Monday, November 14, 2016

Equality of Theft

Australia is a great country, unless you own a car. In my state of Victoria, which has about 1/3 the population of Australia at a guess, in the last financial year, July 2015 to July 2016, 41 cars were stolen every day. The figure is expected to be higher this year. Some were expensive cars, most not. Regardless, it must be horrible to have your car stolen. We have never had that experience but before we moved to The Highrise, we had our cars broken into and damaged when parked on the street.

Say someone stole our car worth $10,000 and our car wasn't insured against theft. The offender in the rare event that he or she was caught might at worst case receive a good behaviour bond if it was a first offence. Possibly just a good behaviour bond if it was a third offence with a magistrate sternly waving his(sic) finger at the miscreant.

Yet if I stole $10,000 from my bank by nefarious means, I would end up in gaol. The monetary loss is the same, but one is personal and causes extreme stress to often the poorer people, the other to big business who are probably insured against such theft and can claim a tax deduction, yet the crime of stealing from a bank is punished much harder.

And god help you if you are an abused single woman with children who makes a mistake in your favour with your Centrelink statement of your income.

Car theft needs to be judged as a serious crime. I do not understand why it is not but I suspect it isn't for 'respectable' people, because it is covered by insurance. If you are poor, you can barely afford to run a car, let alone insure it.

Lock the car thieves up, I say. No excuses.  Steal a car worth $10,000 or steal $10,000 from a bank, it is the same.

But what I will add is that money spent on preventing youth crime is often money very well spent.

15 comments:

  1. I agree completely. Steal a person's car and you take from that person his or her way to get to work or get groceries or get away. It can radically alter for the worse the life of a poor person without theft insurance. I wish the crime, common here too, were taken seriously.

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    1. Strayer, yes, imagine the impact your car being stolen would have on you. Priorities and punishments are all wrong.

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  2. Laws weighted heavily in favor of the rich seems to be systemic around the globe.

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    1. Sandra, just one more reason why people are voting for extreme parties and people.

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  3. I had a car stolen when I was about 20 years old. It was the second hand car my dad had bought for me in high school, and it wasn't in good shape. When the criminal tried to outrun the police in it, he blew the engine. I don't recall what happened to him (probably not much) but it left me without a way to get to work, and with no money to buy another car.

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    1. Jennifer, you are another person where the theft of a modest car made your life so difficult. Owning a car is not a right, but it is essential for so many, especially where public transport is poor.

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  4. Yes. And no.
    I agree with you wholeheartedly about the stealing from individuals not being given the penalties it warrants. Violent crimes often also get lesser sentences than I would like. Theft from a corporation often gets a bigger sentence than an assault which changes a person (and their family's) life forever.
    However, in my yoof I worked for Social Security (now Centrelink). Overpayments are recovered (if possible, and usually in tiny increments). Prosecution is rare and not undertaken for mistakes, or small amounts.

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    1. EC, I am heartened to hear of your first hand experience. At the end of the spectrum, I hope Sennalink go hard against real fraudsters.

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  5. Theft of actual money, or even virtual money is seen as far worse than almost anything else. To those who have it stolen, money seems to be the most important thing on earth.

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    1. River, just wondering if you think stealing $100 from you is a worse crime than me having $100 stolen from me? On the face of it, it is, but should the courts judge it like that?

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  6. No Andrew, $100 is $100 and I may well suffer the loss more than you, but the theft should be judged the same.

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  7. Comparing offences is complicated because seriousness involves lots of factors and then when it comes to punishment the circumstances of the offender should also be taken into account.

    But if there are two, to your mind, equal offences, A and B, and A is punished less than B, isn't equality served just as well by reducing the punishment for B?

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    1. Marcellous, yes, I suppose that could happen, that is reduce the sentence of party B. But what I am talking about is victim impact, and the impact of theft of a poor person's car is far greater than its equivalent cash value from an institution. One reason, or the reason, the driving license points system was introduced is because monetary fines were not a deterrent to people who are wealthy enough to not care.

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  8. 41 cars stolen everyday adds up to a lot of people thrown in gaol Andrew, and then we'll have to pay to keep them in a style to which they are accustomed 😀😀

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    1. Grace, bring back breaking rocks, I say.

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