The (Also Bad) Alternatives to Concealment

Suppose the owner of a mansion awakes to discover that his many precious paintings have disappeared from the estate’s gallery.

Consider a few, alternative scenarios:

In the first, he walks through empty hallways, all his collection now gone. He finds no one else in the house, and no trace of an intruder. Someone took the owner’s paintings, but the culprit concealed his tracks nicely.

In the second scenario, the owner awakes to find his paintings missing, but he also notices some unusual footprints, a crumpled Hershey Bar wrapper, and a note that says, “Thanks for making it so easy to take all your estate’s masterpieces. I’ve always wanted to steal them.”

In a third scenario, the owner again awakes to find his paintings missing, but he also spots a cart filled with all the valuable paintings, and an intruder, dressed in black and wearing a mask, holding a toy poodle on a leash.

Furious, the owner screams out, “What do you think you’re doing, here?”

The cat burglar promptly replies, “I’m walking my dog.”

Would anyone feel contented, after hearing that explanation?

The theft is wrong in all three scenarios, but there’s a particular temerity in the third situation’s declaration that the visit was really just an innocent dog-walk.

Someone trying to take something valuable, but offering only a ludicrous or trivial justification, is even more troublesome than someone who says nothing or candidly admits to an illegitimate scheme.

That shamelessness is an additional problem, likely to play itself out as often as it can.

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