Today I watched while a man walked into a pastry shop, took a large box of cookies and put it into his bag. He then walked out of the store and away, disregarding my stink eye on him.

  1. If I were to call him on it he would or run or say I was lying and there might be some Chilul Hashem חילול השם.
  2. The cookie boxes were placed at the entrance to the store and definitely fell under the category of Lifney Iver לפני עיוור, and probably the merchants have Yiush יאוש (this type of store expects things to be stolen on a daily basis).
  3. On the other hand, there's the factor of deterring the perpetrator; i.e., he will now steal more since he wasn't caught last time.

The questions are:

A: Am I obligated to chase the perpetrator / inform the store, when no reconciliation will come of it (including the store not changing the way they display the goods)?

B: Must I pay for the box, seeing as I did not do anything?

C: Would it matter if i was only 98% sure that he had actually stolen?

  • 1
    @SethJ, what do you think now?
    – msh210
    Mar 5, 2013 at 15:47
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    There is a lot of presupposed knowledge in this question. How do you know he was stealing (98% sure? How was this quantified?)? How do you know they have Yeush? What makes the Chillul HaShem of his denial more significant than the Kiddush HaShem of apprehending a thief (and why would his lying be a Chillul HaShem on your part)? How is the placement of the display Lifnei 'Iver? (@msh210, I'm still not satisfied. Maybe I'm being too picky, I don't know, but I'd rather he go to his rabbi for this - and tell the store owner!)
    – Seth J
    Mar 5, 2013 at 17:26
  • 1
    @SethJ, I think this just needs to be generalized. Want to try your hand?
    – msh210
    Mar 5, 2013 at 17:50
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    @msh210, ok, I'll give it a shot, but before I do, Yaakov, can you offer me some reason why this would be different if, say, it were a different crime than petty theft?
    – Seth J
    Mar 5, 2013 at 17:53
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    YaakovPinsky, I'm going to close this question as a temporary measure to prevent answers from being posted while the question gets edited. I'll be glad to reopen it thereafter.
    – msh210
    Mar 5, 2013 at 17:54