Stealing deprives the right to property that does not belong to the thief.
It’s a pretty easy concept. In a civil society, people don’t steal from each other.
This begs the question of how civilised Australia is given the alarming and chilling statistics from our major supermarkets showing theft or "stock loss" is exploding.
Both of Australia’s major grocery retailers have detailed the big hit they are taking from those in the community who believe they have a right to steal products.
Woolworths and Coles, along with other smaller businesses, are suffering at the hands of shoplifters. They all report that the thefts have diminished their potential profits.
The reasons for this increase in theft are, as it is with most things, multi-faceted.
Cost of living, reluctance to prosecute, and self-service booths enhancing temptation are some of the factors that spring to mind along with lower staffing levels.
Coles reported a 20 percent increase in “stock loss.” Disturbingly, Coles pointed to organised crime, especially in the non-food areas of their retailing empire.
To combat the trend of thieving, retailers are installing more CCTV circuitry and scanning mechanisms. Others are requiring people exiting self-serve areas to display their receipts for a quick appraisal.
Virtues Are the Greatest Crime Stopper
In all the discussions about the increased stealing and countermeasures to combat the epidemic, very little has been mentioned about the moral well-being of Australian society.
There can be no doubt that the increase in shoplifting is a symptom of a much deeper malaise that resides in the souls of the population.
Where there is no sense of a transcendental aspect to life, hedonism, and “me first” prevail—to the detriment of fellow citizens.
Stock theft from supermarkets is a crime. It deprives the owners of their property. It also results in higher prices for fellow Australians and businesses try to claim back the losses.
A well-honed conscience would find such behaviour disturbing and rightly so.
The failure to teach and promote the virtues of honesty among other virtues, seeps through into everyday behaviour in societal interactions.
Hedonistic materialism dulls the senses to what might be right or wrong informed by an authority greater than immediate gratification. The determinant of a person’s moral conduct is rooted in their belief system.
The threat of being caught and punished is a deterrent. But if that threat is not present at a particular time the deterrence loses its impact and behaviour is not modified.
However, having an ingrained belief system guiding ethical and social behaviour including respect for private property will constantly guide behaviour irrespective of a CCTV presence or the checking of receipts.
A Hikvision CCTV security camera is seen at a building in Canberra, Australia, on Feb. 15, 2023. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch)
While stealing has always been with us in society, the prevalence of it may be an expression of our education system and society generally discounting the importance of religious education and guidance for our young in particular.
Without their constant teaching, moral values become less sustainable. Those broad societal ethics will not be preserved unless they are continually taught.
The Melbourne Declaration stressed the importance of the spiritual development of young Australians in ensuring the nation’s ongoing prosperity and social cohesion.
Society ignores these matters at its peril.
Our supermarket bosses might reflect and consider allocating shareholders’ monies (for that is what it is) to wholesome causes promoting societal virtues rather than woke and divisive causes like “The Voice.” It will keep the costs of doing business down and returns to shareholders up while avoiding consumer boycotts.
Now there is a triple bottom line for the corporates to embrace.