What is the Financial Threshold that Compels People to Steal Ridiculous Stuff?

by Darwin on February 29, 2012

Each time we see gas prices start to move up around $3.50 nationally and higher, the utterly moronic stories start to surface about people siphoning gas out of cars and other seemingly ridiculous thefts.  Here are some gems on the topic:

  • Yes, there is actually a website dedicated solely to gas theft www.gastheft.com.  Incredible. The front page has a picture of a woman forced to wear a sign for stealing gas.  It doesn’t appear to be very active or current, but it’s funny nonetheless.  Here’s some more recent stuff:
  • Tutorials on Stealing Gas abound as well.  Here’s an example with step by step instructions, not to mention various YouTube videos.  Gotta love free speech on the internet I suppose.
  • Even Pro Athletes are doing it!  This Philadelphia Eagles running back was charged with stealing $15,000 in gas.
  • Desperate Much?  So, the latest is taking gas theft to a whole new level.  Rather than stealing from gas stations or even siphoning out of cars without gas cap locks, now thieves are resorting to drilling holes in gas tanks.  It sounds like a pretty dirty business, risky and how the heck do they even know if the car has much gas in it!?  Imagine if that ingenuity and effort were put into just getting a job?

Gas isn’t the only hot commodity in recent years.  Copper! Last year, we saw a rash of headlines about people stealing copper from all sorts of venues ranging from cell phone towers to someone pulling off a massive heist by removing 10,000 feet of copper wire underground in CA!

Penny Hoarding to Get Rich – I came across a real interesting phenomena where people are hoarding older pennies which have a higher copper concentration (ABC).  While hoarding them is not illegal, melting them down is.  So for now, they hoard and wait – until we possibly abolish the penny someday, at which point the payoff could be huge!

On one hand, I tend to wonder if the media has just been running with these stories more due to a slow news cycle and the general tone of the economy or if these types of thefts have always been just as prevalent.  If it is the economy, it begs the question, what is the threshold or tipping point to cause one to steal gas or copper or anything else besides cash for that matter?  (Cash is cash and there have always been thieves but some of these new types of commodity theft seem to be more trouble than they’re worth!).


Are You Aware Of Other Weird Thefts That Aren’t Common Historically?

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1 Daisy March 1, 2012 at 11:42 pm

Lol, I used to work at a shoe store, and caught an old man stealing a plastic shoe horn. The sad thing was, the shoe horns were free – he just didn’t know it and sneakily slipped it up his coat sleeve before leaving the store.

2 Patrick March 2, 2012 at 3:40 pm

The title is misleading. It was an okay, but I came here from google because the title seemed a bit more philosophical than the results of the article, which was basically a mismash of URLs.

3 BRETT LOUKEDIS May 19, 2012 at 5:06 pm

Good one. Have anybody here worked with reliance first capital ? I am doing an analysis for a private equity firm. Let me know and I will compensate for your time.

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