Why Stealing is Bad

Why is stealing a mortal sin? I wasn’t really sure, besides a vague moral feeling, until I was mugged, last week.

Now I realize: stealing reduces the value of goods for a society. 


From an evolutionary point of view it is as easy as that. After the Vikings visited a French village there was not much left except what little the Vikings couldn’t carry away. The rest was broken, spilled, burned, dead or traumatized. BUT, for humanity, the village, as a value producing entity, was worth far more than the sad plunder the Vikings dragged away.

However the French had little choice, until somebody came up with the idea of rather giving away the whole village and renaming it Normandy. Thus the Vikings didn’t destroy it all but sat back and enjoyed the fruits of their former victim’s labor. Not all ideal for the French, but it sure beats getting raped and plundered annually.


On my smaller scale some Sri Lankans climbed over the roof and into my unprotected office. They emptied a tray of gems and ran. Nobody got hurt, no window was broken, and yet the loss for Sri Lanka as a whole was much greater than the value of the stolen goods.


Without certificates, without grading reports and international sales channel those gems are now worth only a fraction of what they were with us. Sri Lanka as an exporting country has suffered a loss. Police, the avenging angels of mortal sin, should have protected their society from that loss. Forget that.


I think our bible-writing forefathers knew that for society as a whole stealing is a bad deal.


There hidden may also be the reason why international white-color crime is less dangerous than stealing somebody’s workshop tools in a small village. While the latter directly damages a small society seeking revenge, the former causes far more damage but ‘only’ to a remote and powerless entity, taxpayers or banks seeking only refunds, while the village hacks off the thieve’s hands, we read the newspaper with a shrugging sigh, hoping that a lengthy law suits ends at worst with five years of sabbatical in a comfortable one bed room, with all limbs attached. 



2 Comments on “Why Stealing is Bad”

  1. Jessica Wheeler says:

    Like many I first came to your site through gem searching and found much to delight in and despair in through your writings.
    Again, like many others, after a short amount of time, I am a devoted fan. Reading this article about the theft left me wondering if the gems have so little worth stolen (without papers of all kinds) why bother at all – or are the people so desperate and poverty stricken that even at a fraction of thier worth , the stones were still worth stealing? Is it so difficult for the theives to have forgeries of the papers made? Take care and keep writing – you are truly gifted with words – they fall together for you like streams joining with the river – flowing like the water. Take care and be well. Jessica

    • edwardbristol says:

      Jessica, thanks for your kind words.

      Of course they can re-sell them, with or without papers, but the true economic value from the country point of view (our work) was lost. What was a valuable product ready for endconsumer retail had become a mere mineral again.

      The same happens if somebody steals, say, a loved painting from your house. It was very valuable for you but the thief will only get a few dollars.

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