Bitch on the Blog

April 9, 2014

Great train robbery

Filed under: Errors,Ethics — bitchontheblog @ 15:49

John, a man with a heart of gold, has surprised me. He related on his blog how he shopped a shop lifter. He got loads of replies, mainly of the self righteous, with only myself and a couple of other commentators questioning his action.

That post and comments on the issue has stuck in my mind. I do not condone stealing. Not at all. However, there is stealing and there is stealing. If someone hit an old lady over the head and made off with her hand bag I’d be the first to run after him. If, and when, I observe someone slipping a tin of sardines into their bag what’s it to me? Nothing. May they get away with it. To steal at that level smells of despair. Down and out. If I see someone letting their child devouring a bunch of grapes or a banana whilst doing the rest of their shopping I smile (inwardly). It’s not what I would do (mainly because I prefer to wash my grapes first) but what harm does it do?

Let’s remind ourselves, and maybe that is why John’s piece left such a bad taste in my mouth, that there are, I believe, countries in this world who will chop off your hand if you so much as “steal” a loaf of bread. That’s right. Fit the punishment to the crime.

Let’s put it this way: Kindness first, justice second. And sometimes there is justice in kindness.


PS I am aware that this a hugely controversial subject. Rest assured that any of you who do not agree with me will not be stoned



  1. I don’t know whether you’ve ever heard “The Fields of Athenry” where a man stole a bit of corn to feed his child and was banished to the – then – outposts of indentured slavery of the encampments of Australia. Forever. leaving said child and starving mother of child. Your post put me in mind of that.
    Self righteousness exhausts me. As you say, stealing a tin of sardines smacks of desperation. I’d say get after the wanker bankers if you really need to address stealing.

    Comment by wisewebwoman — April 9, 2014 @ 16:46 | Reply

    • On your recommendation I have just listened to “The Field of Athenry” (you tube, naturally). What is it with Irish folk music that makes one well up with emotion?

      Go after the bankers? Sure. The last week these isles have been gripped with one Maria Miller. MP. Culture Minister. A cheat. An expenses account fraud. Supported by British Prime Minister, David Cameron. She resigned this morning. No contrition. Nothing. I rarely feel disdain for anyone. She has got mine by the bucket load. Let’s go and steal a tin of sardines, WWW. See you in jail.


      Comment by bitchontheblog — April 9, 2014 @ 17:19 | Reply

      • Maria Miller was found not to have committed fraud. Also she put her hands up to her mistake and I hear that the Commisoioner for parliamentary Standards( who wrote the intiial report) jhas admitted that she got the figures wrong and that the parlaimentary group were correct. I am surprised that you have been conned by the press. (Along with the (not so) great British public. )

        For the first time today I heard the personal statement by the now ex minister. It was just what “it says on the tin”, a personal statement noting more or less. I actually admired her brevity . Would that more of us, myself included, were more prone to such.

        As for Cameron…. he is, unlike so many of us so keen to rush to judgement, cognisant of all the facts in the case. The report is 100 pages long so obviously we are not in receipt of the whole truth. I was surprised to read that The telegraph had published this little gem back on February 14th

        “Some MPs who have read the report believe that Mrs Miller’s claims do not amount to a deliberate attempt to break the rules. Others believe that her claims were in fact in keeping with the expenses rules at the time. ”

        From here I do not see any kindness or justice in this particular case. Given that this woman apparently has elderly parents living with her as well as her children and that ( I have not verified this to my satisfaction) there has been a suggestion that the parents suffer some form of handicap.

        Spleen vented.

        Comment by magpie11 — April 9, 2014 @ 18:04 | Reply

        • I am sorry, Magpie: The woman is a fraud. How do you explain away tens of thousands of pounds? She did not put up her hand to her “mistake”. It’s not a “mistake” taking out a mortgage, upping it subsequently. Under false pretences. Elderly parents or not. And I do take offence at you saying I am “conned” by the press. No one can con me. Most certainly not the press. I am an investigative journalist’s daughter. I know the tricks.

          You admire Miller’s ‘brevity’. What brevity? Like when she said in that pathetic resignation letter of hers:

          “It is with great regret that I have decided that I should tender my resignation as a member of the Cabinet”. Yes, a lesson how to contort yourself into knots when you are down the plughole. How much more stylish and to the point if she had said: “It is with regret that I tender my resignation.”

          Let’s leave it there.

          Very angry,

          Comment by bitchontheblog — April 9, 2014 @ 18:42 | Reply

  2. It is a controversial subject and I shall offer no comment on the issue other than to say that very often the context is missed in taking a moral high ground.

    Comment by Rummuser — April 9, 2014 @ 17:15 | Reply

    • Please do see my reply to WWW, a woman who never shies away from the most difficult.

      You mention “context”. Indeed. Context. So often missed.


      Comment by bitchontheblog — April 9, 2014 @ 17:23 | Reply

  3. Apparently many shoplifters do so as a result of some mental illness: “shopping” them might just be a help to them.

    Comment by magpie11 — April 9, 2014 @ 18:14 | Reply

    • Sorry, Magpie, I am not going to go there. There is no mental illness when someone is starving and desperate. And “shopping” them will most certainly not help. Soon someone will tell me that if you don’t have roof over your head you might as well break the law. Nice lovely cell. Sure. Why not. Better than a bridge.


      Comment by bitchontheblog — April 9, 2014 @ 18:44 | Reply

      • I did not mention starving or desperate people… in fact I deliberately satyed away from that aspect. I was seeking to point out another, previously unmentioned possibility. One which I have actually been involved with. As a result of “being shopped” people have been known to receive help for their previoulsy undiagnosed mental illness. Not everyone who steals from shops is in fact starving and desperate.

        Too often we ignore the facts and results of mental illness……. eversince Bliar and co we have seen the increasing diminishing of the mental health services in this country and a concurrent increase in the tendency to either ignore it or , even worse, deny it.

        Comment by magpie11 — April 10, 2014 @ 14:07 | Reply

        • I believe I understand where you are coming from, Magpie. However, I have little knowledge to either endorse or dispute what you are saying with regards to how mental health is dealt with in this country (or anywhere).

          All I do know, and it saddens me: Doctors are too ready to throw pills at what are perfectly normal happenings in life. In the wake of which some people will turn into zombies. Yes, people will fly over the cookoo’s nest and crashland. It’s a disgrace.

          Secondly, possibly repeating myself: You can’t medicate/medicalize the ‘human condition’. Remember the days when we had the ‘village idiot’? He was part and parcel of a community. A vital part.


          Comment by bitchontheblog — April 10, 2014 @ 17:23 | Reply

          • I don’t believe that the village idiot was always treated kindly… far from it. Often these different people were misunderstood and became the butt of many jokes.

            Mental ill-health has many and varied forms and is much better understood today and yet there are huge steps that still need to be made. It intrigues me to understand what these perfectly normal happenings in life actually are. Is it perfectly normal to be so afraid of travel, the outside world or other people that one has never been on a bus or train whilst living in the urban conurbation that is London? Is it a perfectly normal happening in life to have such a low opinion of oneself that one mutilates ones body? I doubt it. Imagine the effect upon the man who walks into the bedroom to find his wife with blood streaming from the breasts she has ripped with a craft knife…… and that effect …..after, possibly years after, he has bound her her with bandages, called an ambulance and taken care of their children and then tried to understand what it was that precipitated her action and others of a similar ilk?

            Mental illness exists.

            The old lady with dementia or just who is just plain lonely who steals from the supermarket need help as much as the family provider who does not have enough to buy the next meal….. but the person who steals just because he or she can, because the supermarket makes it so easy… what of them?

            Nothing is ever so monochrome…

            Comment by magpie11 — April 10, 2014 @ 19:07 | Reply

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