Gotta pick a pocket or two

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Christmas must be the silly season for media hungry clergymen.

A UK clergyman has advised his congregation to shoplift following his Nativity sermon.

Father Tim Jones, 41, broke off from his traditional annual sermon on Sunday to tell his flock that stealing from large high street chains is sometimes the best option for vulnerable people.

It is far better for people desperate during the recession to shoplift than turn to "prostitution, mugging or burglary", he said.

Father Jones insisted his unusual advice did not break the Bible commandment "Thou shalt not steal" - because God's love for the poor outweighs his love for the rich. Father Jones told the congregation: "My advice, as a Christian priest, is to shoplift.

"I would ask that they do not steal from small family businesses, but from large national businesses, knowing that the costs are ultimately passed on to the rest of us in the form of higher prices.

"I would ask them not to take any more than they need, for any longer than they need.

"My advice does not contradict the Bible's eighth commandment because God's love for the poor and despised outweighs the property rights of the rich."