Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Off With Their Hands

So, a thief or thieves have stolen the bronze nozzles and light fixtures from the war memorial on the New Haven Green. Here's the story.

One thing the article didn't mention, however, is how long it would have taken someone to uninstall the 32 nozzles and 8 light fixtures.

I'm really curious -- I can't imagine that it's quick work, to remove that many pieces, and there had to be some type of transport nearby. ... So, basically, I'm wondering how someone managed to actually pull this off without anyone, passers-by or the police, noticing the activity. The only thing I can think of is if the thief or thieves took one or two pieces at a time over a period of days.

You know, it's this type of thievery that really gets under my skin.

If someone steals from a store or other business, we the public don't really notice; prices may increase slightly to cover the loss and additional loss prevention efforts. But when thieves strike in ways that directly affect the quality of life for the general public, it just feels different, more sinister.

Before I finally got fed up and moved, I lived in front of a housing project in West Haven, and too many of the people that lived there were real scumbags -- they would steal everything that wasn't nailed down. They would go so far as to steal pieces off of cars in the parking lot of our multifamily house; any package from UPS or FedEx would vanish from the front porch just as quickly as it had been delivered. Forget about having any type of outdoor furniture for more than a week. Someone even stole the solar lights I bought and put out there to make the area less dark -- which I did to deter thievery!

So it's this type of theft -- the kind that directly impacts our quality of life -- that I think we need to take extra seriously. Because of this kind of theft, the rest of us can't have anything nice, and that affects how a neighborhood looks, and feels.

Think about it this way: You have a nice little house with a patio, but you can't actually have anything of any value on the patio because it will get stolen -- the best you can have without it disappearing is broken-down, dirty plastic lawn chairs. You have a nice driveway, but you can't actually leave the car there because someone will steal either parts, or the whole car. Every holiday, you want to put out decorations, but since they've all been stolen every year, you stop decorating.

So, instead of living happily in your nice little house with decorations and such, you live in a locked box with nothing of value anywhere in sight. No grill, no chairs, no lights, no decorations. You can't sleep with the windows open and you have to keep your doors locked 24-7.

Gee, what a great way to live. Isn't it nice that all your hard work paid off?

I think part of this problem is the lack of punishment -- real punishment. Unless they already have a record, what's a thief really going to get for punishment? Even if they get a little jail time, the jails are too full to go put every thief in there.

So, while I may not truly believe in the title of this post, I think some actual physical punishment might be more fitting. And, since this type of thievery impacts the public, then the punishment should also be public.

For example: If and when the authorities catch the person or persons who stole the fixtures from the memorial on the Green, that person should be flogged -- on the Green. Maybe even put in the stocks, so all the people whose existence this criminal negatively affected could walk by and jeer and spit. The best part would be that that person in the stocks would get a chance to see what it's like to be prey for other criminals.

I know it sounds harsh, especially when many people would call something like this fiasco on the Green a "victimless" crime, but I believe that it would be smarter, more cost effective, and more entertaining for the rest of us.

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