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Setting aside our disgust at the disruption of our value system, there are three major differences between the professional property offender (thief) and an “amateur” thief. First, the professional has a diminished moral capacity and multiple victims, while the amateur’s damage is much more limited. Secondly, the professional plans ahead, has a modus operandi, and an outlet for his booty (fence). Thirdly, the professional can only be stopped by incarceration, while the amateur will stop when his situation changes, because his theft is often a crime of sociological pressure and temporary opportunity (addiction, extreme poverty, underlying psychological problems, etc.). In sum, the professional must be combated with all the forces of law, while the amateur needs more sociological and psychological help to get his behavior back on track. So the law’s identifying the difference is essential to the sociological remedy.
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