When I was in junior high school there was a real scandal in town when some guys were caught stealing stuff from local stores such as Taubman's, Food Fair and Read's Drug stores.
You will observe that all of these stores are now out of business, but I don't think this is attributable to the 14-year-olds and their theft ring.
But even though only two or three guys were involved (none of them I) we heard about it in school and in church and at home, for such was the ethos of the day: crime was wrong and everyone got hollered at over it.
And all they had ripped off was stuff of no value - hot rod magazines, cheap pocket knives, pocket combs. Which is not to say that they should have stolen more valuable stuff.
But it was small stuff, junk they shoved in their pockets before sauntering out of the stores in a nonchalant fashion.
Over the years, theft has become a much more specialized avocation, and here is the saga of a man from Ellicott City, MD, who got caught swiping stuff that he really couldn't put in his pants unless he were the Big Cowboy at the Woodstown Rodeo in New Jersey.
For, you see, Randy Penkert, who has spent 50 years with us here on earth, has pleaded guilty to stealing $222,000 worth of railroad track.
Last fall, CSX railroad police were investigating what happened to several hundred feet of rail, tie plates, bolts and spikes that used to be in a railroad yard in Howard County and now are not. Penkert was at the yard that day and produced a contract for the removal of scrap from the yard.
But the contract was as fakey as those nekkid pictures of Martha Washington you see online.
Sentencing will be on August 25. Penkert could receive as much as 15 years time in prison. And how cool would it be if they still used convicts with balls and chains to build railroad lines?
Penkert could say, "Hey! I know where we can get more of this stuff!"