The first kind of truth is the basis of social

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Unformatted text preview: ity and tradition operate very powerfully in the matter of this kind of honesty; to steal, as we see it, from neighboring tribes is ethical for savage races, and even to steal such property as women. Throughout the ages the booty of war was one of the recognized rights of warriors, and even though to-day we have conventions protecting the private property of the enemy, this is one of those rules definitely understood as made to be broken. Stealing is very common among children, who find their desire for good things too strong to be inhibited. But very quickly the average child learns control in so far as certain types of stealing are concerned. Some, however, never cease to steal, and in my opinion and experience this is true of those who become thieves later on. In very few cases do those who are eventually pickpockets and second-story men first develop their art in CHAPTER XIII. 113 adolescence or youth; they have stolen from earliest childhood. Those who steal for the first time in adult life are usually those exposed to great temptations and occupying a position of trust, such as the bank officer or the trusted employee. Here the stress of overexpensive tastes, of some financial burden or the desire to get rich quick through speculation overcome inhibition, especially as it is too often assumed by the speculator that he will be able to return the money. How widespread petty stealing is will be attested to by the hotel keeper and high-grade restaurant owner, whose yearly losses of linen, silver and bric-a-brac are enormous. The "best" people do not think it really wrong to do this, especially if the things taken have a souvenir value. Farmers whose fruit trees adjoin a public thoroughfare will also state that the average automobilist has quite a different code of morals for apples and pears than for money and gasoline. "Caveat emptor"--let the buyer beware! This has been the motto of the seller of merchandise since the beginning of trade. It has made f...
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