My dream last night explored the whole stealing-from-friends scenario a little further. Or, at least some of it did. The other part of the dream involved a remote Asian village. I don't know how that got in there.
So, in the beginning of this dream, it became known that a coworker of mine, his girlfriend, and another coworker of mine decided that they were going to steal a bunch of expensive stuff from two other friends of mine, the Steve and one of the Matthews who comments here. (I think this marks the first time that any of these five people have showed up in a dream, but you know how great my memory is.) Matt and Steve weren't in on the plan per se, but they were aware of it. They were quite against the whole thing, actually, not particularly wanting to have to replace all of those things or pay the deductible. So, things start out with the two potential theft targets and I walking along with the other three, trying to convince them not to steal everything valuable that Matt and Steve owned. I watched Matt break his own leg to distract the others from what they were talking about. It was kind of disgusting to watch.
We weren't successful. After taking Matt to the hospital, the others decided that they were going to go through with it, and insisted that we really had very little say in the matter. That storyline kind of ended abruptly and things switched over entirely to scenes in this weird Asian village that only appeared for a few seconds at a time during the first part of the dream. The people in this village had an innovative system of crime deterrence: every night, the people would vote, and whoever the people in the village thought was the worst criminal would be executed by fire. There were no trials and little in the way of laws, because if you did something really bad, you were very likely to be burned that night, and people avoided doing things that were even sort of bad, because they didn't want to be caught doing them on nights where nobody really did anything particularly terrible that day, since the rules said that someone had to burn every night.
This system ended up being too effective. Soon, people stopped committing what we would consider crimes altogether for fear of being burned. Eventually they got to a point where the infractions that were resulting in peoples' untimely deaths were things as minor as burning a casserole. At one point in the dream, I saw a few teenagers sitting in front of a computer Googling for the names of their village mates so they could find some dirt on someone else to be presented at the tribal council that evening, in order to spare themselves. (I thought it rather incongruous to see people using the internet in a dream that appeared to otherwise take place long in the past, but whatever.)
This dream actually kind of had an ending, which seems to be unusual for me. It ended with someone I cared about—I don't actually know who—being burned in the center of town that night for something incredibly minor and arbitrary. I was crying. It was the mandated death of this completely good and innocent person that brought the town's elders to their senses, and the daily burning policy was put to an end that very night. This, of course, was of very little comfort to her and myself, though, since she was already dead.
One of my more interesting dreams in a while. The whole Asian village plot could probably work well as a Twilight Zone / Stargate / Sliders episode.