She's a Shoplifter!

Thank you Mark!

I am having some issues right now with my 16 yr old daughter, D_____. I may give you a call today. I am a single mother. Her father lives across the state in Memphis and is uninvolved. She is really a good kid with moments of complete stupidity. She is extremely intelligent, sensitive, caring and beautiful. She has been on the high school dance team for 3 years now. She takes honors and ap classes, although she has struggled all year. Self-discipline and motivation seem to be her obstacles. She is not a child that I would call blatantly rebellious. It's almost like she does well for a while and then seems to fall back into self-sabotage. She then moves on and is good for a while and then trouble. It seems to be a vicious cycle. Here are some of the issues that we've dealt with over the past 3 years:

- Underage drinking (huge problem with most of the kids around here). This seems to be improving though.

- Lying (consistent pattern)

- Sneaking out (twice that I know of....busted in the act once)

- Shoplifted earrings 2 yrs ago while visiting my brother and sister in law in Nashville. She was caught by the store security. He scared her pretty badly but they did not prosecute. This was a very traumatic event for all of us. We were stunned.

- Turning homework in late or just blowing it off occasionally. Typical example: All grades turned in are As and Bs. Then there will be a 0 here and there, which drops her grade dramatically.

- Periods of apathy, difficulty sleeping. She is on an anti-depressant and sees a counselor some but not regularly.

- 3 wrecks in the first 6 mos of driving. She has her own car....a 1996 Pathfinder that I found in great condition. The first wreck was probably unavoidable. The second one she backed into my neighbor's car in the parking lot of our condo. The third (last week) was from changing lanes and someone was in her blind spot. She did not look over her shoulder. This happened 5 days after we had gotten her car back from being fixed, from the first wreck. Her car is drivable and I have told her that she will have to pay to get it fixed. She is planning to get a job at the end of the month. (She has mono right now.) I am just praying that the insurance does not drop her. I have told her that, when the policy renews and the rates go up, that she will have to pay the difference.

- Unorganized and a tendency to lose things. Room is a mess. She cleans it up and it is a mess again with 1 day. Last year she lost her ipod, my digital camera and a Northface jacket within about a 6 mo period. I no longer by her anything expensive.

- And now for the current issue: She went shopping on Monday just to look at clothes. She did not have money to spend right now. On Tuesday, I discovered some new clothes in her room. I questioned her about it and she said that she had enough money for one thing and the other clothes belonged to her friend. I knew she was lying. My first thought was that she possibly wrote a bad check. However after investigating, I could not find any bags, receipts or evidence of her writing a check. My fear was that she stole the clothes. After confronting her last night, she confessed that she took them. Old Navy: shoes, a dress, a bathing suit. Kohls: flip flops, a bathing suit, a bra and a pair of shorts. She then tells me that she took care of it after school and took all of the clothes back to the stores and told the managers she shoplifted them. I didn't believe her and left the house shortly after our conversation. I drove straight to Old Navy and talked to the manager. She did not bring anything back there. Then I went to Kohls....same story. I told both managers that I would be back with her today to return the items. She has worn the dress and shoes, so we will have to pay for those. I am planning to take her to both stores this afternoon after school. She is bringing the clothes home. They are in her locker. Both places told me last night that they would talk to her but would probably not involve the police. Had she been caught in the act, they would have called them. I am just really worried about her and want to do the right thing. I am also extremely disappointed in her, as she knows the difference between right and wrong.

I've practically read all of the printable info from your website. I realize a lot of things I have been doing wrong. I am committed to changing my methods! Thank you so much for what you are doing. I can see it has made a difference in a lot of lives.

Thank you,



Hi E.,

I think you're right on track with how to handle this one.

Most teens shoplift because they:

·think the store can afford the loss
·think they won't get caught
·don't know how to handle temptation when faced with things they want
·feel peer-pressure to shoplift
·don't know how to work through feelings of anger, depression, unattractiveness, or lack of acceptance

In any event, take your daughter back to the store and find the manager. Then have your daughter confess, apologize, make restitution (i.e., pay for the items she took), and accept any legal consequences.

Know that once teenagers steal, it is easier for them to steal again. If police arrest teens for stealing, especially shoplifting, it is rarely their first time.


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