Does a Thief Deserve to Die?

Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about thieves and how much they cause the cost of living to increase no matter where you live. Insurance companies hike up premiums when you drive a desirable car. We spend hundreds of dollars per year on home security just trying to keep our own things inside our own homes. People can’t even swipe their cards in peace without worrying about someone trying to make an easy buck off stealing their identity.

A Missing House

One of the reasons I’ve been so focused on thievery lately is because my tiny-home-to-be will be movable. This seemed like the absolute best solution so that if California comes back on my radar, I load that puppy up and tow it right back to the desert town that won my heart in 2019.

But, can you imagine going to the store and coming home to find that someone else has already done the honors of towing your rig for you? Insurance could replace the rig, no doubt. But there’s no replacing the Black King of my household who might be left onboard. Cats, after all, do not take kindly to car rides.

A Stolen Phone

Like most people, I have encountered thieves before, and it left a bad taste in my mouth. The time that stands out most to me occurred less than a year before I left Jamaica. I had adopted a big, black pooch for my protection and used to take him running with me on weekend mornings.

However, one morning, my friend and I planned a route that a pitbull was on. The dog was vicious, unchained and was not in a fenced yard. The last thing I wanted was for him to attack my poor labrador retriever who wouldn’t hurt a fly, even if size made him look otherwise.

That morning, we ran all the way to the end of our neighborhood and then worked our way back. The return trip was uphill, so eventually, we slowed our pace to a temporary walk. Halfway up the hill, we encountered a thief. My friend was using her phone and apparently, it caught his eye.

He threatened her with a knife and told her to give him her phone. I was about six feet away from her and could have run off, but this was my friend. I stayed and waited patiently for him to approach me. All the while, I was contemplating if I could shove him off the wall to our left. I stood close enough to the edge to weigh my options.

When he asked for my phone, I didn’t reply. I was still calculating the possibility of throwing him off the edge without him pulling me over, as then, we would both die. Meanwhile, he had a knife to my throat and my friend was screaming at me to give up the phone. I reached over his head and threw it down the hill so he had to go get it, giving us time to get away.

That was my last straw with Jamaica, really. Thieves are one of our biggest problems on the island, whether they’re putting a knife to your throat or scamming you out of your money on the phone. There are only a few bad apples doing this, but they make such a career out of it that no one is left unaffected.

Reporting the Thief

When I reported the incident to the police, the officer shook his head and sighed. “We’ve been getting multiple reports of this young man,” he said. “Didn’t you have pepper spray?”

“Pepper spray is illegal,” I reminded him.

He scoffed at that. “Next time, bring pepper spray. If you haven’t used it for malicious purposes, no one is going to arrest you because you have some pepper spray in your purse or on your keys as a woman.”

After a pause, I confessed, “I really contemplated pushing him off that wall.”

The officer brightened. “I really wish you had,” he said. “It would have done us a nice favor. No more women getting held up on the streets.”

After I left the police station, I bought pepper spray and kept it on my person at all times, but I never went for another run through my neighborhood again. I joined a gym instead.

A Dying Thief

Well, while ruminating about thievery and thieves, I came across a video that’s been circulating on Jamaican Twitter. I won’t include it here because it’s graphic. The story behind the video is that a high school student was on her way to school when a man grabbed her purse and ran off. She chased him, caught up with him, took her phone, and stabbed him.

When the video starts, you hear people in the background discussing what happened and commending the young lady’s bravery for going after him. The man is lying in a pool of his own blood. He is not dead, but he’s disoriented and struggling to move.

The police arrive before the ambulance and decide it is better to rush him to the hospital themselves — a common practice in Jamaica when the ambulance doesn’t get there in time. One officer asks the people gathered around to assist with getting the man onto the bed of the pickup truck.

The group shares the consensus that he should be left to die and deserves no help. The officer begs them to give the man a chance. One replies that they would rather kick him in the face than help him into the pickup truck.

A Cold Heart?

I won’t lie. I felt no sympathy for the man. I do believe that stabbing him was a hell of an escalated response from a student for a stolen phone. In fact, one might argue that a person’s life isn’t worth a cellphone. But, what if it’s a thief’s life?

When I was in high school, there was a news report of a young woman who was using her phone when a man tried to steal it. She was speaking to someone on the phone when he appeared before her. She hung up, threw it on the ground and stepped on it, breaking it.

“If I can’t have it, you can’t have it either,” she said. The man stabbed her to death. I don’t know if the police ever discovered who he was or if he was ever found.

I think about these incidents sometimes, and about the general over-engineered precautions women have to take to protect ourselves from other people’s greed. Coveting our phones and purses and cars and even our bodies. As the “weaker” sex, we are bad men’s favorite targets.

So, when a thief is lying in a pool of his own blood and rolling around like a helpless newborn, after victimizing a young schoolgirl, I have a really hard time conjuring up an ounce of sympathy for his predicament.

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22 thoughts on “Does a Thief Deserve to Die?

  1. I consider myself pretty mellow and nonviolent, but in addition to having gone through a home robbery on more than one occasion, I was also privy to a recent story where burglar(s) broke in and killed a child’s pet because it was (most likely) barking, etc. at the burglar. That pretty much erased any sort of vague sympathy I originally would have for people in difficult circumstances who feel they have to resort to theft to make ends meet.

    1. I’m so sorry to hear that, Willow! If at all possible, I strongly recommend looking into a home security system. It’s about $15 per month with SimpliSafe which is what I plan to use when I move out in a few months.

      Who kills a child’s pet?? My goodness! These people have no conscience! I don’t know how anyone moves past that feeling of having their home violated. That’s traumatising!

      1. Well, the place I live in now (city/state) is pretty rural, where if a big truck even goes by, it’s big excitement for the neighbourhood…ROFL!

      2. LoL! Sometimes that’s the best. The crime rates in those areas are always so low.

  2. Well that depressed TF out of me! But sadly it is just a slice of life in the world today and it makes me both angry and afraid! Should a thief die? No.. but I can totally understand in the heat of getting robbed or after having been robbed wanting to break various body parts of the thief. Sigh…

  3. It is a challenging moral situation, especially being on the end that’s required to patch them up. I just try to forget what they do/did and focus on whatever is currently wrong with them, and hope our flawed justice system manages to deliver as well.

  4. Does a thief deserve to die? It’s certainly a debatable one. I was pretty mad after my mum’s house got broken into and ransacked. I’d like to see them suffer. They know full well what they’re doing so they cant claim ignorance or hardship as an excuse. On the other hand, if a bus was to run them over one day… well that wouldn’t affect me one bit.

    1. I personally think there are some people in life we can do without. Thieves are one of them. We can either do without them through changed behaviour or…well…a bus isn’t a bad idea.

  5. if you are going to carry pepper spray or any other type of protection, it has to ready to use and not in your purse where you cant get to it when it is really needed.

    does the thief deserve to die? does the victim deserve to die by not giving in to the demands of the thief? i guess if the thief was willing to kill for the item, then i guess he should be willing to die for trying to get it.

    society places people into jail and even kills them for crimes. this was to make people not do crimes. yet people still do crimes and when caught do the time. yet most are not discouraged from the life of crime.

    have i been the victim of a crime? yes. were they caught? not that im aware of.

    one risks harm even when confronted with a thief and giving into their demands.

    i have no simple answers. im glad you escaped unharmed in your encounter with a thief.

    1. Thanks for chiming in, Buddy! When I bought the pepper spray, I kept it in my hand with the safety pin out so I could spray on demand. I put it back in my purse once I was in public transportation.

      I agree with what you said here that if someone is willing to kill someone to take something then they must be willing to die for trying to take it.

      That sounds like fair play to me, but even more fair would have been for them to earn their own assets and leave people’s things alone. I will never understand the entitlement some people have to other people’s things.

  6. This is a good question to consider. It comes up when police shoot people (“Well they’re just punks who are where they’re not supposed to be”), when a homeowner shoots an intruder, and when someone invokes one of those “stand your ground” laws. I don’t have any sympathy with thieves, especially the guy targeting a schoolgirl. But I don’t believe in the death penalty either. While I might have cheered if you had thrown that guy off the wall, on sober thought, I can’t think he deserved death.

    1. Police are shooting people for no reason these days, so I’ll exclude them from this. Police brutality and abuse of power is a separate issue that really needs to be addressed.

      However, I do think it’s ridiculous that if someone trespasses on your property or breaks into your home and they die while you’re defending your home, you might be liable. They weren’t supposed to be there in the first place.

      As for the guy, I wouldn’t have had any second thoughts about pushing him off the wall if it hadn’t been for the fact that he might have pulled me down with him.

      I wouldn’t say thieves deserve the death penalty though. That’s different, to me, than them dying in the act of committing a crime.

      1. That’s a good point about dying in the act of committing a crime. Most states do not hold homeowners liable for shooting intruders. There was a case around here recently where a guy shot two would-be burglars and was arrested for an unregistered handgun. He ended up not getting in much trouble, though. I can’t judge anyone for killing a criminal in the act, because it might be you or them.

      2. I’ve seen a few instances where property owners got in trouble when burglars and other trespassers got injured whether by their hands or hazards on the property. As a matter of fact, the criminals had the nerve to sue, and even worse, they won. Hopefully, these are just one off instances!

    1. You hit the nail right on the head, Peter! Sometimes, when you hear the genius ways they found loopholes in the system or planned their attacks, it’s astounding that they never think to put any of that to legitimate use.

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