Anyone for a bit of holy shoplifting – on behalf of the poor you understand?

Father Tim Jones

Father Jones said some people had little option but to turn to crime

A priest from North Yorkshire has advised his congregation to shoplift if they find themselves in hard times.

Father Tim Jones, the parish priest of St Lawrence and St Hilda in York, said people should steal from big chains rather than small businesses.

He said society’s attitude to those in need “leaves some people little option but crime”.

However the Archdeacon of York said: “The Church of England does not advise anyone to shoplift”.

North Yorkshire Police described the sermon as “highly irresponsible”.

‘Catastrophic folly’

A force spokesman said despite people getting in difficult situations “shoplifting or committing other crimes should never be the solution”.

“To do this would make the downward spiral even more rapid, both on an individual basis and on society as a whole,” he said.

I would ask that they do not steal from small, family businesses, but from national businesses, knowing that the costs are ultimately passed on to the rest of us in the form of higher prices
Father Tim Jones

Speaking to his congregation on Sunday, Father Jones said: “My advice, as a Christian priest, is to shoplift.

“I do not offer such advice because I think that stealing is a good thing, or because I think it is harmless, for it is neither.

“I would ask that they do not steal from small, family businesses, but from national businesses, knowing that the costs are ultimately passed on to the rest of us in the form of higher prices.

“When people are released from prison, or find themselves suddenly without work or family support, then to leave them for weeks and weeks with inadequate or clumsy social support is monumental, catastrophic folly.

“We create a situation which leaves some people little option but crime.”

‘Important issues’

Speaking later on BBC Radio York, Father Jones said his intention had not been to rally people to shoplifting, but to encourage people to give more to charity to avoid those in need from becoming so desperate.

“If one has exhausted every legal opportunity to get money and you’re still in a desperate situation it is a better moral thing to do to take absolutely no more than you need for no longer than you need,” he said.

However the Archdeacon of York, the Venerable Richard Seed, said: “Father Tim Jones is raising important issues about the difficulties people face when benefits are not forthcoming, but shoplifting is not the way to overcome these difficulties.”

Father Jones made the news in May 2008 when he made a protest about Playboy branded stationery being aimed at children. He went into a local stationers and threw the Playboy merchandise on the floor.


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Sadly this well intentioned shock tactic can only backfire … although I admit to similar thinking recently. I was in Coney Street when I saw swarms of police officers apprehending shoplifters outside the ‘big shops’ in town. Couldn’t they have been better deployed protecting the homes of the citizens of York rather than the business interests of the large commercial chains. The little they lose through shoplifting is tiny in proportion to the loss of personal belongings caused by burglars. 

This couple want a deaf child. Should we try to stop them?

According to one caller to Victoria Derbyshire’s phone in on BBC 5 Live this morning, deaf people become so frustrated with their deafness that they may try to commit suicide. He was argueing against the campaign of a deaf couple featured in The Observer this Sunday. Garfield and Lichy say the Embryology and Human Fertilisation Bill would prevent them from having a deaf baby by IVF. Their first child, conceived naturally, was born without hearing.

This couple want a deaf child. Should we try to stop them? | Science | The Observer
We celebrated when we found out about Mollys deafness, says Lichy. Being deaf is not about being disabled, or medically incomplete – its about being part of a linguistic minority. Were proud, not of the medical aspect of deafness, but of the language we use and the community we live in.

The problem with the callers’ argument is that if we stop the birth of babies with any kind of disability we devalue all people with disabilities. Their frustration of course is often caused by those who don’t or can’t be bothered to understand how to communicate with them.

In many ways the the problem afflicts everyone. How many times have you been frustrated because someone else didn’t take the time to understand what you were trying to say. Deaf people simply help us realise how poor we are at communicating. Perhaps it’s a British thing and explains why we shout in English at people who don’t speak our language thinking that somehow it’s their problem and volume will penetrate their stupidity. It’s not communication, it’s ignorant and patronising. Perhaps a little like the fine detail of the bill currently going through parliament.