Two nights ago, I was walking down Uxbridge Road when a young man came flying around the corner, running across the street in front of a passing car. For a second I wondered why he was in such a hurry but immediately I knew as a Tesco employee came around the corner after the thief.
That was the third time I’ve seen thieves running out of a Tesco store in Shepherds Bush over the last few months. One lady was caught but her boyfriend slipped out of the worker’s grasp to scamper down the street. The doors where quickly shut and locked, as they waited for the police to arrive for her.
Does it matter that people steal? On one level, Tesco can afford it. It is a company doing billions of pounds in business each year so what does a few chocolate bars or a bottle of wine matter to them? But the thieves point to two problems we currently face in this country.
Our society is slowly losing our general sense of public morality. The attitude from the Tesco thieves to the MPs theft of government funds to the rioters last summer, is that stealing is wrong only if you are caught. A stable society needs to have sense of public morality in the sense that respect is given to people, property and the laws of the land.
In addition, our society has become increasingly materialistic and therefore the value of the individual is increasingly defined by the amount of stuff a person owns.
No stuff = no self worth.
These twin problems – loss of morality and a materialistic worldview – combine to encourage the teen who doesn’t have the funds to buy things at Tesco to make a run for it. In his mind, there’s a good chance he won’t get caught and he sees few other ways to boast his self esteem.
Will better security help? Maybe. Will more education help to teach people ways to earn money? Maybe. But unless we address the underlying heart condition of individuals in our society, we’ll be yelling “Stop thief!” for a long while to come.