My friends teenage son is stealing from me.

(41 Posts)
ingestre Tue 16-Apr-13 18:34:54

I have an ethical dilemma where I cannot work out what to do. I have a couple who are good friends of mine, who have a teenage (16) son. Recently I've found out that he has been stealing from me.

I get on well with the boy in question, and have often asked him to feed my cats when I am away. Because of this he has a key to my house.

I noticed that money was going missing from a savings bottle I keep by my fireplace and set up a motion sensing camera to see what was happening (Might have been the cats ... you never know).

The bottom line is that I now have absolute proof that he is stealing from me. My estimate is about £400-£500 pounds over about 10-12 months.

Things I don't want to happen

a) The kids life is ruined
b) I lose my friends (They are good people)

Things I do want to happen

a) I want my money back
b) The kid realises at a very deep and emotional level that he has done the wrong thing.

Some background info....

1) I was warned by someone else to watch out for this kid - He had (apparantly) stolen from then before but they didn't have proof (I couldn't believe it at the time).

2) I don't have children myself.

3) The kid is trying to enter the marines - I attended his ceremonial entry into the cadets and have encouraged him whereever I can.

So.....What do I do. Police? Parents? A swift physical retribution (I'm angry right now....!) I could really do with your advice.

Yonihadtoask Tue 16-Apr-13 18:39:05

I don't think you can't involve his parents.

It would be nice to say that you can just confront the boy and tell him that you know - and make arrangements for him to pay it back. However as he is under 18 - his parents are liable/responsible for him to an extent.

Police would be a very last resort- as it would impact too much on his future. (unless of course he shows no remorse for his actions).

purplewithred Tue 16-Apr-13 18:39:23

Tricky. Very very tricky.

My feeling is it's fairest to talk to him first and give him a chance to apologise and repay you. But with the understanding that if it doesn't get sorted out sharpish you will tell his parents.

MaryMotherOfCheeses Tue 16-Apr-13 18:41:10

Can you talk to him direct? Sit him down and just say you know what has been going on?

I'm not surprised you're angry.

LynetteScavo Tue 16-Apr-13 18:41:24

I would go to the boy and his parents (with your proof in case they ask to see it) and say what you have said here.

If they are good parents they will make sure he gives you the money back and deal with it the best they can. If there is a bigger issue, they may ask you to go to the police.

Stress you don't want to lose their friendship over this, and continue to offer them your friendship in the future.

Timetoask Tue 16-Apr-13 18:42:40

I would tell the parents. In their place I would like to know that my teenage son is doing this and put a proper remedy in place.

Heinz55 Tue 16-Apr-13 18:43:37

We had a smilar-ish problem. Although we weren't good friends with the parents they were family friends. DH showed her the video and didn't say a word (he had an off-duty police friend there too) and when she saw the vidoe footage she cried and apologised and was generally horrified to realise it had all been caught.

YohedYoshoulderYonisandYotoes Tue 16-Apr-13 18:47:12

I think you should contact his cadets leaders, tell them and give instructions whilst they beast him ragged and is crying because of the physical pain he is in, then make him do £500 worth of physical work around your house under strict supervision in incredibly tight timescales so that he is fucking exhausted.

The marines don't like untrustworthy bastards who might steal from their colleagues - so I think they might quite enjoy meting out a punishment army style..

armagh Tue 16-Apr-13 18:48:07

Sorry Heinz , it is not clear. Who was crying ? The thief or the mother of the thief?

Yonihadtoask Tue 16-Apr-13 18:49:29

I feel for the boy. Yes, stealing is wrong - but kids do make mistakes. They don't always realise that their actions will have repercussions.

I say that from a personal experience as a teenager. Teens are still learning about right and wrong.

YoniMcShoni Tue 16-Apr-13 18:52:52

Definitely tell the parents.

But if you like the boy and have his best interests at heart I would probably give him some time to make amends first.I would not threaten to tell his parents to make him do this by the way.I would wait and see if he comes up with the goods. In fact I would probably not let on that there was a video either -maybe just hint that some items were marked and noted before and after his visits as your 'proof'.

If he was just trying it on and waiting to see how much he could get away with he may be ready to stop stealing and start behaving properly.

However if none of your efforts work then you still have the evidence ready to show -without warning- to the parents.

alarkaspree Tue 16-Apr-13 18:58:33

I would definitely tell his parents. At 16, if they are good parents, they will be best placed to make sure he learns the best lesson he can from this. If you don't tell them then realistically how is he going to pay you the money back? He will also have the opportunity to spin his parents a story about why you are angry with him, which may make you seem very unreasonable.

Maybe you could ask them to all sit down together and let him have the opportunity to confess before you tell them. But they are going to have to know.

I'd also be ready to forgive him. Teenagers do stupid things but this doesn't make him irredeemable. If you are friends with his parents he could still be a part of your life in 30 years' time. Maybe a lovely one.

WeAreEternal Tue 16-Apr-13 19:05:23

IIWM I would first approach the boy. I'd tell him I knew he had stolen from me, i have evidence and I want every penny paid back immediately.
If he does not pay it back, or he blatantly denied it, or refused to pay it back I would tell him my next meeting will be with his parents, I will show them the evidence and tell them everything, then if he still refuses to admit it I would tell him my next stop will be with his cadets/marines recruitment officer.
If he still refuses I would tell him my final visit would be with the police.

If after those threats he still refuses to admit it and pay the money back I would go straight to his parents. Hopefully that would shock him into admitting it, but I would absolutely carry out my further visits and possibly drag him along too.

He clearly thinks this is acceptable and doesn't care about breaking your trust.

And regardless if his reaction I would still tell his parents. They have a right to know.
I would maybe send them a letter explaining that I don't blame them at all or hold them in any way responsible for his actions.

ingestre Tue 16-Apr-13 19:52:14

OK - Lots of advice here. Thank you for all of the advice - I don't have kids here and don't really know how to deal with this. That being said my initial reactions are ....

@ Everybody - I know the police kinda take the hard line, but why was nobody advocating this course of action? Are all your little darlings above the law? What is the age of criminal consent anyway? (I don't know)

@ YohedYoshoulderYonisandYotoes - Love this option - seriously. Lets remember though that the cadets is optional - He'll just duck out and enter society as a known thief. I want this kid to reform and prosper - remember?

If I just change the locks and shun this kid - Am I doing the right thing?

SanityClause Tue 16-Apr-13 20:03:16

I thought you didn't ant to ruin his life or lose your friends. confused

YohedYoshoulderYonisandYotoes Tue 16-Apr-13 20:29:05

I think he would still listen to cadets officers though - drop him off and they can go to work on him and tell him after his beasting - he won't just sack it off if he is in a field getting shouted at!

Though I am feeling bad in one way - what if he is very miserable about something and trying to lift his self esteem by having some money - its weird I know but I did this once - though the 'theft' was much smaller' - but then I was a lot younger - about 6..

LittleBairn Tue 16-Apr-13 20:33:36

I would tell his parents I would absolutely not want him to think he can get away with it. Tell him you expect it to be paid back by X date if not you will go to the police.

DiscoDonkey Tue 16-Apr-13 20:35:03

IMO I would sit him down and show him the evidence then give him his options.

Either he calls his parents and tells them himself what he has done AND finds a way to pay you back.

Or

You phone the police.

DiscoDonkey Tue 16-Apr-13 20:36:32

If you change the locks and shun him you have taught him nothing. He clearly has no respect for you as he is stealing from you so to be shunned by you would be of little consequence IMO.

Jammybean Tue 16-Apr-13 20:38:58

I would question him first, give him a chance to admit and repay the money etc. If he denies any involvement, inform the parents then go to the police. I think if its a first offence the Police will only caution him. Several hours in a cell might just give him a short sharp shock and make him realise the error if his ways.

LittleBairn Tue 16-Apr-13 20:39:09

The reason people are saying not to inform the police it because YOU said you didn't want to ruin his life, a police record may prevent him going into his chosen career.

Criminal consent is 8. A 16 year old absolutely knows this is wrong I certainly don't agree with he doesn't understand hmm but I do think he's still young enough to change as a person IF he knows he has been caught and there is consequences if its ignored he will think he's invincible.

twooter Tue 16-Apr-13 20:42:12

You were warned he had stolen before. Therefore it seems to be becoming a habit. Definitely approach him with his parents.

miggy Tue 16-Apr-13 20:44:36

seems a lot of money to go missing from a bottle of change in a short time, lucky if £2.50 has accumulated in mine over that time?
has he stolen other money from elsewhere?

I would approach him and his parents with my evidence and hope that with his parents help you may reform/teach him the error of his ways, whilst getting your money back and keeping your friendship. Up front, clear that you expect recompense and clear that your feelings of betrayal and anger are appreciated. I would, if I liked the boy and had his best interests,d also express my concern for him and his future. Oh, I would also change the locks. Regardless of any other action.

I wouldn't have suggested police as you stated you did not want to ruin his future, you wanted to maintain friendship with his parents and were hopeful for his reformation, and your money back If you go to the police you are unlikely to achieve any of these aims.

ImTooHecsyForYourParty Tue 16-Apr-13 20:54:31

You have GOT to involve his parents.

As a parent, I have to tell you that the one thing I would NEVER forgive a friend is denying me the knowledge I need to ensure that my child is not doing the wrong thing.

If someone's child is a thief, they HAVE to know. They HAVE to be told.

To not do so is wrong. You are stopping a parent from being able to deal with their child.

Whatever else you choose to do, you must tell his parents.

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