Today's cartoon by Paul Thomas from The Daily Express relates to news that the number of young police officers in England and Wales has fallen by nearly 50% in two years. There were 9,088 officers aged under 26 in 2009-10 but only 4,758 in 2011-12, figures obtained by the BBC show. Full story >>
Two men are robbing a bank. They both have bags full of swag, an old-fashioned, informal word for stolen goods. A doddery, old policeman with a walking stick calls out, "Stop, thief!" One of the robbers comments, "Relax — he'll take ages to catch up ..."
'THIEF' VERSUS 'ROBBER'
These two words are closely related but differ slightly in meaning and usage. A thief is someone who takes another person's property without consent, or steals it. An instance of stealing something is called a theft. A robber is someone who uses intimidation or violence to obtain property from someone. The corresponding noun is robbery. You can rob a place or a person, but you cannot rob property (you steal a car, for example). And people always say 'Stop, thief!', not 'Stop, robber!'