Even one theft robs us all

“Thou shall not steal,” God commanded. But he gave us all free choice, and ever since Cain stole his brother Abel’s life in the Garden of Eden, some have chosen theft.

“Check your yards, neighbours,” someone posted last week on our village’s Facebook page. “Maybe the wind blew them your way – missing three jerry cans, only one was full.”

My town (a bedroom community for a larger center a few kilometres down the road) has no store or coffee shop in which to swap news and information with neighbours. Facebook helps with that, providing a means to communicate complaints and kudos, questions and comments to other town residents.

Wondering if anyone’s seen your cat, or if the schoolbus is running today? Go to FB. Spotted that mangy fox in town again? Report it on FB. Needing a place to vent about water shutoffs, potholes, incorrect use of the organic dump or lack of decent cell service? Bring it to Facebook.

After I read the post about the missing gas cans, the spouse of the person reporting them added, “Wind? That’s funny. Some lowlife came into our yard during the night last night and stole them. A spade is a spade. Let’s call them what they are.”

Someone later found the cans, tossed into a ditch outside town. They’d been used to pilfer gas from a nearby farm. “Not cool,” wrote the cans’ owner. “But we got them back, thanks to honest people.”

A few days later, I decided to haul our lawn furniture out of its winter storage place. Strangely, the shed door stood ajar. That’s odd, I thought, assuming one of the grandchildren had peeked inside. Only later did I realize I couldn’t find our nicest lawn chair. I remembered the gas cans. The vehicle. The caution to lock everything.

“We’re missing a very nice, almost new, lime green zero-gravity recliner,” I posted on the village FB page. “…that ill wind perhaps? Guess it’s back to a blanket on the grass. Watch out for lurkers, neighbours.”

Not long after that, I found the chair in the garage, camouflaged by a thick coating of sawdust. Clearly, I’d parked it there last fall. Frustrated that I’d suspected someone of stealing before I thought to question if I’d stored the chair elsewhere, I returned to Facebook.

“My apologies! I found the chair we thought was stolen, tucked into a corner where I’ve never wintered lawn chairs before, meaning I am my own ill wind! Neighbours’ items have grown legs – jumping to conclusions is far too easy.”

Indeed. A neighbour’s vehicle disappeared during the night last year. When he went to bed, there it was. In the morning, there it wasn’t. People get edgy, hearing things like that. Intermittent clouds of suspicion overshadow our friendly community climate. Theft of any kind does that, wherever and however it happens.

God’s Ten Commandments formed the foundation of Western law. They serve to bless, protect and strengthen individuals and communities. Setting them aside robs us all.