Collecting Rocks = Stealing?

So me and my father went for a walk. We took a walk around where they are making a new road. On the side of the road there are lots of rocks left behind from when they made the road. I like rocks, so I grabbed a few. My father said that I was “stealing” the rocks. How could I possibly be “stealing” the rocks if they belong to nobody except God? :confused:

In case you were wondering, my father is not religious.

You are not stealing the rocks. Nobody owns the rocks. They can not be stolen.

Are you speaking to someone about scrupulosity?

Nonetheless, we need to be careful. From a moral standpoint, picking up rocks outside of private property is not stealing, but in certain areas, such as riverbanks, national parks and other natural reserves, picking up rocks may be in violation of certain codes. E.g. it may be illegal to remove rocks, or beyond a certain number of them, from riverbanks.

Your dad is just messing with you, I’m sure. I know I certainly tend to stretch the baloney for all it’s worth when my nieces and nephews are around. My sister tells her kids not to believe anything I tell them.:smiley:

Take all the rocks you want, and if they want 'em back, simply return them.

Thanks for the replies! :slight_smile:

I figured he was just messing with me. I really should look through my catechism. Unfortunately I don’t exactly know how to read it.

While that is true, particularly in state or national parks, it would not be true along a roadbed.

It’s just a scruple, it’s not stealing because nobody owns that. Might want to speak to a spiritual director if your scrupulosity gets bad.

If they had not built the road and that was bought and paid for gravel or such… like technically if you took rocks of my driveway. Kind of stealing. But if it is just left over from digging? pfft, you are actually helping clean…TAKE ALL THE ROCKS.

It could be stealing. If there were a pile of rocks that had gold ore in them and the owner was waiting to process them, then it likely would be stealing. If they were a pile of rocks leftover from a construction project that was destined to sit there for all eternity, then it wouldn’t be stealing.

Taking that which does not belong to us without permission is stealing. Simply because we don’t know who owns a particular item (rock, tree-fallen or not, flower) doesn’t mean it is ours to take without permission.

Melodeonist - On the first two pages of this subforum, you have asked whether you mortally sinned in stabbing a piece of paper, whether you mortally sinned in receiving the Lord after that same “sin,” whether you were gravely responsible for having accidentally forgotten to confess people possibly doing something maybe vaguely like cheating on your tests, whether you sinned in using a certain kind of lip balm, and whether you have sinned in “stealing” rocks from the side of the road.

Friend, you need serious help. See a clinical psychologist about OCD, and force yourself to think that whatever you are not absolutely positive is a sin IS NOT A SIN. You will do better in trying to swing to the opposite vice… You’ll start to find the middle.

Remember that the next time you are breathing!

I’m not worried that everything is a sin. I’m simply confused about what is considered a sin or not.

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’** 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Focus on that, not the rulebook. The former makes the latter fall into place.**

I’m not going to address the rock issue but the bolded one. Reading the catechism isn’t difficult. You can just start at the beginning and read it. Another way is to go to the index in the back, find a topic you want to know more about and read the paragraphs regarding that topic. At the bottom of the page there are footnotes, mostly from scripture that will lead you to more information about that topic.

My catechism has sticky notes marking pages and many paragraphs highlighted and is well used.

Then you will need to study principles, not individual cases.

I can only think of one circumstance where you might be “stealing rocks”. In the dry southwest some people have “zeriscaped” gardens which they artfully arrange rocks with native plants between them.

But since you are in Conn that would not be a problem for you to even consider. :slight_smile:

Left to right, then down,

When I went to the Petrified Woods National Park, signs were posted not to take the rocks. The rocks are petrified pieces of trees, so they are very rare. Pieces were available in the gift shop.

As I left, I saw one car pulled over by a park ranger, who was searching the trunk.

In other parks, people are also warned not to put pins in the rock when you are climbing a rock wall. It causes cracks. The best thing to do would be to check with the park officials.

God bless,


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit