The severity of the sin of robbery is well known. In fact, our Sages commented that the sentence of the generation of the Flood was not sealed “except on account of robbery” (Sanhedrin 108a). As long as a person has stolen property in his possession his prayers are not answered, and he will have to return to this world as a gilgul (a returned soul) in order to make restitution for what he has taken. Stealing from a non-Jew is worse than stealing from a Jew because it also carries the severe sin of desecrating the Name of Hashem. It is forbidden to mislead a non-Jew. Even selling him non-kosher meat as though it was kosher, or to give him counterfeit coins as thought they were legitimate, or to mix bad fruit with good ones etc. — this is all forbidden and is considered actual stealing.
Borrowing an item without the owners knowledge is stealing, yet many people are guilty of this. One must be careful to not accept food or anything else from a person who only gives it out of embarrassment to say “no” and the like, for this too is an aspect of robbery.
One must be very careful about stealing from the public, for otherwise the person’s sins are multiplied by the number of people he stole from. If it is difficult to return a stolen item from even an individual, then all the more so is it difficult to repent when one robbed the public. People who owe money to the community for fees that were not paid are considered to have stolen from the community. The types and sub-types of robbery are many—as are the types of rationalizations that people come up with to justify their following the suggestions of the Evil Inclination. These are the people that do not come to seek God’s will and listen to lessons.