No. 666



Many years ago when I was driving a laundry truck in a rural area in the Southern part of our state, I used to stop and have lunch at one of the many mercantile stores that dotted the landscape. Quite often I would have a couple of slices of baloney cut from a long stick, the way it came packaged in those days. Then I would add a slice of hoop cheese, a pack of crackers and a soft drink to wash it down. That baloney tasted pretty good and I was making it fine until later times when they started printing the ingredients on the package and I read what was in it. As you may know, the word “baloney” also became a slang word to indicate something of poor quality or low class.
This is what I thought of a few weeks ago when I saw and heard a police officer being interviewed on a television newscast regarding a series of burglaries in a nearby community. It seems this community had experienced a rash of more than 50 petty crimes in just one neighborhood, as thieves were stealing from unlocked cars, garages and homes, and taking anything that was not nailed down. During the interview this police officer made the comment that these were “crimes of opportunity,” as the thieves were simply taking advantage of easy pickings.
When I heard her comment I said to myself, “baloney.” On the other hand, if she had said, “these were crimes of poor character,” I would have gone along with that. What she was actually doing, probably without being aware of it, was transferring the responsibility of the crime from the criminal to the property renter or owner. In other words, it was the owner’s fault that they left their car, garage or home unlocked and thieves came along and saw a beautiful opportunity to make off with their property.
A friend later told me about her sister who lives in another state. While she was at a service station bent over filling up a gas can for her lawn mower, two men in a car, going in the opposite direction, came along. One jumped out and opened the unlocked passenger side of her car and took her purse that contained her driver’s license, credit cards, Social Security card, two check books, spare keys to her house, two gift cards, and address book containing names, addresses and phone numbers of relatives and friends. As they drove away, she was screaming and trying to get a license number, but it was too late. They were gone and she was left with the task of getting all new records and trying to keep the thieves from doing her any more damage.
Again, here is my point. This lady was standing beside her own car, and did not have the other door locked. Was this just a case of another “crime of opportunity” or was it a case where parents failed to teach their children that it is wrong to steal and take another’s property? If we are to ever see a reversal of criminal activity, even petty crimes, we must place the responsibility and the blame where it really belongs, on parents who fail to teach their children right from wrong. There are many cases where parents are not around, but someone is responsible in the early days of a child’s life and, in a very real sense, we all share in that responsibility.
Here is my suggestion for those who are caught and convicted of stealing. Make it a requirement for their release, that they write “I will never steal again” 10,000 times. With 25 lines on a sheet of letter-size paper, front and back, it will only take 200 pieces of paper to carry out this plan. This person may steal again, but I can promise you one thing, they will think next time about what they are doing.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To support literacy, buy his book: “Learning, Earning & Giving Back.”)