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Wendy I'm affraid hypothetical thinking will do little to remedy this situation. Yes, it would have been nice for somebody not to remove the gnomes, but the world is far from idyllic- it's brutal and wretched. One must be more pragmatic when they encounter a situation like this; ' The gnomes have been damaged and, although it would have been better to have them remain within their original location, there are people who will transgress from the path of righteousness by removing them and inflicting damage upon them and thus one must do what the can to locate the perpetrators, rather than contemplate what the situation would have been like if human's weren't prone to committing dishonourable acts, as will do very little to rectify adverse circumstances'. However, I do very much appreciate your view in the way that theoretical thinking is of avail with concern to future scenarios because one can carry out actions that would minimise or, to a degree, prevent the recurrence of such acts. Perhaps I have enlightened you to the fact that potential advantages can arise from unintended actions.