The Frenchification of America

In France being a jeweler is tough work – Christine Boquet, president of the union of jewelers and watchmakers, says that “The number of jewelry store robberies has been climbing for years. There’s one robbery a day in France… This creates enormous stress for the merchants. They live with this fear and insecurity every day.”

Earlier this summer, a lone gunman was able to get away with $136 million dollars worth of jewelry in the resort town of Cannes. Just last week in Paris, thieves drove an SUV into a store and stole $2.7 million dollars in goods. With one robbery a day happening in the country, and amounts like this being made off with… it’s enough to ruin a businessman.

Let all of that sink in as we learn the story of 67-year-old jeweler Stephan Turk. Turk is a jeweler in the city of Nice on France’s southern coast. A few days ago he was accosted by a thief in his store. As the thief made his escape, Turk pulled a gun and shot the man three times, killing him. An accomplice escaped on motorcycle. Now Turk is being brought up on charges of murder for the killing of the teenage criminal.

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jewelry_heistThe prosecutor who is facing backlash from an angry public had this to say, “After he was threatened, the jeweler grabbed his firearm, moved toward the metal shutters, crouched and fired three times. He said he fired twice to immobilize the scooter and a third time he fired because he said he felt threatened… I’m convinced that he fired to kill his aggressor. When he fired, his life was no longer in danger.”

From the recounting of the story, I think the Prosecutor has the facts right, but the emotion wrong. The loss of millions or even thousands of dollars could be enough to drive a small businessman out of work. A crime like this could have a huge impact on the future of not just the business owner but the man’s family and employees as well. This is just one reason that in America, private property has always been sacrosanct… well, until very recently that is.

In the past couple of weeks we have seen a father in New Mexico charged with beating a man who was naked spying outside of his daughter’s window, and a Texas carjacking victim facing possible charges after killing his attacker. We must be careful to avoid the Frenchification of our justice system – our legal system is blind, but it is not stupid. Prosecutors and grand juries have the ability to look at the facts of the case and understand that in extreme situations, anything can happen. If a man or women is accosted with a gun, then it is the criminal who has just turned the situation into a game of life or death. When the victim responds with deadly force, even if we outside observers believe the danger has passed… their psychic and emotional state must be taken into account.

Was deadly force necessary in the French jewelry heist? Maybe not, but the jeweler should not have to pay the penalty for the thief’s violent crime. No one would have lost their life that day, had the thief not attacked the jeweler. When we become confused about justice our entire social structure is put at risk.


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