Is This Considered Stealing

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  1. angela_michelle profile image96
    angela_michelleposted 13 years ago

    Okay, here is a scenario. You are taking a walk on a side-walk and there is an object next to the side-walk. Is it stealing to pick that object up?

    The object is irrelevant. In this case it was just a toy, that was probably worth five dollars. I had a gut feeling it was just dropped by a garage saler, but I felt that it was still in someone else's yard, and we weren't sure whether it belonged to someone in the house or truly dropped by a garage saler. I told the child it was wrong to pick it up and used the word stealing. Another adult felt that using the word stealing in that case was too harsh. Maybe it was, but wouldn't that be stealing?

    I guess I'm thinking of the countless times the kids leave things in their front yard, sometimes inches from the side-walk. If a kid picked it up, it would be stealing, right? Or does a child forfeit the right to that toy, because it's next to a sidewalk?

    1. DevLin profile image61
      DevLinposted 13 years agoin reply to this

      When I was four, I got a new Tonka truck. Playing by the mailbox, I ran inside to get a drink. When I came back, it was gone. Did I lose it? I liked that truck!

      1. Jerami profile image58
        Jeramiposted 13 years agoin reply to this

        Two part answer...
          DevLin  did you learn a lesson that cost you a toy?  And had you not learned the lesson with this toy you would have learned a more expensive lesson later on in life.

           Was it steaking  by the person that took it?    YES.

        1. DevLin profile image61
          DevLinposted 13 years agoin reply to this

          You wouldn't believe what I learned from that. My brother found out what my leaving his bike by the mailbox did. Should've let me ride it.

          1. Jerami profile image58
            Jeramiposted 13 years agoin reply to this

            Are you saying that behind every silver linning is a dark cloud

            1. DevLin profile image61
              DevLinposted 13 years agoin reply to this

              Just in that case. I was a mean 4 year old

              1. Jerami profile image58
                Jeramiposted 13 years agoin reply to this

                A four year old has gotta do what a four old has gotta do.  Did your brother learn anything?

                1. DevLin profile image61
                  DevLinposted 13 years agoin reply to this

                  How to hate?

                  1. Jerami profile image58
                    Jeramiposted 13 years agoin reply to this

                    I get a feeling that you didn't teach him that.
                    I got a feeling that his hating had something to do with the bike at the nail box though. 

                       Maybe that is where the toy that the OP spoke of got to where it was.
                       Somebody might have trying to teach their big brother something (or not)

    2. profile image0
      Justine76posted 13 years agoin reply to this

      bottom line, your the Mom. Your in charge of teaching morals and values. Who cares what others think? If to you, its stealing, then go with it.

    3. profile image50
      paarsurreyposted 13 years agoin reply to this

      Hi friend angela_michelle

      I don't think it is stealing; and it is being too harsh to say it is stealing; you should have instead, told the boy that you will purchase a new one for  him, if he leaves it.

      I think excessive use of the words "stealing" or "lying" don't help the kids; alternatives should be used to diffuse the situation.


      I am an Ahmadi peaceful Muslim

    4. Ben Evans profile image68
      Ben Evansposted 13 years agoin reply to this

      You are correct to tell your child not to pick it up.  Stealing is also not too harsh a word.  Someone could miss this if it were picked up.

      Tthe litmus test is...............If some could miss if it were picked up it then it would not be right to pick it up.

    5. goldenpath profile image66
      goldenpathposted 13 years agoin reply to this

      It need not be trivial.  Your first instinct is usually the correct one.  You felt it was stealing, therefore the child should be taught as much.  I matters not where an object is.  If you retrieve it for personal purposes it is stealing.  This is different, though, from retrieving a five dollar bill or something and turning it in to the police department or some lost and found. 

      Simple terms.  If it's not yours, leave it alone.  If it's valuable turn it in to the proper authorities.  Keep your desire or "want" entirely out of the equation.  That's temptation and should be avoided.  Giving in to such only degrades one's integrity and trustworthiness.

    6. Barbara_tenBroek profile image60
      Barbara_tenBroekposted 13 years agoin reply to this

      Let me play devils advocate
      If you pick up a empty wrapper is it stealing?
      Is it only stealing if the object has value?

      1. angela_michelle profile image96
        angela_michelleposted 13 years agoin reply to this

        I think it does matter whether the object has value.

    7. profile image0
      LegendaryHeroposted 13 years agoin reply to this

      Well, if it doesn't belong to you, therefore it nearly always belongs to somebody else and then, yes, it is stealing.

    8. safe-at-last profile image80
      safe-at-lastposted 13 years agoin reply to this

      I always try to teach my children that they should do unto others as they would have done to them.

      When faced with a similar situation a few months ago, I asked my son (who wanted to keep the toy) how he would feel if he had forgotten to take his toy inside and it went missing. He replied that he would be very upset. I then asked him what he would have liked a stranger to do if they walked past and saw his toy. He promptly picked up the toy, walked up to the front door of the house, put it on the door step and walked back to me with a big smile on his face.

      I felt that I handled the situation in a way that will teach my kids to WANT to do the right thing, rather than NOT WANTING to get into trouble.

      I felt rather annoyed when I too, was berated by a friend for doing what I did. I don't really know if there is a right or a wrong way to handle such a situation.  I also don't think the way you handled your situation was "wrong".  You need to do what is right for you, in your situation, and I just thought I'd ad insight from another perspective.

      It would be nice if our friends could try to share their opinions by giving us an insight into their views rather than criticizing us to make themselves feel superior. But maybe that is a bit of a Utopian view...

      1. safe-at-last profile image80
        safe-at-lastposted 13 years agoin reply to this

        By the way, my son is also six.

      2. angela_michelle profile image96
        angela_michelleposted 13 years agoin reply to this

        Well, it was the child's mother who gave me her opinion, so she had every right too. I respected her opinion, but having a six year old daughter myself, I felt I wanted my daughter to know that was stealing, and was curious what other people felt. The person did it very nicely, and respectfully as well.

    9. Harlan Colt profile image73
      Harlan Coltposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      Stealing or not, in this type of situation I ask myself these questions.

      Is it yours?


      Is it someone elses?

      Yes. Then don't touch it, or...
      I don't know - then don't touch it until you find out.

      No, it is not someone elses (evidence of abandonment etc, in the trash, obviously laying in the desert for 20 years etc., ) then take it.

      Pretty simple.

      I was raised not to steal anything. However, dad used to say, If you're going to steal, steal a billions dollars, make it worthwhile. Any idiot can steal small stuff and everyone hates a petty thief. But if you steal a billion dollars, a lot of people will respect that.

      - Harlan

  2. Rafini profile image72
    Rafiniposted 13 years ago

    Interesting topic.  My take: Yes, it would be stealing because the child obviously knows it belongs to someone else and not themselves.

    Depending on the age of the child and a few other circumstances, I would prefer to use the term "taking what doesn't belong to you" - for a toddler and adding "it's the same as stealing" for a 5-6 year old so they can learn to recognize these situations themselves.

    1. angela_michelle profile image96
      angela_michelleposted 13 years agoin reply to this

      She's six, and I used the word stealing... I agree with you.

  3. Cagsil profile image75
    Cagsilposted 13 years ago

    I guess that would depend on whether or not it was one the grounds of someone's house or home. You say next to the side-walk, but what does that mean?

    Location, location, location is what matters. If it happened to be on the side-walk and you see a bunch of toys in the yard, thus allowing you to understand that yes it does actually have a good chance of being owned by someone. Then, stealing it is precisely what it is.

    However, if that object seems completely out of place or happens to be in the street next to the side-walk, then it would be safe to believe that it does not belong to anyone or did, but is now considered lost, then stealing is too harsh a word.

    Possession is 9/10ths law, however, as I indicated above, there is a clear difference to define what is stealing and what is not.

    Just my thoughts. smile There really isn't a right or wrong answer, but if your conscience sees it as stealing, then it is not wrong. If you feel or felt guilty, even before you decided to pick it up, then you have your answer. Just another thought.

    Great question.. smile

    1. angela_michelle profile image96
      angela_michelleposted 13 years agoin reply to this

      It was on the grass closer to the house than the road about three inches into the yard. It was out of place, and I was 99 percent sure it was someone who had been garage saling that dropped it. But I wanted to teach the child that we shouldn't take it.

  4. GreenTieCommando profile image67
    GreenTieCommandoposted 13 years ago

    That's totally stealing. The residential community where I live in has kids toys laying around all over the place. There's also bikes and baby carriers left outside. Yet noone picks up something that's not theirs!

    I hope this helps!

    1. angela_michelle profile image96
      angela_michelleposted 13 years agoin reply to this

      I thought it was stealing, but the mom of the child didn't. I'm just the babysitter. I wasn't mad about how the mom felt, and she said it nicely. It wasn't like we fought about it, I just disagreed and was curious what other people thought. Thanks everyone for you're input, I've been enjoying reading everyone's responses.

  5. MyWebs profile image83
    MyWebsposted 13 years ago

    I would say that technically any small object left on the sidewalk or out in the street is fair game and wouldn't be considered stealing by the police.

    Morally if you see its near a yard that has signs that kids live there, then the item is probably theirs and it wouldn't be right to take it regardless of what is technically right or wrong. Younger kids often have little or no understanding that their property ends where the sidewalk begins.

    1. angela_michelle profile image96
      angela_michelleposted 13 years agoin reply to this

      I'd agree with that statement, but should you teach the child not to take it, and is it too harsh to call that stealing?

  6. profile image56
    foreignpressposted 13 years ago

    Basic rule of thumb: If it isn't yours then leave it alone.

  7. Shadesbreath profile image81
    Shadesbreathposted 13 years ago

    I think the bottom line is that you know in your heart picking it up is not the right thing to do.

    The discussion of whether or not to call it stealing is almost a separate thing from the act itself.  I mean, we do need terms to clarify and distinguish these sorts of ideas, but I think the primary issue is whether it's right or wrong to grab something that isn't ours.  It's obviously not ours, so why take it?  Leave it and at the very least, if the owner realizes it's gone, they have the option to come back and retrieve it.

    In keeping with what Greentiecommando said, it's a residential area.  Kids are kids. Etc.

    Regarding the word itself, I'm not sure I would call it "stealing."  That has an intent to it that I don't quite see in this case, but I think you have spotted something very close to the exact place where the line between exists.  So, interesting forum thread.  Thanks for that.

    1. angela_michelle profile image96
      angela_michelleposted 13 years agoin reply to this

      I think the mom would agree with you completely here. (The other adult who felt the word stealing was too harsh).

  8. Polly C profile image90
    Polly Cposted 13 years ago

    I don't let my children take things that are actually on the path, I tell them that the child might come back to look for it.

    My son dropped his beloved rabbit on the path some years ago and he was so upset. We went back for it and there it was still lying there. He would have been so sad if it had gone.

    I don't use the word 'stealing' though, I just try to emphasise how the other child would feel. However, I did, myself, find £70 on the road once, blowing around with some rubbish from a and my friend took that home. I would never have done it if it had been in a wallet or identifiable, but it was just the money on its own, late at night, and no one about.

  9. raisingme profile image81
    raisingmeposted 13 years ago

    Whenever I encountered something similar with my children when they were younger I would just ask them, "Is it yours?"  The answer would come back, "No." And I would respond with, "Then leave it be."  If we did come across something that could be returned to its owner, we did and if there was a "lost and found" we returned it there.  First definition of stealing is "take something that does not belong to one".  What else you gonna call it - it is what is!

    1. profile image50
      paarsurreyposted 13 years agoin reply to this

      Hi friend raisingme

      I think it is the right approach.


      I am an Ahmadi peaceful Muslim

  10. LeanMan profile image83
    LeanManposted 13 years ago

    I would not go as far as to say it is stealing.... But then I would not take it either... ($100 bill on the sidewalk would be another matter...)

    If it was on the edge of the sidewalk next to someone's yard I would be inclined to move it further onto the property to make it clearer that it belonged there, even as far as the door if it was valuable - if it does not belong there then the owner of the property can then deal with the issue, better that than take some kids toy....

    1. angela_michelle profile image96
      angela_michelleposted 13 years agoin reply to this

      What would you call it? I say it more as a challenge, than an opposition. For fun's sake.

  11. angela_michelle profile image96
    angela_michelleposted 13 years ago

    Just for clarification. It's not like admonished the child and was like, "Don't take that! That's stealing!" It was said gently, but I did use the word stealing. I said, "Honey, you can't take that, it's not yours, put it back." She goes, "But it was just lying there." I said, "Honey, you can't take something that's not yours, it's stealing!" `

    1. Shil1978 profile image87
      Shil1978posted 13 years agoin reply to this

      I would agree with your approach. Your intentions were to tell the child that she shouldn't be picking up something which didn't belong to her, so I think that's perfectly fine. Leaving aside the definition of what stealing is, I think what matters here is that you let the child know what's right or wrong.

      It would be unhealthy to draw a narrow distinction (as in this case) and have the child pick it up and keep it. So, what you did was right IMHO, irrespective of whether you should have used the word "stealing" or not!!

  12. profile image0
    Justine76posted 13 years ago
  13. gamergirl profile image87
    gamergirlposted 13 years ago

    My parents always taught my brother and I:

    "If it's not yours, don't touch it!"

    Tada! There you go, all you need to know.  I won't even comment on the degraded views of morality of humankind as a whole when the simplest concept of ownership becomes a logistic and logical nightmare.

  14. TMMason profile image60
    TMMasonposted 13 years ago

    I agree with you, but I think stealing might have been to harsh. But I don't know? Was the child old enough to explain it to in more depth?

    1. angela_michelle profile image96
      angela_michelleposted 13 years agoin reply to this

      She was six and a half. She knew stealing was bad. I said it gently, but maybe it was too harsh.

  15. profile image0
    Home Girlposted 13 years ago

    You just don't allow kids to pick up things on the street, toys or others. Somebody lost it - let him find it back. It's not a stealing, it's scavenging.

  16. superryoga profile image59
    superryogaposted 12 years ago

    Stealing is defined as taking an object you do not own and claiming possession on said property. Thus, anything that you pick up that you have not owned is considered stealing as long as it is removed from it's location without the owner knowing where it is. You can also have larceny by possession, meaning someone knew you had the item and now you dont have it. Often times you will hear this when an object is taken from a property, given to you without you knowing it is stolen, and you then get rid of that item or throw it out. Either way, you are still involved in the chain of events that unfolded to get that item to you.

    The idea behind this? Don't take anything that does not belong to you. Knowing if an item is truly yours or not has nothing to do with the term " finders keepers losers weepers", if you take something that does not belong to you , you are stealing reagrdless of what you wish to call it.


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