t even think most of them view themselves as tragic heroes. That’s just cable TV shit.
Personally I think crime and those who commit them are so rampant because we don’t understand it. It’s very complex, and yes, some are complete assholes, but I don’t think we’ll ever get anywhere if we leave it at that.
I most certainly don’t approve of biker gangs who kidnap little girls and turn them into prostitutes or mobsters who fuck up the lives of the young with drugs, but then if I had that kinda mentality that exposes nothing but black and white, I’d probably be of the mind that those stupid kids deserve what they get for taking drugs, anyways.

I don’t know the reasons which exist for thievery, other than evident issues that even the most hardcore conservative should be able to see, like poverty and so forth, but I do know it’s a lot more complex than wanting what you can’t have.

If that was the case, all video stores round my area would have been relieved of their horror movie selections a long time ago.

Arisztid's avatar

If it came down to letting my wife starve or stealing, I would steal. This would be if I was, literally, unable to get a job, no matter how base. However, if it was just me, I would not. I would prefer to end it.

So, I would say that there are reasons to steal other than greed. Basic survival is one of them.

Others have listed other reasons. I am just answering to state the only condition under which I would steal.

Berserker's avatar

And besides there are different forms of thievery anyways…I mean I can go all instinct and say that if you don’t adapt to society and work, you won’t make money and can’t look after yourself, but the fact remains that some big rock on my finger could probably feed a whole refugee camp for two years, if anyone sees where I’m tryna go, but that’s off topic anyways so…trails off lulz

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

IMO part of the appeal for some to steal is the same why some kill, for the trill of it. Not all people kill others they hate, have a beef with or even know, they just do it for the rush, then the cat-and-mouse excitement to see if they can get away with it. I think some people steal just to see if they are smart enough to do it. That desire usually always get them caught in the end, because what is the use of pulling off the master caper if no one ever knows you did it? There is no way the world know you beat the cops unless someone knows, and that someone can flip on you getting you busted. The thought of masterminding a heist of the Crown Jewels even if you were stinking rich would be a rush because it would prove you were smarter than all the security measures and those that put them in place to keep you out. They will know they got pinched and you would know you did it but it would kill you because you could not say ”Hey, I got your jewels. I beat you” with out doing 15–30 for the bragging rights.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

Excitement and challenge.

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