Quotations about   theft

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I took such pains not to keep my money in the house, but to put it out of the reach of burglars by buying stock, and had no guess that I was putting it into the hands of these very burglars now grown wiser and standing dressed as Railway Directors.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
Journal (1857)
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Added on 10-Mar-20 | Last updated 10-Mar-20
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A real writer learns from earlier writers the way a boy learns from an apple orchard — by stealing what he has a taste for and can carry off.

Archibald MacLeish (1892–1982) American poet, writer, statesman
In Charles Poore, “Mr. MacLeish and the Disenchantmentarians,” The New York Times (25 Jan 1968)
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Added on 4-Oct-18 | Last updated 4-Oct-18
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Steal money, you’re sent to prison; steal a country, you’re made a king.

Other Authors and Sources
Japanese proverb
Added on 20-Jan-17 | Last updated 20-Jan-17
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When the rich rob the poor it’s called business. When the poor fight back it’s called violence.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
(Spurious)

Frequently, but incorrectly attributed to Twain, no earlier than 2015. It appears to have been an anonymous phrase coined in the Occupy Movement in 2011. See here for more information.
Added on 16-Jan-17 | Last updated 16-Jan-17
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[The] “robbing of the poor because he is poor,” is especially the mercantile form of theft, consisting in taking advantage of a man’s necessities in order to obtain his labor or property at a reduced price. The ordinary highwayman’s opposite form of robbery — of the rich, because he is rich — does not appear to occur so often to the old merchant’s mind; probably because, being less profitable and more dangerous than the robbery of the poor, it is rarely practice by persons of discretion.

John Ruskin (1819-1900) English art critic, painter, writer, social thinker
Unto This Last, ch. 3 (1800)
Added on 30-Dec-16 | Last updated 30-Dec-16
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For de little stealin’ dey gits you in jail soon or late. For de big stealin’ dey makes you Emperor and puts you in de Hall o’ Fame when you croaks.

oneill-dey-makes-you-emperor-wist_info-quote

Eugene O'Neill (1888-1953) Irish American playwright, Nobel laureate
The Emperor Jones, 1 (1921)
Added on 23-Nov-16 | Last updated 23-Nov-16
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I asked a man in prison once how he happened to be there and he said he had stolen a pair of shoes. I told him if he had stolen a railroad he would be a United States Senator.

jones-stolen-a-railroad-wist_info-quote

Mary Harris "Mother" Jones (1860-1930) American labor leader [a.k.a. Mother Jones]
Speech (1903), in The Autobiography of Mother Jones, ch. 10 (1925)
Added on 28-Oct-16 | Last updated 28-Oct-16
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Many a man is saved from being a thief by finding everything locked up.

howe-saved-from-being-a-thief-wist_info-quote

Edgar Watson "Ed" Howe (1853-1937) American journalist and author [E. W. Howe]
Ventures in Common Sense, 4.29 (1919)
Added on 21-Oct-16 | Last updated 21-Oct-16
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Some men rob you with a six-gun,
Some with a fountain pen.

Woodrow Wilson "Woody" Guthrie (1912-1967) American singer-songwriter and musician
“Pretty Boy Floyd the Outlaw” (1961)
Added on 14-Oct-16 | Last updated 14-Oct-16
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To tax the community for the advantage of a class is not protection: it is plunder.

Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881) English politician and author
Speech, House of Commons (14 Mar 1850)
Added on 3-Oct-16 | Last updated 3-Oct-16
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Money dishonestly acquired is never worth its cost, while a good conscience never costs as much as it is worth.

Jean-Antoine Petit-Senn (1792-1870) French-Swiss poet
Maxims and Ethical Sentences
Added on 26-Jul-16 | Last updated 26-Jul-16
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If you attempt to beat a man down and to get his goods for less than a fair price, you are attempting to commit burglary, as much as though you broke into his shop to take the things without paying for them. There is cheating on both sides of the counter and generally less behind it than before it.

Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887) American clergyman and orator
(Attributed)

Quoted in John Bate, A Cyclopaedia Of Illustrations Of Moral And Religious Truths (1865)
Added on 5-Jul-16 | Last updated 5-Jul-16
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I am convinced that every boy, in his heart, would rather steal second base than an automobile.

Tom C. Clark (1899-1977) American lawyer, US Attorney General, US Supreme Court Justice (1949-1967)
(Attributed)

Speaking of recreational programs to reduce juvenile delinquency. Quoted in Reader's Digest, Vol. 60 (1952). Restated as "I still believe that any boy would rather steal second base than an automobile" in Washington World, Vol. 3 (1963).
Added on 6-Jan-16 | Last updated 6-Jan-16
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Accepting praize that iz not our due iz not mutch better than tew be a receiver of stolen goods.

[Accepting praise that is not our due is not much better than to be a receiver of stolen goods.]

Josh Billings (1818-1885) American humorist [pseud. of Henry Wheeler Shaw]
Everybody’s Friend, Or; Josh Billing’s Encyclopedia and Proverbial Philosophy of Wit and Humor, “Stray Children” (1874)
Added on 29-Apr-15 | Last updated 29-Apr-15
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Still, I do not mean to find fault with the accumulation of property, provided it hurts nobody, but unjust acquisition of it is always to be avoided.

[Nec vero rei familiaris amplificatio nemini nocens vituperanda est, sed fugienda semper iniuria est.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
De Officiis [On Duties; On Moral Duty; The Offices], Book 1, ch. 8 / sec. 25 (44 BC) [tr. Miller (1913)]
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Original Latin. Alt. trans.:
  • "Not but that a moderate desire of riches, and bettering a man's estate, so long as it abstains from oppressing of others, is allow enough; but a very great care ought alwys to be taken that we be not drawn to any injustice by it." [tr. Cockman (1699)]
  • "The enlargement of fortune is blameless, while no man suffers by its increase; but injury is forever to be avoided" [tr. McCartney (1798)]
  • "Nor indeed is the mere desire to improve one's private fortune, without injury to another, deserving of blame; but injustice must ever be avoided." [tr. Edmonds (1865)]
  • "Nor, indeed, is the increase of property, without harm to any one, to be blamed; but wrong-doing for the sake of gain is never to be tolerated." [tr. Peabody (1883)]
Added on 27-Sep-12 | Last updated 26-Oct-20
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Fear: A club used by priests, presidents, kings and policemen to keep the people from recovering stolen goods.

Elbert Hubbard (1856-1915) American writer, businessman, philosopher
The Roycroft Dictionary (1914)
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Added on 11-May-10 | Last updated 14-Sep-20
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But if he does really think that there is no distinction between virtue and vice, why, Sir, when he leaves our houses let us count our spoons.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Comment (14 Jul 1763)

In James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson (1791)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 21-Apr-20
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Never thrust your sickle into another’s corn.

Publilius Syrus (d. 42 BC) Assyrian slave, writer, philosopher [less correctly Publius Syrus]
Sententiae [Moral Sayings]
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 15-Feb-17
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