Break-InI have been reflecting on the latest spate of break-ins we have suffered at our various sites. There were two more incidents last week, bringing the total in recent years to around twenty.

Each break-in follows a similar pattern – locating a heavy object, smashing the glass in an external door, heading to the office area, ransacking cupboards in a vain attempt to find cash (presumably) and/or other portable items of value before exiting, leaving a trail of destruction.

No violation of space or theft of property is a victimless crime. Someone is affected. In our case, as owners of a small business, it costs us time, energy and money dealing with the aftermath each time and causes anxiety, anticipating the next early morning phone call. For our teams, on arrival at work, they face the horrid prospect of encountering more evidence of forced entry, shattered glass, scattered belongings and the unpleasant feeling that someone has intruded with such disregard, into a place of innocence, sanctuary, joy and love for children.

I am not a victim because I choose not to be. I feel pity for those who steal from us. Of course I want these break-ins to stop and those who have done this to be brought to justice but I am more saddened than angry. It saddens me that our society immediately labels this person or persons as ‘scum’. They are not scum, they are someone’s child, possibly a partner and maybe a parent. To descend to a level where their conscience is so inured to the damage, pain and sense of violation they cause, something must have happened in their lives, something that cuts them off from their humanity. In my opinion, it is a form of psychopathy –

‘a personality disorder characterized by persistent antisocial behaviour, impaired empathy and remorse, and bold, disinhibited, and egotistical traits.

You have to be pretty disinhibited to smash a glass door and climb through it with the burglar alarm going off. To repeatedly do so, definitely equates to persistent antisocial behaviour with impaired empathy and remorse – still waiting for an apology!

If someone has a broken leg, we fix it and similarly we provide treatment for depression and other forms of mental illness. What about addiction, poverty, hopelessness and dare I say it, greed?

So my question is, are these people only deserving of our contempt and punishment or is there a case for sympathy, understanding and help? Aren’t they the ones who need fixing? Surely they are the victims of the vagaries of life experiences that have brought them to this point.

The bigger question is how do we prevent others from joining them?

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