Breaking the code

We all have choices in life – some good, some poor and some downright awful.

Pretty much any News story we carry this week is about such choices. We have the choice to do some good, by hosting a community event or raising awareness for one cause or another. Other times choices at council impact our neighbourhoods.

Page 6 of our print edition (or the police page of our web edition) is full of poor choices, whether speeding, drinking and driving or other crimes.

But even poor choices have a ranking system, depending on social groups and the general culture of a town. Shared across this region is a grave dislike for picking on the defenseless.

This past week we drove by a home in Fergus which is always impeccably kept. Wreaths adorn its wooden fence and we noticed this week one wreath was missing. In its place was a sign and message from the owner suggesting there is no need to steal, the couple would simply make a wreath for people who are tempted to steal one.

In a story Kate’s Fries in Arthur was the scene of an even more dreadful tale. Someone broke in and stole supplies and some cash – but most irksome to owner Cathy Culp was the theft of a donation jar, the proceeds of which were set to help a young girl from Arthur who has cancer.

Many Remembrance Days we can remember, somebody has stolen poppy funds. Another seasonal occurrence is the cutting of Christmas trees on private property. And we are accustomed as well to letters, now and again, from people who have had memorial items stolen from a loved one’s grave site.

Most communities have been pillaged by sign takers lately. Whether a late-night joke or not, pranksters are putting their neighbours and family at risk by pulling down signs and taking them away.

The words stolen and taken are interchangeable. At the end of the day, victims of such crimes feel violated in a sense. It is an eerie feeling, having someone help themselves to your stuff; whether a prank, a hoax or an outright theft.

But when the stuff stolen involves good deeds for the community, like a donation jar, it amplifies the outrage. It almost makes a mockery of people’s goodwill for others. When these heartless things happen, even the most timid among us get cross. It breaks so many codes each of us share.

Like most such events, someone usually talks. Stealing a donation tin hardly rates as a crime to boast about, but someone somewhere knows who is involved.

Like most other crimes a call can be placed to Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) to offer a confidential tip.