It is (or at least was) a common trope in Westerns for someone to be accused of being a horse thief, and to face a hangin’ as a result. These days, lots of people react in horror to the concept of a death sentence for theft… “property isn’t worth a human life” and similar tired bromides are often trotted out. But horse thieving was seen as worth a hanging for the simple fact that the horse – a piece of property – WAS very often the owners lifeline. Without a horse, the owner could be stranded, not only putting his life at risk, but those who depended on him. Take a mans horse and chances are you’ve just killed someone.
These days the closest analogy to a horse is a car. And if you take someones car… well, they get on the phone, call a taxi or get an Uber, get where they need to then contact the insurance company and get the car replaced. It’s a hassle and a financial hit and a pain, but it’s not the clear threat that a stolen horse was in earlier times. So does that mean that theft is not longer the heinous villainy it once was? Hmmm…
Someone thought they had the right to steal a random package and as a result they’ve put a small child’s life at risk. Go on, tell me why that should not be at least considered assault. Or child abuse or attempted manslaughter or depraved indifference or some such.
There have been a number or proposed and implemented “solutions” to the problem of “porch pirates” stealing stuff in broad daylight. Such as this one:
It’s a “bait box” that when picked up fires off a blank shotgun shell. It makes a loud noise, and that’s about it; the idea is that it scares off the thief, causing them to run away and rethink their thieving ways. There are those who question the legality of it, since they erroneously believe that:
1: It’s an explosive device (it’s not… gunpowder isn’t an explosive)
2: It’s a firearm (it’s not, as there is no barrel and no projectiles)
It just makes a loud bang. The chances of it actually injuring the thief are minimal.
An actual boobytrap would be illegal. Even something that simply traps the thief would be illegal… gates that slam down, a trapdoor that dumps the thief into a holding cell, a box covered in cartoony instant glue, or a taser, all would be illegal under the current set of laws. But… should they be?
The reasons for banning boobytraps are not without merit. While I would not go up to a neighbors door and mess with a package in front of it, another package delivery guy might; a Girl Scout hawking Thin Mints might; or any of a number of other random, innocent people or even critters might nudge a box or even pick it up intending to be helpful.
But: if someone winds up getting injured or dead while in the process of stealing other peoples stuff, should we *really* feel too bad about it? At the same time, should we perhaps consider people who do stuff like this, willingly putting random peoples lives potentially at risk in order to steal a box of stuff they don’t even know what it is, to be unworthy of remaining in society? Executing porch pirates might be a tad excessive… but deportations to penal colonies (I understand a lot of space has recently opened up in Syria) seems like it might be worth considering. Granted, deportations are an unlikely and joking suggestion, but how about:
1: *Hard* labor
2: A *permanent* additional tax on all their future income and a lifetime ban on all public assistance
3: A return to corporal punishment: public floggings, perhaps
4: Drafted into some sort of military or public service (similar to #1)
These are not poor desperate people stealing a sammich cuz they’re starving. They are not even idjits who have poor impulse control. They are scumbags who go out of their way to harm regular folks, and are indifferent not only to the cost, but to the *risk* they impose on others.
Some suggestions for alternates to the “bang box:”
1: A bait box with a GPS tracker in it. Soon as it’s 10 meters away the cops are called and they chase it down.
2: Same as 1, but with an additional fun feature: at 100 meters range it releases a spray of, say, ten grams of cadaverene. Should make that car ride fun.
3: Same as 2, but replaces the cadaverene with a kilo of fast-setting high expansion urethane foam. Not enough to fill up a car, but enough to make one heck of a mess.
4: Same as 2, but it releases a spray of an inert, safe white powder… fine sugar, say, or flour. But it *also* pops out a note that says something along the lines of “Congratulations! You’ve just been infected with anthrax!” Then keep an eye on the local hospitals. If the car is stopped and the thieves arrested by the cops after being sprayed, the cops don’t need to tell them that they’ve not been infected. Let ’em stew for a day or two in a quarantine cell. Hell, *never* tell them that they weren’t actually infected; just tell them that *so* *far* they hven’t tested positive. “But this stuff can sit in your system for years and pop up randomly in the future…”
5: Similar to 4, but instead of powder, a glow-in-the dark goo. “Surprise! Say hello to radiation poisoning!” The rest of the box can be filled with printed out photos showing gory images of people dying of radiation sickness (so far as they know, anyway).
6: And if you *really* want to mess with them, work with you local cops. Specifically, your local *shady* cops. Fill the box with a couple kilos of coke, meth, heroin, with the GPS tracker. Or a firearm or knife from the evidence locker, something used in an as-yet unsolved murder. SHAZAM! Instant bump in the conviction rates.