Very recently, I was the victim of theft. I am not talking some little trinket that was stolen from me, or some relatively insignificant item. This was something that had deep meaning to me, and that only someone who engages in the same activity would truly understand. I had my very expensive cycling bike stolen. Someone sawed the lock off and took my bike when I was on a weekend getaway. To say I was upset, would be an understatement. Devastated is more like it. I cried for days, and as of the time of this writing, I am still, not quite the same. Despite the fact, that I am in the process of getting a new bicycle-thanks to insurance.
The new bike will never replace the one I lost, and I think that is the biggest thing I want people to understand, is the sense of violation that the thief causes, and the gaping hole that is left. You feel violated, you feel cheated, and oh so angry….
In any event, having gone thru this experience, and having worked with individuals that have stolen in the past, I decided to reinvestigate the reasons why people steal items that do not belong to them-often going to extreme measures, and being quite risky in order to do it (as I mentioned before, the lock was sawed off of my bike). I am pretty sure this was in broad daylight too, in a heavily populated, tourist area.
Individuals that steal usually start doing it for one of the following reasons:
Jealousy :They are jealous of the person that has the item, and want it so desperately, but they know they do not have the means to purchase it on their own.
Low Self-Esteem : The individual does not feel good about themselves, and is convinced, that this item that they take from someone else will make them feel better. Coinciding with jealousy, likely, they cannot afford the item on their own.
Peer Pressure: Perhaps they are pressured by peers to take the item(s) that rightfully does not belong to them, because the peer convinces them, that they can easily get away with it.
While the above mentioned issues are how it typically starts, what usually happens, as the person engages in stealing more and more, is their confidence grows. They start to feel as if they are superman, or superwoman, and can truly get away with anything. When this happens, usually, the items that they take from others increase in value-and increase in risk.
Because there is a rise in the confidence level, and a high that the person feels along with it, what is typically seen, is a further decrease in empathy, or remorse for the behavior. It is not uncommon to see an individual at this stage say, when they are caught, and questioned, ‘I don’t know. I just wanted it’ in a very flat tone. This is where it starts to really get concerning, as the individual is likely moving into Kleptomania: the recurrent urge to steal, and the inability to control that urge. When a person enters this stage, most of the time, they could have afforded the item that they stole. It has little to nothing to do with the need or desire for the item-it is purely about the addictive urge of getting away with it.
Persons that actually do exhibit remorse or guilt following the incident, will usually cease the behavior-whether on their own, or with professional help from a therapist such as myself.
Those that do not exhibit remorse or guilt, will likely turn into repeat offenders, often even building businesses with the items that they steal. I believe this is what happened with my bike. I have many reasons to believe this (of which I will not get into here).
What we find with the later individual(s), is that most of the time, they come from dysfunctional backgrounds, mental health issues within the family, parents or grandparents that were likely thieves themselves, and the behavior is so ingrained, it is hard to break that mold and patterning.
What I will say is this: Rarely, do I see persons that engage in these destructive (not to mention illegal) behaviors not experience a thing called Karma. You don’t have to even be a believer in karma, to understand, that when you are not behaving in a positive light, bad things tend to happen to you. Anyone ever had a bad day? I don’t know about you, but if I am grumpy, and I am not on my best behavior, it never ceases to amaze me, how God, the Higher Power, the Universe.. whatever you believe in-answers back. It is not fun.
Well, the same can be argued with theft. Even if the person gets away with the behavior for a long time-maybe even forever on this earth, they are going to lose out in some other way. Whether it is reputation, loss of friendships, respect, jobs, loss of relationships, whatever. This is part of the healing journey when you have been the victim of theft, is keeping this in mind.
At least that is what I am finding…