Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Universal Laws (5) Punishment for Theft

The penalty for stealing must ensure that the victim is fully compensated for their loss. They should get back the items that were stolen. If the stolen goods have been sold or destroyed, the victim should get sufficient money to buy a replacement. If the stolen item has been damaged, the thief should pay for any repairs that are needed. The victim should get additional money to cover the income that was lost through the theft. They should also get sufficient recompense to cover all the expenses of tracking and proving the case against the thief.

In most cases, the thief would pay three or fourfold restitution to fully compensate their victim for the inconvenience of the theft. If the goods stolen are tools and equipment used in production processes, the loss is likely to be greater, so more compensation will be required. The theft of a power tool that I need for my work will justify greater compensation than the theft of a radio of equal value that I only listen to for my entertainment.

Making three or fourfold repayment for all the goods stolen would discourage a thief from further stealing. To make restitution, the thief will often have to take out a loan at a high interest rate. The hard work needed to repay the loan will make stealing an unattractive proposition.

The level of repayment should depend on whether the level of responsibility for the damage. If two cars crash into each other after being caught by a wind gust, neither driver can be held accountable. If one driver was driving, carelessly, he should compensate the other driver for the damage, before repairing his own car. If both drivers were being careless, they should share the expense.

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