Crime and Consequences, a Holiday Tale

What does crime cost?

Big question, I know. But as we have just finished up one of the worst years for crime in American history, in terms of unexpected and painful growth of various types of crime, it is worth considering the human cost of this epidemic.

We can quote statistics until the cows come home, but eyes glaze over, and the impact may be lost. Numbers and percentages are just figures on spreadsheets and graphs, impersonal and unrelatable.

So, on this dawn of a new year, please allow me to share a personal experience with crime.

I work in supply chain; my job is arranging transportation and trade compliance for imports, exports, and domestic shipments in the private sector. That is, I have always worked for companies who need goods moved, either across the country or across international borders.

In this particular case, I needed to move a shipment of components -- for assembly in a Wisconsin manufacturing plant, to be specific -- from a warehouse in California to a factory in Wisconsin.

The goods became available the day before Christmas Eve, so we had to move the shipment over Christmas weekend.  My truck broker found a driver to pick up the cargo on Christmas Eve, with the intention of delivering it to the Wisconsin factory midweek, between Christmas and New Year’s.

Such jobs are voluntary; truck brokers post the gig on an internet board and find a trucking company or independent driver who wants to bid on the move. We presume from this that it was either a driver who doesn’t celebrate Christmas with his family, or who has no family, or most likely, who celebrates whenever he gets back to town, however his schedule works out.

(Personally, I told myself that there are two big holidays here; the driver probably plans to get together with family and friends for New Year’s, because he wouldn’t be home at Christmas.)

He had crossed over the mountains and was parked at a truck stop for lunch in New Mexico on Christmas Day. When he returned to his truck, he found that someone had stolen a wheel off his rig, rendering it undrivable.

Yes, this robbery was committed on Christmas Day.

He called for service, but it was Christmas, so he was stuck in town for two days. On Monday, when a mechanic was able to check it out, he found that the thief had damaged the axle in his haste. More new parts than just a wheel and tire would be required. These were ordered, and arrived on Thursday… The day before New Year’s Eve.

Finally, the rig was rendered drivable, late in the day on Thursday, December 30, so the driver could spend New Year’s weekend crossing the United States, headed for a delivery in the Milwaukee area on Monday, a full week later than planned.

Now, some perspective.  He wasn’t injured; it wasn’t a mugging or a beating, or a truck hijacking or crash. The cargo wasn’t damaged or stolen either.  A wheel was stolen.  “Just a wheel, that’s all.”

Now, what did the thief really do when he stole that wheel? What did he really intend?

The criminal probably thought he was stealing a $500 or $1000 item from some big conglomerate. To hear some politicians talk about Big Business these days, the criminal element probably thinks that when you steal from a business, no individuals get hurt. It’s just those “fat cat companies,” who have money to burn, after all… in the Bolshevik rhetoric of AOC’s squad and the Biden-Harris regime.

But that’s not reality, is it?

In reality, this criminal didn’t just steal a thousand-dollar wheel. For one thing, the trucking company had to put up this driver in a hotel, and cover his meals, for an additional week in New Mexico. This cost wasn’t built into the quoted price for this load, but it isn’t high enough to meet the deductible on the company‘s insurance. The trucking company is taking a financial loss on this move, for sure.

But more importantly, this criminal stole a week of time, precious time, from this driver.

And during the holidays, too.  Of all the times to do it.

I don’t know this driver. But if we understand how over-the-road drivers’ lives work, we know that they value their time with loved ones as particularly important, because it’s rare. He knew he wouldn’t be home for Christmas, so he was counting on being home for New Year’s. And he was robbed of that. His family and friends, too, were robbed of that.

Or perhaps he wasn’t planning on being home for New Year’s either. Perhaps he was expecting to have a second cross-country load that week, and it’s the opportunity for that second load that was denied him.

The transportation industry works on very narrow margins. The driver himself doesn’t make much money, after the price of the move pays the lease on the truck, the fuel, the driver’s in-transit room and board, and the company’s overhead.

Whatever he lost this week -- whether it was time with family, or additional income, or a combination of the two – this was stolen from him by the crook who took advantage of a worker’s short lunch break to commit what might have looked like petty theft to a layman or to today’s bureaucrat.

The cities and counties of America now have dozens of district attorneys (many elected with massive funding from George Soros) who maintain that theft in this price range isn’t worth caring about, isn’t worth following up, isn’t worth reporting, much less prosecuting.

But crime costs more than a simple price tag.

This driver will never be as comfortable stopping along the road again.  Victims of crime lose a little bit of their innocence -- lose a bit of their happiness -- and that doesn’t get counted into the Marxist mathematics of a Kim Foxx or George Gascon.

The Left has always believed in an economic fallacy known as the broken window: The crime or accident of a shattered window creates work for a glazier that he would not otherwise have had, making the end result a societal good. The right, and in fact all sensible economists, recognizes this as a fallacy because of the lost opportunity of the window’s owner, who can now not spend his money the way he would have intended. He is denied the ability to take his family to dinner, to buy textbooks for his schoolchildren, to pay the heating bill for his home… all because he had to spend that money on a new window.

So too, the Left sees this story as a windfall for a mechanic.  But reality acknowledges the loss suffered by our driver. It’s not just about the price of the wheel; it’s about the cost to the driver’s personal life. Not only the lost income of those wasted days in New Mexico, but also, lost time with family and friends, stolen from him by a petty thief at a truckstop, on Christmas Day.

There are many reasons why we live in a more dangerous time than before. Some are perhaps hard to correct, which makes it all the more important to do what we can, where we can, because every crime has real effects like the one in today’s (true) story.

District attorneys who refuse to prosecute crimes… judges who refuse to properly sentence convicted criminals… governors who throw open the prison gates for mass releases at every opportunity… federal officials who have rendered our borders porous… mayors who encourage crime through “sanctuary city” declarations… these are things we can fix, at the polling place, on Election Day… and so we must.

Year 2022, we bid you welcome.

Hraphgic credit: Free SVG public domain

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