Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER XVIII.: ON DOMESTIC THEFT. - An Essay on Crimes and Punishments
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CHAPTER XVIII.: ON DOMESTIC THEFT. - Cesare Bonesana di Beccaria, An Essay on Crimes and Punishments 
An Essay on Crimes and Punishments. By the Marquis Beccaria of Milan. With a Commentary by M. de Voltaire. A New Edition Corrected. (Albany: W.C. Little & Co., 1872).
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ON DOMESTIC THEFT.
In countries where a trifling domestic theft, or breach of trust, is punished with death, is not the disproportioned punishment dangerous to society? Is it not even an encouragement to larceny? If, in this case, a master prosecutes his servant, and the unhappy wretch suffer death, the whole neighbourhood hold the master in abhorrence: they perceive that the law is contrary to nature, and consequently that it is a bad law.
What is the result? Masters, to avoid opprobrium, content themselves with discharging the thief, who afterwards steals from another, and gradually becomes familiar with dishonesty. The punishment being the same for a small theft as for a greater, he will naturally steal as much as he can, and at last will not scruple to turn assassin to prevent detection.
If, on the contrary, the punishment be proportioned to the crime; if those who are guilty of a breach of trust be condemned to labour for the public, the master will not hesitate to bring the offender to justice, and the crime will be less frequent: so true it is, that rigorous laws are often productive of crimes.