Shoplifting is OK if you are vulnerable and hard-pressed, says Yorkshire vicar

A YORKSHIRE vicar has advised hard-pressed members of his flock to fleece retailers by shoplifting. But they should do it only from big stores, the Rev Tim Jones said, and it would probably be best if they did not take any more than they needed.shoplift

Inevitably, says The Times

Some less spiritually enlightened individuals, including North Yorkshire Police, have taken his remarks in entirely the wrong way, assuming that by advising people to shoplift he is in some way encouraging shoplifting.

Jones’ remarks came in his Sunday sermon at the Church of St Lawrence, York, when he said that stealing from large national chains was sometimes the best option open to vulnerable people. It was far better for people desperate during the recession to shoplift than to turn to prostitution, mugging or burglary.

My advice, as a Christian priest, is to shoplift. I do not offer such advice because I think that stealing is a good thing, or because I think it is harmless, for it is neither. I would ask that they do not steal from small family businesses but from large national businesses, knowing that the costs are ultimately passed on to the rest of us in the form of higher prices. I would ask them not to take any more than they need, for any longer than they need.

He added:

I offer the advice with a heavy heart and wish society would recognise that bureaucratic ineptitude and systematic delay have created an invitation and incentive to crime for people struggling to cope.

Arguing that society had failed the needy, Jones, 41, continued:

My advice does not contradict the Bible’s Eighth Commandment [Thou shalt not steal] because God’s love for the poor and despised outweighs the property rights of the rich. Let my words not be misrepresented as a simplistic call for people to shoplift. Rather, this is a call for our society no longer to treat its most vulnerable people with indifference and contempt. Providing inadequate or clumsy social support is monumental, catastrophic folly.

A spokesman for North Yorkshire Police said:

Shoplifting is a criminal offence and to justify this course of action under any circumstances is highly irresponsible. Turning or returning to crime will only make matters worse. We recognise that some people find themselves in difficult circumstances but support is readily available and must be sought.

Anne McIntosh, the Conservative MP for Vale of York, who has campaigned in Parliament for stronger sentences for shoplifters, admitted that there had been an over-commercialisation of Christmas that encouraged people to spend, but she said:

I cannot condone inciting anyone to commit a criminal offence. Shoplifting is a crime against the whole local community and society.

The British Retail Consortium agreed. A spokesman said:

Shoplifting is wrong and it is not more or less wrong depending on who the victim is. It is the job of our welfare system, which retailers support with the billions they pay each year in tax, to help vulnerable people. There are no excuses for stealing.

Hat Tip Danny J and Marcus

32 responses to “Shoplifting is OK if you are vulnerable and hard-pressed, says Yorkshire vicar”

  1. godlesssodamite says:

    so much for “thou shalt not steal”, huh?

  2. You’d think a Christian would just buy a loaf, a few fishes and then multiply them, wouldn’t you? Or just pray to God for some food? It’s a telling admission that when push comes to shove, miracles don’t happen and prayers aren’t answered.

  3. Angela_K says:

    One would have thought that the CofE with its enormous wealth and property portfolio would distribute some of it to the needy, isn’t that in their bible? All this berk of vicar has done is to support the chavs who are career thieves.

  4. tony e says:

    At last! Truly a xmas ‘mirace’ – a man of the cloth speaking a bit of sense.

    Whilst not condoning theft I heartily agree with this man’s opinion.

    If, for example, you are a genuinely unemployed single parent, on the weekly pittance that this government decrees is adequate, and you want to give the kids a special meal, I can understand why someone would do it. Theft for theft sake is another matter.

  5. sailor1031 says:

    Obviously this saintly man is just too far advanced spiritually for the rest of us so we don’t quite get his true message. Is it possible he could give us his thoughts about dealing with difficult people? I am feeling a little hard-pressed and vulnerable lately in this area and I am sure he would see that dog’s love for me outweighs the right to life of a few people I don’t like.

  6. rog says:

    Surely the best place for the poor to steal from is the church collection box? I’d be making a beeline for that vicar’s church if I were poor and in Yorkshire…

  7. BroadSnark says:

    I’m with tony e on this one. As famous as Les Misérables has become over the years, the essential debate is ignored. Given our present situation, it might be a good time to start the conversation again. Do you put someone in jail for stealing bread?

  8. Marcus says:

    Sorry to go off-story here, but has anybody read about the maths tutor who was suspended for trying to pray for a child who is ill with leukemia? (This after the child’s parents had explicitly asked her not to do so.) The local paper that ran the story has a message board going if anybody wants to add their thoughts on the matter. You can find it here:

  9. Stuart H. says:

    I suppose a vicar counselling theft from the rich instead of the poor is a first.
    ‘Career thieves’, Angela? I think the preferred term is ‘Lords Spiritual’!

  10. chrsbol says:

    Where’s barriejohn gone today? Christmas shopping no doubt. If he’d have read this first he could have saved himself some dosh!

  11. barriejohn says:

    I read this story this morning actually, and emailed it to Barry, but obviously someone else beat me to it!

    I agree with @rog. There’s a lot of silver, and even gold, plate in our nation’s churches, not doing much good, and plenty of lead on the roofs just asking to be taken away and put to better use. Let the poor avail themselves of the opportunity, and ease the strain on Social Services. Merry Christmas, Rev. Jones!!

  12. barriejohn says:

    Father Tim, up in Yorkshire, by gum,
    Said, “I’m going to have lots of fun.
    Shoplifting, I’ll say,
    Is just grand round this way!”
    Now he’s had a great boot up the bum!!

  13. abz says:

    This person cannot be a native Yorkshireman!! As a fellow Yorkie I bloody hope not!!!

    How does he think it’s different to rob shop keepers who are in many cases struggling to stay afloat and usually have to pay for losses from their own pockets.

    I know a lot of retailers through work and so many of them barely scrape a living.

    This idiot doesn’t have that problem though does he? He gets a nice fat wage for talking crap and encouraging crime!

  14. Stonyground says:

    abz, I believe that he specified that only large chains should be robbed, not that that makes any difference in my view, he’s still out of order. I would also be interested to know how this story got out as it is reported to be something he said during a sermon. Could it be that he has atheist spies in his flock due to the government’s education policy?

  15. abz says:

    Woolworths was a large chain.
    Even Tesco support a lot of jobs. I don’t think there’s any such thing as a victimless crime – except for blasphemy of course.

  16. barriejohn says:

    Perhaps God is one of the Marx Brothers, @The Rational Fool.

    “I wouldn’t want to belong to any religion that would have me as a member!”

  17. Neuseline says:

    “Surely the best place for the poor to steal from is the church collection box? I’d be making a beeline for that vicar’s church if I were poor and in Yorkshire…”
    If my late mother-in-law (bless her memory), who was born in the dales, is anything to go by there would be nothing worth stealing in a Yorkshire church collection box. At her request I made her a night-dress once and when she did not like it after all I BOUGHT it from her to give to my mother.

  18. Ash Walsh says:

    tony e

    Criminality only entrenches poverty. If a Thief gets a Criminal Record, the Thief will find it a lot more difficult to get a job thus starting a poverty cycle that is difficult to break out of.

    The Main reasons this cretin has been able to offer this stupid advice is because He is not of the real world as His head is stuck up the clouds up Sky daddy’s Anus whilst down here, His flock is able to provide a never ending meal ticket.

    Please have a rethink on your previous comments!

  19. Callisto says:

    If god loves the poor so much, why doesn’t he help them out? Why have poor people at all? This christian cretin has left me speechless; hasn’t he thought about what might happen if these christian endorsed shoplifters get caught? Fines, a criminal record, even jail? and then to claim his ‘advise’ doesn’t contradict g-d’s rule of ‘thou shalt not steal’???!!!!
    These people are truly and totally brain dead. It just shows how much trust they themselves place in their g-d’s laws: none. As they know deep down inside that nothing will happen from g-d. So go ahead and break one of the ten commandments; it’s doesn’t contradict g-d at all! No, not at all…go ahead and kill; that doesn’t contradict g-d either…truly barking mad…

  20. Brian Jordan says:

    It could be a bit counter-productive, as far as maintaining his flock is concerned. They go and nick a few pork chops, get nicked themselves and land up in gaol. While there, they get converted into Muslims. Flock thereby diminished.
    Still, the pork chops will be safe.

  21. rog says:

    Maybe barriejohn has the right idea: go scrumping for lead off the church roof. Or better yet, burgle the vicarage – at least you know when the vicar will be out & the CoE has it’s own insurance company so you know that only Xains would be footing the bill…

  22. Buffy says:

    Stealing is OK, so long as you steal from Tesco or H&M.

    Funny how we’re always told that we’re evil because we don’t have one of those “objective morality” thingies. It seems objectivity is in the eye of the beholder.

  23. barriejohn says:

    Only take what you really need though, rog! Remember – greed is a sin!!

  24. barriejohn says:

    Buffy: I think you’re referring to “absolute” values. We can’t just make it up as we go along, you know; and, of course, there are no “degrees of sin” with God – one sin is just as bad as the other! What a load of rubbish!!

  25. BroadSnark says:

    Ash Walsh, you are absolutely right that criminality entrenches poverty. That was my point. We criminalize actions that (in many cases) are a response to poverty, rather than dealing with the poverty itself. Steel food and go to jail, but steal millions of people’s pensions and buy a yacht? That’s the “essential debate” that I was talking about.

    But Neuseline has the better idea of stealing from the church collection box. Everyone seen Sarah Silverman’s “Sell the Vatican Feed the World”


  26. tony e says:

    Ash Walsh, further to BroadSnark.

    Probably, like yourself, I am preparing for xmas day. I am buying food and alcohol in expectation of spending time with my family, not to celebrate the alleged birth of christ.

    However, times are hard, forget the shit that the organised religions spout but spare a thought (or, better still, a few pounds) for those less fortunate than yourself.

  27. Harry says:

    I know that no christian believes the whole bible is right but this is the first case I’ve seen of a priest saying that one of the commandments is wrong.

  28. Ian says:

    Perhaps the offertory plate might be a good starting place for the light fingered. No shortage of funds there!

  29. William Harwood says:

    There IS a Christian sect that believes the whole bible is right. It is called the Flat Earth Society. (I do not jest.)

  30. Duffy says:

    Quite cynical, o pioneers my pioneers

  31. Duffy says:

    Guess I didn’t read all the posts, but cynicism is a bad trait. Happy Christmas y’all! Back to Ohio.