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I think Dickens wanted to do a few things with the theme of "thievery". Certainly stealing was rampant in 1830's England. The disparity between "have" and "have nots" was huge. Thievery hence became a necessity for boys like Oliver simply to survive. External influences created criminal behavior as much or more than natural criminal urges. Dickens also wanted to show the pitfalls of criminal life as well; it was certainly not glamorous.