say we know of someone who has acquired property that we highly suspect is stolen. are we morally obligated to report this possibility to the police.
Why wouldn’t you? If you know it’s stolen, then definately yes. But a suspicion? I’d say the same thing. To not say something would be making yourself guilty as well. Legally, I believe the term is “Accessory after the fact.” Although I doubt you could be held legally accountable. But morally, yes. You need to speak up.
If you don’t, you are participating in the evil. You are allowing evil to continue. :bigyikes: I don’t mean to sound harsh. But I have found, and heard, that we need to stand up to evil. Evil can’t continue if we do as we should. By living the gospel, we are countercultural. It sometimes means doing hard stuff, like “telling on” our friends.
To suspect something is stolen is not the same as knowing it was stolen. IANAL, but if you only suspect it was stolen, then you should mind your own business. If you know that it was stolen, then you might need to turn them in. Whether or not you should could depend upon the circumstances.
the police aren’t the true moral arbitors of justice. every person is. if you suspect that justice has been violated by someone, find out. if by your own agency, you can bring about justice, once you have determined that a person has been wronged, then do it. there is no reason that a person must be subjected to the civil law because they have stolen (or committed another sin.) what our Lord demands is that everyone be a minister of Justice and that, by whatever means, Justice reign in the world. if your own attempts fail, then enlist others. the primacy of civil law is a fallicy.
but don’t be fooled into thinking that you can protect all others in the world. the civil authorities also assure that people be protected in the future. they are not just punishers. don’t just settle a case and free an offender to prey on others. you have to love the innocent more than the guilty.
I’d say use discretion.
Depending on your relationship with the person, the nature of your evidence, and the item(s) involved, judge whether your intervention by calling the police is likely to result in justice or just a futile exercise of paper pushing which results in nothing useful.
If you have a good relationship with the person, then maybe you should ask him/her about it. If not, and you don’t have good enough evidence to be more credible than Gladys Kravitz (on Bewitched – may be misspelled) then just keep your eyes pealed and your mind alert.
If you know the victim, you might consider telling him/her what you know and letting that person decide whether you can assist in returning the goods.
If the police asked me about it I would have to give an honest reply. If I knew the person involved it would be my responsiblity to take the issue up with them directly in hopes of persuading that person to do the right thing. My obligation to report the crime would be dependent on the severity of the issue and on the certainty of fact.
The Church teaches that a person becomes responsible for the sins of another when he fails to disclose those sins when he is obliged to.
Of course, that’s the crux of the question before us–is there an obligation to disclose in this case?
The only thing that would make me think “maybe not” is the fact that the person in this case doesn’t really seem to know anything–he just has a theory based on his seemingly incomplete observations.