Stealing - he's crossed a line and there's no going back

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by rlsnights, Mar 9, 2011.

  1. rlsnights

    rlsnights New Member

    difficult child 2 used one of our credit cards on-line to purchase points for an on-line game 8 times in the past 2 weeks. I just discovered it last night. Fortunately it was small amounts and totaled less than $100 but we are strapped right now and don't have that $100 and he knew it.

    He lied to me about it yesterday morning when I first discovered the transactions on our credit card. So I reported them as fraudulent charges given that it was a European company and small amounts. I've had that happen before when the info was stolen from the legit company. I didn't have time to do a more thorough investigation at that time.

    Last night I looked at the game website and pulled up the billing records. There were none including no credit card info. Next I went looking for a way to contact them and tell them our info had been stolen. Found the info that they sent e-mails to confirm all transactions. I'm not sure why I did it but I insisted my son open his e-mail account so I could see if there were any confirming e-mails.

    There weren't any in the inbox. So I checked the junk mail folder. Nothing. Then I checked the trash can. And there were half a dozen e-mails confirming his purchases. I went back to the website and checked his points use and that also showed that he had used a lot of points that had to have been purchased.

    He was in the room with me while I was doing all this and when I found the e-mails in his trash can I asked him why he had deleted them just to see what he would say. He said he just deleted them without looking at them because he thought it was advertising.

    At that point I told him that it was clear he had been stealing from us using the credit card and I was calling the credit card company to withdraw my complaint about the charges. I stayed very calm which I don't think he expected. He whined that he had only done it because we had taken his X-box away. I just looked at him. He blew up and started screaming about how this was our fault and using a lot of foul language. I told him he needed to go to his room. He came over and spit on me where I was sitting at the computer and started screaming again. I continued to just sit there and say nothing for a minute then I got up and silently left the room.

    He followed me down the hall so he could fight me if I tried to go into his room. Just past the door to his room I stopped and turned around. I looked at him and said " You have crossed a line there is no going back from. You have stolen from us and we cannot trust you." then I turned and went into my room just a couple steps away.

    He tried to force his way into the room but I shut it in his face and turned the dead bolt.

    He then went and took the modem and router for our computer and left the house in a rage. wife and I went outside and calmly told him he had to give us the computer equipment but he ran off. He was in t-shirt, shorts and no shoes and it was about 45 outside so we knew he'd be back soon.

    Maybe 15 minutes after he took off I went outside to make sure our car was locked up so he couldn't hide in there- something he's done in the past when he took off. I found the computer equipment on the ground nearby, undamaged.

    Another 20 minutes or so later he came slamming back in the house and started taking supplies to his room - fruit, water bottles, crackers, peanut butter. I asked him a couple times what he was doing and he refused to say anything to me.

    After 3 or 4 trips like that he slammed the door to his room and started making noise like he was moving furniture around. He had shoved his bed in front of the door blocking it from being opened. When I knocked on his door a while later he told me to f&*^ off over and over.

    I know those of you who have had this experience will not be surprised to hear that I am so sad I can hardly express it. Now we have to take steps I had hoped to avoid and take a path with him I had prayed we would not have to walk. The fact that he did it several times, lied about it and attempted to cover it up makes it very clear that he knew that it was wrong and he did it anyway.

    So I am checking all our other accounts. Changing passwords. I already blocked that company with the one credit card he used with them and requested a new card. I have to figure out exactly how I am going to find a way to lock up all our financial records so he can't get them without using a crow bar but I am going to do that today if I can. Lock up my purse from now on. And until then I won't leave him alone in the house.

    I am stripping him of internet access on his own user and don't expect to give him any computer time except as needed for school for a very long time. I am closing his Xbox live account because I'm not sure I will ever agree for him to get it back.

    When I can get him out of the house we are going to take his door off the hinges and I am going to strip his room of everything except his bed and clothes.

    I expect to need to call the police when he discovers that I have taken these steps because I know he will flip into a total rage when he discovers that we have done this so I am trying to figure out how I can lock up my computer monitor and other easily broken parts beforehand.

    Because he believes we have victimized him for taking away his X-box as a consequence for his aggressive and abusive behavior he decided to victimize us in return.

    And to make things worse, wife made this easy for him to do. Without telling me she bought him points for this game online 2 weeks ago. AFTER we had agreed we were not buying him any games or letting him have computer time for games on days he didn't go to a full school day. I am so angry with her I can hardly speak. She used HIS account name and HIS password and then left the credit card information on the account so it was easy for him to just buy more points without our knowledge.

    She just cannot stand confrontation and so she buys him off to avoid conflict. I am trying to decide what to do about that but this morning when we finally had a chance to speak privately I told her I was locking everything up and that we could no longer trust him at all. I told her I wanted her to take the door of his room. I also told her I was upset that she had bought him points after we had agreed we would not buy him that kind of stuff. She said it was a long time ago and I said, NO, you bought him the points less than 2 weeks ago.

    She just stood there for a minute and then said she was sorry. I told her that we could not let him victimize us financially. That this time is was only a small amount. But next time it might be enough to destroy us - if we let that happen.

    She said she knew that and then left for work.

    I am thinking of insisting that she attend Co-dependents anonymous meetings or something. We just started family therapy last week with our daughter. difficult child 2 refused to attend. Now one of us will have to stay home with him rather than go to therapy.

    And I guess we will need to put a deadbolt on our daughter's door so she can protect her stuff from him too.

    I'm trying to decide if I am going to tell his godmother that she can't leave her purse out when she's here.

    Underneath it all I feel like this is our fault because we have not been consistent with him about consequences for inappropriate behavior and because, as parents, we have not presented a united front. I feel like I should have anticipated this behavior and locked everything up long ago.

    If I could I would throw him out of our house right now. We have been down this road already once with a kid who we could not kick out until he was 18 because his physical disabilities were so severe we would have been accused of child abuse.

    I realize this may be an "over-reaction" to what might seem a small error in judgment on his part. I want to believe that he will shift out of the victim mentality and start to connect his behavior with the consequences of that behavior thanks to this incident. I want to believe that we are not now entering a nightmare that is going to last 2 or 3 years until he's 18 and we can legally kick him out.

    But I don't believe it. And I am devastated.

  2. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I am very sorry that it has come to this, but not surprised. Do not allow yourself to feel guilty because you didn't lock things up long ago. As long as your wife was not willing to stand firm there was little you could do. At this point, I think couples counsellling for both of you and therapy for codependency for wife would be good.

    I think removing his door is a good idea, so is stripping his stuff. I would leave 7 outfits that YOU approve of and get rid of the rest. If you can, get a storage unit off site and put his stuff there. Move your computer monitor, big screen tv, etc... into your bedroom. A deadbolt on your daughter's door is also a must - she must be able to be safe from him and to keep her things safe. He WILL go after her and her stuff if he can.

    You CAN choose to let the credit card co press charges against your son for the theft. It IS a crime. You will be forced to go to court with him and it will likely be a LOT more expensive than the $100. They may force you to pay for his lawyer - isn't THAT bizarre? - but it is a choice. I am not advocating this, at this point, but if any further theft occurs I would seriously think about pressing charges.

    i am sorry that you and your wife have to endure this, and I think if you are going to make it as a couple that you need to go to some marriage/couples therapy because otherwise this issue is going to tear you apart. difficult children are incredibly hard on relationships of every kind.

    Do whatever is needed to protect your daughter. She is a true target and he may already have done or be doing things that will horrify you - she likely won't tell as long as she thinks he can get to her. It was only because I walked in on it that I learned that my difficult child was trying to kill my daughter. He had been doing it for a LONG time - she didn't tell because he threatened her. So do all you can to protect your daughter. I would add an alarm to her door in addition to the deadbolt. That way if he gets through the lock the alarm will wake up everyone if he opens it. Make sure it is on daughter's side of the door so she can turn it off if she had to go to the bathroom or something else in the night. They are pretty cheap and can be found at walmart and/or radio shack usually.
  3. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Hi Patricia,
    boy, this sounds familiar! difficult child can no longer go on any computer alone. Period. I dismantled easy child's computer and his (and his didn't even have Internet access) and I have a lock on my ofc. door.
    He bought game stuff online, too, and used my credit card.
    We had a different sort of scene.
    Since we have already had the police at our house, and he has seen them give us their biz cards and say, "If you need us again, don't hesitate to call. And next time, we'll put him straight into juvenile detention," I can use the police idea to scare him straight.
    I sat him down in the LR and said, "So, what made you steal my credit card and buy computer games?"
    Being an Aspie, he can't stand to have things a little "off," so he corrected me and said, "They weren't games. They were sort of gifts you buy for other people online and I owed them."
    "So, do want me to call the police right now, or should I wait for your father to get home?"
    His face turned bright red and he started to get teary eyed and he said, "I don't know."

    Long story short, he still has the door attached to his room, only because we're too lazy to take it off.

    I agree, put a lock on your daughter's door, especially if she has a computer. If your difficult child is in the least bit Aspie (and your profile sig said Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)-ish) he is addicted to video games and lord knows what else, and has no impulse control.

    It is really, really hard to outsmart these kids and to predict what they are going to do next, so don't beat up on yourself too badly. Just try to prevent as much as possible and then do damage control when you have to.

    Oh, and by the way, when you stay in a hotel room, do not leave him alone. He can watch or play anything on the hotel TV because your credit card is already on file at the front desk. We learned THAT one the hard way! You have to tell them at the outset that you want NO TV or games. Period.
  4. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Patricia, I am bending over backwards here to see things form his PPOV. And I'm sorry to say, a big problem is there, a big part of the cause, in the inconsistency he has been exposed to. I'm betting he has been using his crowbar in the chink between you and wife, playing one against the other. He knows you are the stricter one so he leaned on wife to give in to him. And when she did, in his mind it gave him tacit permission to keep doing it. It's such a short step from "She gave me what I wanted; she would do it again if I asked. Hey, the info is still here so she must mrean for me to access it whenever I want it."

    In his mind, he did not do anything really wrong. OK, maybe he should have asked first, but in his mind she would have said yes. Eventually. She has before.

    So there is problem No 1 for you - you MUST be on the same page. She must NOT give way without talking it through with you. You need to be sure you can rely on one another, or don't even go there. The last thing you need is the confusion of "good cop, bad cop". Thee is a reason why this is a cliche in police interrogation - because it throws people off, it is confusing.

    With all you plan - again, given what the picture looks like from his point of view, it is over-reaction. I wouldn't toss his room. But certainly, lock everything else up and keep your own stuff and your daughter's stuff safe.

    Can you lock your computer room? If not, then move it all into your room and keep it there, locked away, until you can set things up more safely. But you and your wife need to both go to the counselling sessions. If difficult child refuses to go, then lock him out of the house. He has the choice to come with you, or wait on the steps. Find out the legality of this, but make it clear - you require him to be with you, even if he spends his time in the waiting room or in the car. Hire a babysitter if you have to (although I do get the poor financial situation - maybe you can arrange a trade of time with someone who has a difficult child also).

    Find out what rights you have, to make him come with you. I'm thinking he may have refused, partly because it meant he was left home alone to do what he wanted.

    I'd also be locking away food, it does not belong in the bedrooms. He needs to eat with the family and in the right part of the house. But whatever you do, do it with your wife fully on board. If she doesn't agree with you she needs to feel free to say so. She needs to speak up and discuss it with you so you can both compromise. You may need to really work hard to compromise with her, if your hard line approach is too likely to drive her soft heart underground and undermine everything you are trying to do.

    I do feel for you. been there done that, only with us it wasn't credit cards, it was cash. A lot more than $100. Interestingly, he is now perhaps one of the most honest, law-abiding people in the world.

  5. toughlovin

    toughlovin Guest

    Another thought here....not in place of any of the suggestions made but more in addition to.... some of his behavior, locking himself in his room, barricading the door, getting supplies makes me sense that in all of this he may also feel shame. I am pretty sure that was on of my difficult child's issues at times when he did really hurtful stuff....

    Anyway obviously you can't trust him and need to take steps to protect yourself, your finances, your daughter and your stuff...... but you may also want to give him a way to make it up to you. So my suggestion, if he ever shows any remorse, is to come up with some kind of restitution he can do for you..... such as $100 worth of chores around the house.... something that would be helpful to you.

    It is just a thought.
  6. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    been there done that. As recently as this past Fall with difficult child 1. He stole my credit card out of my wallet and used it to pay for phone sex or whatever you want to call 1-800-Hoochie Girl, lol. I can laugh now, but I was equally devastated and enraged over the violation of trust, not to mention accessing the porn which he's been told time and again to stay away from.

    Before that, he's stolen cash from his dad, his sister, and possibly me as well.

    And I responded similarly. Total lockdown of all computer and phone privileges. Loss of treasured gameboy and Wii. Repayment of stolen funds. That was the punitive part.

    The corrective part started out with a therapist, but the real meat of it came from the psychiatrist and our reassessment of his medications. I have to say, since we changed medications and adjusted dosing, I have not caught him doing one illicit thing. He still has restrictions on his phone and the computer because in my opinion it hasn't been enough time for me to be convinced he's "cured." One day, when he needed my help to access a "blocked" (because of his restrictions) website, he complained about the fact that he had to go through this level of security -- and I reminded him of why. Then he said to me rather quietly, "Mom, I don't DO that stuff anymore."

    So, while you certainly MUST take steps to protect the rest of the family, and your feelings are more than justified, try not to lose sight of the fact that he still needs serious help and that it's possible one day he'll be able to be trusted again.

  7. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I know what its like to find out they are stealing...boy do I. I really wish I had taken a very hard nosed approach the very first time my son stole from me to be honest. I went too easy on him. I punished him at home. I lectured him. I took away things. I made him do extra chores. He spouted back verbatim why stealing was bad. Blah blah. Didnt stop him at all. He kept stealing. I cant tell you how many times he stole either money or my debit card. For the most part it was small sums. $20 or $40 bucks. I took him into the bank and had them read him the riot act about how I could press charges and it would be a felony. Didnt make an impression because he was still young.

    Then he hit me big. On his 21st birthday he stole 3 checks and forged them for 1500 bucks. I couldnt look the other way then. He forced my hand. I had to press charges on him. I had my son arrested as an adult for 3 felonies. Nice birthday present.

    I often think that if I had charged him the very first time he stole my card and got that first 20 bucks, while he may have had a felony juvy record, he would have thought twice about doing it again. It has certainly taught him something as an adult.
  8. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    I agree with-touchlovin. Also, that he's overwhelmed by all the emotions.

    When I finally stripped my difficult child's room (while he was at school; do not do this in front of him), he stood in the doorway and said, "Thanks for cleaning my room. It makes me feel more calm."

    My jaw dropped. Wish I'd known that b4!