CHAPTER 20

“I Won't Get Caught”

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Criminals strategize every move while planning crimes. They envision what will happen from the moment they dream up their escapade until after they make their getaway. They know the occupational hazards of the crime include the possibilities of getting caught, convicted, wounded, or even killed.

By the time a criminal is prepared to carry out his crime, he is certain he will succeed and he has completely eliminated these possibilities of failure from his mind. He is operating under the thinking error known as “superoptimism,” and regards the crime as not only completed, but completely wrapped up as an unqualified success.

The criminal with the “superoptimism” thinking error believes that if he decides he wants to do something, he can consider it as good as done.  As he plans his next illegal offense, he lives in a state of absolute certainty that he won’t get caught, no matter how ridiculous his plan.  He doesn’t entertain reasonable doubts about anything he wants done.

His experience supports this certainty.  He knows the likelihood of being arrested is low.  He previously has gotten away with crimes without anyone suspecting him as the perpetrator. Although he is aware of the possibility that he could slip up, that things can go wrong, he is absolutely certain that it won’t happen “this time.”

Inmates have come to understand that superoptimism is the thinking error that kills criminals more than anything else. As an offender gets away with more and more crimes, he becomes more and more emboldened and develops a sense of invulnerability.  He will begin to take greater and greater chances. In some cases, drug usage has contributed to this recklessness. Sometimes criminals who got away with complicated crimes in the past become overconfident and let down their guard, getting caught while committing a relatively minor offense.

If he plans to “one day” become a responsible person, he feels confident he will succeed at that too.  He uses super optimism to convince himself that he doesn’t really have to work at things to make them turn out all right … he believes things will just fall in place for him without effort.  He doesn’t see the connection between work and success … whether relating to a job, a relationship with someone he cares about, or staying out of prison upon release.

1. Criminals operate under the thinking error that they won’t get caught. But in the Old Testament, God knew people would get caught and decreed the punishment for each crime in advance.  What was the penalty for stealing in these verses?
  a) Proverbs 6:31:
   
  b) Exodus 22:1:
   

2. What was the penalty when someone was caught murdering another?
  a) Genesis 9:6:
   
  b) Exodus 21:12:
   

3. What was required before the sentence for murder could be carried out? (Numbers 35:30)
 

4. What was the penalty when someone was caught in a sexual sin?
  a) Leviticus 20:13:
   
  b) Deuteronomy 22:20-21:
   
  c) John 8:4-5:
   

5. Is it possible to “get away with murder” here on earth?
 

6. We may be able to hide our sins (crimes) from man.  But what do the following verses say about the possibility of hiding our sins from God?
  a) Genesis 3:8-10:
   
  b) Jeremiah 16:17:
   
  c) Jeremiah 23:24:
   
  d) Psalm 69:5:
   
  e) Hebrews 4:13:
   

7. A 20-year study found that 30% of the population will steal, not only if the opportunity arises, but also will create the opportunity whenever possible. The study found 40% will steal if there’s little danger of getting caught. Only 30% won’t steal at all, according to the study.  What was a typical reason given for stealing when caught?
  It’s a small item that won’t be missed.
  The company or government agency can afford it
  Everyone else takes little things.
  All of the above.

8. As believers, how should we respond when someone is caught in a sin?
  a) Galatians 6:1:
   
  b) Matthew 18:15:
   
  c) 2 Corinthians 2:7:
   
  d) 2 Timothy 2:25:
   

9. How would you counsel someone operating under the “I Won’t Get Caught” thinking error?
 

Continue to Chapter 21

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