SD may be stealing from me . . .

stepmomof4December 11, 2009

My SD13 was caught stealing from a store when she was about 5. We have seen no signs of it since, until now. It is complicated and I could use your advice/opinions.

First we are not positive if she has taken these things or if they are misplaced. There is no smoking gun, but things are missing that we cannot find and they are the kinds of things that she would like. I know we cannot risk even implying that we think she stole unless we have that smoking gun. She has also begun to act a bit like a typical morose and snotty teen; judging everything and thinking she has all the answers. She has a cruel streak that surprises us.

It is not about the things, really, it is about trust and where she is going from here. I am afraid of the possible escalation, and the impact on her and the family, the influence on her younger sister.

It is heartbreaking and frightening to have a member of your family that you cannot trust.

What, if anything can we do? How to help her if you can't even say it out loud?

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Hmm, can't advise much on the typical teen behavior, it's just something we all have to deal with bio or step, they get moody in the teen years. This too shall pass.

As far as the possible stealing you could maybe call a family meeting with Dh & ALL the kids, have a list of things missing handy and ask all kids if they know whereabouts of misssing items. just to see if anyone caves & admits it.

Or you could snoop when they are at school to see if your missing things are where you think they are but I would only snoop with DH present as this could backfire on you if you do find something without him witnessing it.

Basically your suspicions are only that without proof. If you do find proof I would not confront her in front of the other children. I think the cause of the stealing could be much deeper than just "I want". At that point if the stealing is confirmed I would definately insist on some sort of therapy for her, or her along with you & DH. Hopefully your DH is open to this.

I hate to advocate snooping unless things are pretty dire. I only did it once with my DS and that was when a very close friend of his comitted suicide and I was very worried for his emotional state. But sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.


    Bookmark   December 11, 2009 at 3:39PM
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She has gone back to BM's house so could easily have taken it with her. By the time I discovered the possibility, she was long gone. I actually think her mom would condone stealing from me, she is rather unbalanced.

I offered $20.00 for the last missing item, if anyone found it, and no one looked, as far as I know.

I feel the same way about snooping that you do. Do you think it would be okay if DH looked through her bag before she went back to her mom's?

The family meeting is not a bad idea at all either. Do you think she would feel like we are implying she did it?

I just hate all of it and am incredibly apprehensive about all of the teenagers in my future. I want to run away but love DH to pieces.


Thanks, Cat!


    Bookmark   December 11, 2009 at 4:11PM
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I would ask your DH to do the snooping and looking if your suspicions are that great. Personally (and I may be wrong here) I'd have DH bring the bag to the kitchen table before she leaves and make her dump it. Not in front of the other kids though.

That way it is on him and you are not made out to be the baddie. You don't even have to be present, kwim?

I'm not sure what she would think but if all the kids are present at time of family meeting then I'd expect they would all deny it-that's just kids.(How can you tell if teenagers are lying? their lips are moving!) But whoever is doing it will know the jig is up and it had better stop.

Again I'd let it all come from Dh, it's just better this way. As far as running away-yea, most people with teens feel this way for a few years. And just when you get past the teen hormone years then here comes menopause-Yeah!

Fun, fun..


    Bookmark   December 11, 2009 at 4:21PM
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I am ashamed to admit that I am afraid of pissing her off, and she is only 13! I am afraid of her knowing that I am afraid! LOL!! When she is mad huge black clouds descend on the whole family. Then she goes home and tells mom all about how mean I am, plus she's Queen of all the grudge-holders. *shudder*

I LOVE the idea of DH being the "baddie". But she'll know it is about me and they always think I made him do it. I can't believe how kitty-whipped they think their Dad is!!

I think the teen age years and menopause wil overlap in my house and BM's as well. You'll probably see us all on the evening news some night . . .

    Bookmark   December 11, 2009 at 4:37PM
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My SD10's backpack is inspected every Friday when she is going to her mom's. It is also inspected on Sunday when we pick her up. It isn't 'snooping' when she is told that her pack will be inspected. She knows this BEFORE so she gets to make a decision on trying to take things she is not allowed to and taking a chance on getting caught. All of the video games she had went missing. The console is here and she took the games to her mom's and they got 'lost'. Now she has a useless console & her mom has useless games... unless she's got a console or did something eles with the games (like sold them or let her BF's kids have them) My point is that kids are NOT entitled to 100% privacy. They should not be strip searched or feel they have no privacy but they are not ENTITLED. lol, we all wonder why kids today have such a sense of entitlement? As a society, we walk on eggshells giving kids more rights than we had growing up... I can still hear my dad saying "as long as you live under MY roof ....!!!"

It's a shame when divorced parents put their anger at each other above doing what's best for their kids, like implementing discipline instead of encouraging bad behavior at the other parent's house.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2009 at 11:16AM
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I'm sorry, imamommy, I really disagree with you. :(

My kids have video games and they bring THEIR video games back and forth, and sometimes the consoles too. They can bring anything to their mom's that they want to, as long as it BELONGS TO THEM, with the exception of clothes. If they have a favorite item of clothing and/or a special occasion to dress for, we make an exception for that too.

There are so many step families these days. There are more step families than non-step families, I think. Culture has changed soooo much from when I was a kid. Things were so free and easy then. I will not raise my kids in a jail. There has to be a level of trust, at least until there is a reason not to.

What you're suggesting, with four kids, is a long drawn out inspection process every time we part ways and reunite. Their mom's and our houses are so drastically different that it amazes us all and the transition is hard enough and weird enough already.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2009 at 12:12PM
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My SO's DD who is 21 but was 18 when we have met. She took so much stuff from me I cannot even describe (simply packed into her duffle back and took with her to college). Of course not money and nothing trully expensive but still.

When we first started dating SO would refuse to ask DD to stop taking my stuff. But then eventually she was told to immdiatelly stop and never take anything of mine. She said she is not thinking when she is taking it, she just does it automatically and she is not sure if it belongs to me. SO told her that there are no other females in the house (unless DD28 is visiting) and whatever looks like female item belongs to finedreams and should not be ever taken out of the house wihtout permission. DD acted emebarassed and said she won't do it anymore.

some time passed and she started DOING IT AGAIN. She was told again and she did stop. the last thing she took was my hair brush, packed it up with her. She apologized and said it looked like hers that's why she took it. But the funny thing is that brush she is refering to is not hers either, it was also taken from me just few months earlier. LOL it is not like i miss my brush but when i get up in the morning to go to work and cannot brush my hair? not good. and no hair dryer (took that one too once), etc

Although i find it hard to call it stealing some of the itmes she took had certain value for me: were gifts from other people, were borrowed by me from other people-like books, were a neccessity for me, cost money etc

the thing is that I have a daughter of the same age and when she comes from college to me or her dads she certainly does not pack whatever she likes of mine or her SM into her suit case when we don't see it. Of course she uses our stuff both mine and SM in our respectuve houses and it perfectly fine and even encouraged (why dragging her stuff on airplane when she can use ours?)but packing it all up not asking? No never.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2009 at 12:21PM
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I would not dream of inspecting my daughter's backpack going to grandmas, dads, friends. i never ever snoopped or inspected anything. But then again DD never stole or never took something somewhere and thennever got it back (she lost her own stuff under her own bed LOL). But if she would be a stealing, hiding type then maybe i would have to inspect, hard to tell. I think amount of trust is needed but depends on the kid. I guess if I think they do drugs or steal or make a bomb ina basement then i would snoop.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2009 at 12:27PM
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I suppose if both of the parents allow the kids to take 'their' things back & forth freely, that is fine. When the other parent 'loses' things and they cannot be brought back, who do you think is hurt by that? It does not hurt us, we are not going to run out and replace those things. SD goes without her games and that is her consequence for taking them, but it doesn't stop at toys. It's been brought up in the past that problems with clothes and other necessities going back and forth is a major source of conflict... look up how many threads on sock wars.

You're entitled to your opinion. You posted for advice, suggestions or to vent and I am only offering MY opinion. But, I believe it was your question on checking the backpack and all I am saying is I think it isn't unreasonable to check for items that might not belong in there.... you can make your own rules about what that entails. My point is more that the parents do have a right to look in backpacks and they have a responsibility to teach their children right from wrong.. and that includes stealing... whether it's from the store or their stepmom. Of course, that's just MY opinion and nobody needs to agree with me.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2009 at 12:37PM
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Ima's right;
everybody, kids or grown-ups, is judged by their past behavior;
if you don't want your backpack searched, don't steal stuff.

There's no way I'd stand for *anybody* stealing from me.

Not only are you making yourself into a doormat, which means you'll be subjected to more violation, but it rewards this "child" (half-grown young person, *plenty* old enough to know better) for being a thief.

Rewarding a child for stealing is a vast disservice to that child & a vast abdication of parental responsibility.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2009 at 1:37PM
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If I were in your shoes I would leave like a 20.00 bill in a basket on the counter next time she visits, make sure to mark it somehow.....if it majically dissappears when she is there, then you know you have a big problem! At least you will know if someones stealing or not!

    Bookmark   December 12, 2009 at 8:22PM
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You never said what was missing .... Mine are allowed to take whatever they want back and forth except for "good pants and decent shirt" everything else goes back and forth if its missing you don't have it when you need it not my problem.....

XBOX is not allowed here though unless preauthorized why you say because they fight about it all the time! who is going to play it whose game it is ... and not just argue it becomes a physical battle .... so unless daddy says its ok they have to leave it at mom's ...

If you know for sure she is taking your stuff .... you could always remove her stuff one piece at a time until she says something .. then says sux when your stuff is missing who would take stuff that they know belongs to someone else what a horrible feeling to have your stuff go missing.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2009 at 12:30PM
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I do think that in her situation IMAS methods may be necessary. I preferred the less obvious approach of "helping" the kids pack their things. I would act helpful and be able to keep an eye on the things they bring. If they bring an expensive toy or game I would make mention of it to their other parent during pick-up. I would say ______ is bringing _____ with to your house, can you please make sure it comes back on Sunday? Then I am putting the kid and their other parent in charge of the item returning. If it does not return they simply do not bring anything else to their parents home till that item comes back. That usually does the trick.

psuedomom I think your idea is hilarious about removing stuff.

Honestly I like the idea about the $20 bill being set out in the open. I have a video camera and would even go as far as hiding it somewhere it could capture the stealing taking place. That way when I called the offender out on the theft I would have proof if they tried to deny it!

    Bookmark   December 14, 2009 at 1:32PM
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My SD12 took my earings a while back. I wouldn't call it stealing because she didn't want them she just didn't want me to have them anymore. My DH confronted her the next time we had them.she admitted to taking them. They were still at our house, she hid them somewhere. She went got them and gave them back. Now none of them are allowed in our room without us in there. If I were you I would have DH ask her. I was against it myself because I did not want to make her mad or accuse her of something. I knew one of the kids had taken them but I was willing to let it go so that feelings weren't hurt. If my DH had left it alone and not asked who knows what else would have come up "missing".She was acting out her anger against me. I think that she saw it as the only thing she could do. So maybe this is the case for your SD. I have become very close to this same SD these last few months.
I am very lucky to have such good Skids

    Bookmark   December 14, 2009 at 3:23PM
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OP said "I will not raise my kids in a jail. There has to be a level of trust, at least until there is a reason not to."

Sounds to me like you have that reason now.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2009 at 6:22PM
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I like the idea of setting a trap- the $20 left in the open . . . but I think we leave money around all the time and no one touches it. I know DH leaves money on his desk.

I like the idea of taking her things one at a time (lol!) though I wouldn't actually do it.

I think a lot of you misunderstood, perhaps. We don't know if she has taken anything yet, we just suspect it. How can we ask her or start inspections when we don't know for sure? I hate the idea of her feeling like we don't trust her, if she is innocent. I am not willing to take that chance. I am not a doormat, nor am I abdicating anything. I am also not a bully.

As far as her taking something from me because she was mad at me that makes PERFECT sense. One of the items she took was a necklace that came from my Grandmother. None of the three items we think she has taken could ever be replaced, and they were all mine.

Another idea I had, since my original post, was to show her where I keep my jewelry and tell her she can borrow things as long as she lets me know she has them and brings them back. This is not about the things she took, it is about her soul.

Thanks so much for your help I have some great options now!

    Bookmark   December 15, 2009 at 3:41PM
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I think the first thing I'd do in your situation is spend some serious time looking for the missing items, as you said, you're not sure they have been taken and merely may be misplaced. If the items have been misplaced rather than stolen and fingers have been pointed I think it will open the door for lots of hurt feeling and ongoing resentments.

If not found, you might then gather all the kids and tell them what has been 'lost' and how important the items are to you and you'd like them to spend the morning helping you search for them. Not helping in search is not an option, search is required by all.

If still not found or 'fessed up to, than on to any of your plan 'B' ideas.

I once found one of my earrings in the deep freeze. Must have fallen out when I was half in and digging. My cat has carried little jewerly items off to play with (fun to scoot across the kitchen floor until lost under the stove) and when my oldest kids where in high school the DD28 had a friend over that helped herself to a bottle of perfume when the guest friend used the bathroom (the girl returned it after asked if she's seen it the next time she came over).

Just tread easy till you're certain the girl has actually taken or hide the items.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2009 at 5:23PM
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"My cat has carried little jewerly items off to play with"

My 2 yr old boy kitty does this! I cannot leave any jewelry item out on my dresser top, or counter. I have found my necklaces more than any other items in the craziest places. I think they are easier for him to carry.

It is quite a co-inky dink that the items missing are of special meaning to you. I like the idea of making them all search for them!


    Bookmark   December 15, 2009 at 9:49PM
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