In Defense of Property

Listening to the radio this morning, I heard an expert on ethics say that some violation of people’s privacy might be justified for crimes against people, but is not justified for property crimes.

Every time I hear this distinction – that crimes against property are not as serious as crimes against people – I take umbrage.

A crime against my property is a crime against me.

Consider my car. I spent a considerable portion of my life earning the money that was required for me to buy my car.

If it’s a twenty-thousand dollar car and I earn sixty-thousand dollars per year after taxes, that car represents four months of my life, or approximately eighty-six work days. If some low-life torches my car after a hockey game, then they have destroyed the product of eighty-six days of my life. Eighty-six days that I’ll never get back.

Why is that time important? It’s important because those are days that I sacrificed a significant part of my freedom. I spent those days working under the direction of someone else for their benefit, not for my own.

An hour at work is not as unpleasant as an hour in jail, but it incurs the same human cost. It is an hour in which I was not free to sit on the beach, watch a movie, or ride my bicycle down a country lane.

So, the next time you tell me that theft, vandalism, or negligence wasn’t so bad because it only destroyed my property, don’t be surprised if I react as strongly as if my life span had been reduced by an equivalent amount. It has.

Yours, Ashley



About Ashley Zacharias

I'm a post-modern woman who lives a vanilla life and dreams about kinky adventure. I write BDSM pornography but have no interest in acting out my fantasies in real life. Find my work on and
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5 Responses to In Defense of Property

  1. Brett says:

    Property is to some extent replacable – violations to a person are somewhat more difficult to provide restitution for. Of course, the emotional attachments to that property cannot be easily restored, but then nobody is arguing that property crimes are not serious.

    • The property is replaceable, but the time I spend acquiring it is not. All we have is a certain number of hours of life, to spend as we choose. I will react badly to anyone who takes my time without fair compensation. And I reserve the right to determine what is fair.

  2. Brett says:

    Certainly, but at that point your time has already long since been exchanged for property.

    Perhaps I have a different perspective on the issue from having grown up in a socialist country? I understand that I exchange time (and skill, which is largely time I’ve invested previously) for material wealth, but if that it taken from me I’m only materially poorer, and can be fully compensated.

    Similarly, if someone were to gift me an expensive item, I’d see that as a material gain, not a gain of the hours I would have to work in order to be able to purchase it for myself.

  3. Charles E. Goings says:

    Crimes against property are less likely to result in injury to either the perpatrator or the victim, and in that resides the “seriousness” of the crime as viewed by the authorities. Burglary in the first degree (burglary that takes place at night , of an occupied dwelling) carries a life in prison sentence in most states because of the danger of violence to either the burglar or the victim. Defense of property ,in the above captioned instance, does justify death as a response to the crime. This may be an extreme example, but certainly not unusual today.

    • You are correct that I do not want to suffer an injury. Injury reduces my quality of life, both during the time that I’m recovering and to the extent that the injury causes a permanent change in my life. That happens after the crime has occurred. I would submit that destruction of my property also reduces the quality of my life, but before the commission of the crime. I already have used some portion of my life in some way that I would not have preferred in order to earn the property. For some reason, the law tends to view that sunk cost as less important than the value of a post-crime reduction in the quality of my life. I think that the law should view any reduction to the quality of my life as proportional to the cost to me, regardless of whether it occurred before or after the crime occurred.

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