My husband and I needed a new barbecue for our annual Fourth of July bash. This of course meant a trip to our local department store. The barbecues were in the large, open-to-the-air garden section, which had a door leading to the parking lot. No cash register was beside the door, nor any security. The entire garden area was devoid of any store employees. It occurred to me it would be so simple for a thief to pick up any merchandise he wanted and walk off with it.
To make the purchase, we had to bring the barbecue we wanted inside the regular store. I pointed out to the cashier the lack of security in the garden section. He merely shrugged it off. “Do you know how much theft we have every year?” he asked. “Guess!”
I had no idea. Ours is one of the smaller stores in a large national chain, so I guessed a few thousand dollars.
I was way off. The clerk informed me the annual loss of merchandise to theft averaged $250,000.
A quarter of a million dollars? In just this one smaller store?
I was flabbergasted, but, when I told my friends about this conversation, they weren’t surprised. “What did you expect?” was the usual response I got—as though this were as normal as the sun rising in the morning.
I guess I’m naïve because I expected a lot less. It got me wondering how anyone can justify the sin of stealing. How do you tell yourself it’s okay to take property that isn’t yours? How do you get yourself to believe stealing from a large corporation makes it acceptable?
Anyway, I crunched the numbers. A quarter of a million divided by 365 days a year means the average daily amount of theft is almost $685. That’s 685 dollars of sin every day in just this one store.
Then I found out how many units this chain has in the United States and crunched those numbers too. Assuming my local store is typical, the annual amount of theft for this chain is $2,881,500,000. That’s a yearly two billion, eight hundred and eighty-one million, five hundred thousand dollars of sin in just one store chain in one country in the world.
I don’t know about you, but I was heartbroken, especially when I realized that this is a drop in the bucket compared to all the theft in the world. This much offending God is going on against just the Seventh Commandment? That’s only one out of Ten Commandments!
Wait. It gets worse. I used to work in a bookstore, and of course there was theft there too. But you’ll never guess what got stolen the most.
The Bible. The actual word of God.
Yeah. The book that has that prohibition against stealing.