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Two Stories of Bible Thief: Thou Shalt not Steal - A True Story

Updated on July 12, 2020
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Esrom Aritonang enjoys reading and sharing funny, inspirational, and thought-provoking quotes.

Have you ever imagined stealing a Bible and getting caught? The police then dragged you to court. The judge may feel sorry for you, but steal is steal --even if it's just a bible. You were also sentenced according to the law.

Singapore is a modern small country in Southeast Asia
Singapore is a modern small country in Southeast Asia | Source

Gifts for Bible Thief

The first story happened in Singapore, in October 2007. It's been a long time, but the story has unique and universal value. Singapore is a modern small country in Southeast Asia. I tried to summarize some of the sources and rewrite it. The main source was taken from several sources published in Singapore.

A man named Tan Jit Liang, 26 years old, stole a Bible from a bookstore. Because of his suspicious attitude, a sales assistant intercepted him after leaving the store. Tan hugs the haversack and defends himself. After checking his bag, the sales assistant found an unpaid bible. Tan was handed over to the police.

Thou shalt not steal - Exodus 20:15
Thou shalt not steal - Exodus 20:15 | Source

Tan was brought before a judge in court. Community Court judge Bala Reddy sentenced him to four months in prison. However, many media reported this case because the judge gave Tan a gift: a new bible.

After Tan received his gift, the judge told him to open a page in the Old Testament. What did the judge say after Tan opened the page? The judge said a simple piece of advice, which sounded "funny", but was actually deep and touching.

“You will see at page 65 that it says: ‘Thou shalt not steal’” said the Judge Bala Reddy. “While you are in prison, sit in prison and read the Bible, and ensure that you don't come before the courts again,'' the judge said emphatically.

Judges are not seeking popularity with his decision, nor intend to dramatize the case to attract the media attention. The judge made the decision because Tan was convicted of theft several times, including stealing books. "Now you have gone on to steal the Bible," said Judge Bala Ready.

What is the reason of this man to stolen the Bible? Why not something quite expensive? Based on his confession to the psychiatrist who examined him, Tan stole a new one because his Bible was torn and tattered one.

He was stealing the New International Version Bible and a Bible cover which cost Singapore dollars $99 and put him in jail him for four months. How much is it? It’s about $71 USD or 63 Euro.

The Return of the 200 Years Old Bible

In early December 2013, the Holy Trinity Church in the coastal resort of Hastings, England, received a package. The church treasurer named Simon Scott opened the large leather package.

He was surprised, it contained an old bible. The 200-year-old Bible has returned by the thief. The Bible has been stolen for decades. The following story is summarized from news published in the UK.

Who is the thief? The package was sent from Germany, which was accompanied by a letter. There is only a return address, no sender's name. Anonymous note in the letter is a recognition from the thief who did not have the courage to admit his name.

The old Bible belongs Holy Trinity Church which 200 years old
The old Bible belongs Holy Trinity Church which 200 years old | Source

He wanted to return the Bible, but lacked of courage. Finally, after retirement, based on his quote: "I've never managed to pluck up the courage to come and hand it back personally. But now that I've retired, I've definitely decided to get on the right side of things."

At least four decades, the German man was haunted by bad feelings. "Whenever I came across the Bible I would have this guilty conscience about doing it". He stole the Bible in 1971 and owned it for a long time: 42 years.

"Whenever I came across the Bible I would have this guilty conscience about doing it". He stole the Bible in 1971 and owned it for a long time: 42 years.

How did it happen? In 1971, the man and his wife visited the Hastings, England, to attend an English language course. But he was disappointed because the instructor was old and didn’t have teaching skills. Some classes are held in the church. Feeling disappointed, he ventured to take one of the bible "as compensation for the poor course".

"I'll read it at home later," he thought. But in fact he never did. His wife was very angry about it. This big book is actually not easy to steal because it usually has sat on a lectern in the church.

Holy Trinity Church in the coastal resort of Hastings, England
Holy Trinity Church in the coastal resort of Hastings, England

Unlike the Bible thief from Singapore who were sentenced to four months, the Holy Trinity Church did not try to find and sue this German man. Church treasurer Simon Scott explained that the church had sent a reply to the anonymous address.

The church thanked him for returning the Bible. “I think he is a God-fearing chap and this was his attempt at a confession. It must have weighed very heavily on his mind. I’m sure he will be able to rest a little easier in his bed now,” said the church treasurer.

The lucky German man. Hopefully now the old retiree can sleep soundly after feeling guilty as a Bible thief for over forty years.

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