Thoughts on theft

posted by Mike on August 2nd, 2006

Yesterday afternoon, after helping a friend with computer troubles, I stopped by the old, now-empty Catholic Worker house on South Bend’s West Washington Street to do some yard work.

I threw my backpack against the side of the house and started cutting weeds. When I was ready to leave, I saw that my backpack was gone.

My friend helped me run around looking for it, and finally we found it down the alley, with the contents strewn about. My planner and library books were there, but my camera, iPod, and CD case had been stolen.

The iPod, with “Deus Caritas Est” printed on the side, was filled with Jesuit meditations from Pray-As-You-Go.

Among the stolen discs were data CDs with Brenna Cussen’s photos and PowerPoint presentation about her Darfur work, and a DVD with the first part of the documentary “The Power of Nightmares,” which traces the parallel histories of neo-conservatism and radical Islam.

So I figure that ten years from now, I’ll be listening to some international policy scholar from Harvard speaking, and he’ll say, “Well, the way I first got interested in politics was, I stole this guy’s backpack . . . .”

(Does it make any sense to steal a notoriously-disposable toy like an iPod? Two days before this was stolen, I was fretting that I was going to have to replace it soon, since the battery seemed to be charging improperly.)

(Likewise, is there any resale value to used CDs? Do a bunch of gangstas really want to listen to my Motorhead or Langley School Music Project albums? And as a guy with way more CDs than free time, would I have noticed that these CDs were missing if they’d been stolen, say, from my stuff in storage?

Aside from my data CDs, the only CD I’ve been carrying around that I really value is my non-DRMed promo copy of the new Springsteen, which I happened to loan to Brenna about 3 hours before the CD case was stolen!)

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2 Comments Leave a comment.

  1. On August 2, 2006 at 11:42 xradiographer said:

    that sucks

  2. On August 2, 2006 at 12:24 Adam (Southern California) said:

    I think you might be able to get a buck or two, depending on the disc, for used CDs at a used CD store.

    I’ve had things stolen from me before and it’s always really bothered me. Depending on the item, it can bother me more so than having an equivalent amount of money stolen from me. Perhaps some of this is an unhealthy attachment to material goods, but in my mind many of the things I own represent not just their immediate value as useful items, but as representations of the time and care I took in selecting the item in the first place, or of the enthusiasm I have or might have had for the contents. Having that item stolen means I’ve lost that concrete link to my self and thought processes at the time that I acquired the item and have to only rely on my memory. In that way, theft runs against my “pack rat” tendencies.

    There’s also the matter of the erosion of trust in people. When I was younger I fell for the “I need money for bus fare to Northern California and will pay you back” scam, and when I saw the same guy around town a few weeks later, it hurt me much more than the $10.00 I had given him. He had lied to me outright, played on my sympathies, and, of course, hurt the possibilities of strangers who might need my help in the future. To this day, any panhandler mentioning “bus fare” sets off my “scam artist” alarm.

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