Help: my 23 year old daughter is stealing

Discussion in 'Substance Abuse' started by ButterflyGirl, Sep 9, 2017.

  1. ButterflyGirl

    ButterflyGirl New Member

    Me and hubby are having a tough time with our daughter who lives at home with us. She just turned 23 but sometimes I think she has the mind of a career criminal - she has been stealing money from us to the tune of around $15000 over last 5 years to fund an alcohol addiction. She has no income and no impulse control, so if she wants something, she does whatever she can to get it. She covers her tracks by siphoning off money from our bank account by using our credit card (without us knowing) and disguising it as grocery shopping, then returns expensive items at a later date in exchange for store credit, which she uses to buy clothes and electronics then takes them home to sell on eBay, and uses the money to buy cigarettes and liquor. She also set up fake online businesses with PayPal accounts and then used our credit card to make "purchases" through them, that show up on our bank reports as harmless shopping like $13.55 SAFESHOPPER FOOD. I think this has been going back over 5 years, but without going through thousands of receipts and credit card reports it's impossible to tell. She has never been in trouble with the cops (maybe she's stolen from other people too and just hides the evidence, I dont know, we keep discovering more each week. We don't want to kick her out and the last thing we want is for her to get a felony record, but we're stuck for options.

    Alcohol has always ruined every opportunity she's had - every time she has an interview, or gets close to any kind of success in her life, she decides to get drunk on her own with massive amounts of alcohol. On some nights she will drink an entire bottle of vodka and pass out on the stairs, and her father has to carry her to bed and stay with her to make sure she doesn't hurl in her sleep and choke. We've gone round to the liquor stores nearby with a photo and asked them not to sell to her, but she somehow keeps getting alcohol. She must have been using a fake ID for most of it when she was underage or getting someone else to buy it for her. I almost wish she'd tried to steal from the store and got arrested for shoplifting for a reality check, rather than commit what is really hundreds of counts of fraud and money laundering against us which could put her in prison for the rest of her life.

    She refuses to talk to anyone and if we approach her about it, she locks herself in her room and drinks until we can't ever understand her words through the door. We've searched her room for alcohol when she's been out but never found anything so she must be hiding it in the floor or ceiling somewhere. Every time we open a drawer or look in the yard we find empty liquor bottles. The drinking started at 15 and it's gotten more out of control ever since.

    I don't know what to do to still give her a chance for a full life, it can't carry on like this.
  2. pasajes4

    pasajes4 Well-Known Member

    Welcome to our little corner of paradise. This is a horrible situation for everyone living in your house.


    How is she able to access your credit cards?

    Does she drive?

    Do you give her money?

    Do you have younger children in the house?

    Do you want to be living like this when you are in your 80's?

    Does she have mental health issues?

    When you are ready, it helps to have more information about your daughters situation. In the meanwhile you may want to read the article on detachment in the Parent Emeritus forum. You may also benefit from reading articles on codependency.
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  3. Littleboylost

    Littleboylost On the road unwanted to travel

    My heart goes out to you and I echo Passas questions for you.
    Please what ever you do protect yourself from her ability to use and steal CCs and money from you.
    Get help alanon is excellent to you can reach out on line or in person at a meeting. If that does not suit you please get some support and therapy for yourself. This is not an easy situation do deal with.
  4. ButterflyGirl

    ButterflyGirl New Member

    I used to give my cards to her to do family shopping before I had any notion of what was going on. I started to suspect something and asked her to get receipts of each shop, and everything came back normal. I later found out she was doing two shops - running alcohol through separately and throwing away only some of the receipts. I started giving her cash instead so I could expect all the correct change, but it seems she's snuck into my room and stolen my card from my purse, used it, then placed it back before I noticed. She started stealing cash as well so I had to start hiding it - I bought a jewellery safe and put my purse in there, but recently I found a video on the computer where she had placed a camera hidden behind some clothes and filmed me putting the code in so she's had access to it this whole time. I just feel like an idiot and I have nowhere to hide.

    We don't let her drive our car anymore (she crashed it into our house while trying to drive after drinking and it cost $4000 to repair - my husband claimed responsibility to protect her from a DUI), but she'll sneak out at night, take the keys and buy alcohol from somewhere after 1am. Sometimes I wonder if she has a car we don't know about that she leaves parked up somewhere.

    We don't give her any money. I keep telling her if she wants money she needs to get a job - even a part time one for a few hours each week - just like the rest of us. I'm convinced that if she got a job, the stealing would stop. But at the same time, I don't want her getting a job just to blow all the money on liquor.

    She's our only child.

    Of course I don't want to be living like this in my 80s, but I could never forgive myself if I turned 80 and she was in prison. I feel like I've failed as a parent. We did everything right, we poured so much into her. If she'd spent half the effort she puts into drinking and stealing into something productive, she could have been working for the FBI or SEC by now. She's such a bright girl but she's wasting her life and its killing me.
  5. ksm

    ksm Well-Known Member

    Please...change all your accounts and get new cards and passwords. Lock up your wallet/purse.

    See what is required if you need to have her evicted from your home. I am not saying you need to do that right now. But it helps to know what is required. If money disappears...contract the police.

    Al-Anon. Hopefully you can find a group in your community. P,us, maybe find a therapist for you and your husband to be on the same page.

    Good luck! This is hard...

  6. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I am sorry. I have a daughter who abused meth snd cocaine so we made her leave at 19. I called the cops at 15 on her for using pot in my didnt destroy her life when we called the cops and she knew we were serious about no illegal stuff under our roof. We would have called the cops on her if she had stolen from us. We felt she NEEDED to feel consequences in order to be motivated to change her life.

    She survived and quit.ilEven quit the cigarettes!! I think that if they are inclined to quit at all they are much more likely to see that their lifestyle/addiction is a problem if we stop feeling sorry for them and pull the safety net. Is it hard? My beautiful girl was an adult baby. I cried. Her last words before leaving were "I will hate you forever!"

    She doesnt hate me. We are close. She is stable with a two year college certificate that she paid for, her own house that we dont help her pay for, and my granddaughter and a long term boyfriend. I think sometimes we see them as still cute little kids. For their sakes and ours this is harmful. Even dangerous. I feel we need to see them as adults and let them go to help them learn and thrive.

    Alcohol is not the problem. Your daughters choice to not stop using it is the problem. There are countless sober alcoholics. Her level of stealing from you is inexcusable. What kind of daughter does this to loving parents? She is way over the edge and right now has little in the way of a conscience. She has no shame. And she knows you wont act against her.

    Give her NO access to any of your money. And in my opinion change the locks and lock the door from her unless you are home. She lost the right to be alone in your house. It is your house/your sanctuary, not hers.

    In my experience they dont do the hard work of quitting until we stop rescuing them. Your daughter has no motivation to better her life right now. She knows you wont let make her suffer in any way. Addiction is ugly and strange. Often we have to let them suffer (heart wrenching) for them to stop the addiction. Mothering and nurturance doesnt help the addict change her life. It mskes it easier for her to indulge.

    Never give her access to a car. She drinks and certainly would drink and drive. She could easily kill herself or somebody elses child while on the road. Too bad if she insists she needs a car. Thats the last thing she and society needs. Dont help her be able to drive. This is then also on your head if anyone dies. Please think it over.

    While you are on this journey, I strongly recommend Al Anon or private therapy or both for you so you learn better ways of handling this. Its not easy. Daughter is a problem. And you cant save her. Only she can save herself.

    Good luck. Hugs!!
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    Last edited: Sep 9, 2017
  7. ButterflyGirl

    ButterflyGirl New Member

    Thank you for your support - see above, I have already tried locking things away in a strongbox and she still managed to get in. The hard thing is often she uses cards and puts them back afterwards without me noticing, it can be weeks until I find something out of place, by which time it's too late.

    She has already crashed the car into our home while drunk, we don't let her drive now but sometimes we can't stop her as she'll take the keys anyway during the night.

    I'm worried if I turn her in, they'll start investigating her and I've no idea what they'll find. What if they uncover say 50 separate counts of credit card fraud, DUI, shoplifting, identity fraud, also the fake businesses and financial accounts, does some of it amount to money laundering too?

    It'll all start adding up and if a judge throws the book at her at she'll never see the outside of a prison cell.
  8. DoneDad

    DoneDad Active Member

    She has no motivation to change now. Free place to live, money, booze, no rules - why would she change a thing? If you change the game, she might change, she might not. That's up to her. But your life will be a whole lot better if you don't have a live-in burglar/con artist in your house.

    You have to decide what you can live with. Your husband taking the blame for her drunk driving collision shows you're both probably in need of intensive therapy to break the cycle of enabling and codependency.

    Believe me I know it's not easy, but you deserve to have the peaceful, stable life you've worked for.
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  9. Littleboylost

    Littleboylost On the road unwanted to travel

    When you start getting help you will begin to understand enabling bs loving and FOG Fear Obligation and Guilt. This is not an easy path for any of us. I know I am in the throws of it with my soon to be 18 year old.
  10. ButterflyGirl

    ButterflyGirl New Member

    I've no idea where to go from here. It's not even lunchtime and she's already drunk. The house smells like a bar. I'm looking at rehab options but I can't see her staying anywhere more than a day. I think her social life has a huge impact on her decision to keep drinking, but I don't know how to go about fixing that. I feel like I've let her down.
  11. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    You have let her down how??? You have let her live for free in your house, fed and clothed her even though she is sn adult criminal and you never called thr police on her. You have given her more chances than many, putting her way above yourselves. How have you let her down? If anything, you are letting yourselves down for her. Yet she does not care about you or anyone else.

    Dont blame alcohol or her friends. She picks friends based on her values and interests. What nice young adult would hang around with a 23 year old woman who doesnt work, lives with her parents and is a con artist and master thief?

    The law of attraction says you attract people like yourself. This is all about your daughter, not you.

    If your daughter is going to steal from strangers, and she will, she could end up in prison anyway. She needs to feel consequences or she may not stop. She may not stop anyway...but you have to try, right?

    From the sound of it, your daughter would be safer in jail than getting drunk every day and stealing. And you would have some peace, which you deserve.
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  12. pasajes4

    pasajes4 Well-Known Member

    Butterfly, You can't fix her. It is not her friends fault. She seeks out people like she is. She is running your life and unless you put a stop to it..... this will be your life.

    If you do not want her to face the consequences of her actions, nothing is going to change. She has you both right where she wnts you.
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  13. ButterflyGirl

    ButterflyGirl New Member

    If it were just one case of taking a card, or one DUI, I perhaps would consider calling the cops. But she's so far down this rabbit hole of horror, I feel like attracting attention to her with the police is nothing short of a death sentence - I'm sure there's more she's hidden that we haven't found yet. I need to find the balance of consequences and the chance for a life afterwards, and I'm scared if she goes to jail where hard drugs are easily available, she'll end up killing herself.

    She doesn't have any friends - not since elementary school. She was bullied pretty hard in middle school and just kept to herself since then. I just feel empty not being able to see her succeed in life.
  14. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I am so sorry. Do you have other kids? Close relatives? A support system?

    Your daughter is making her life a mess...eventually she will go to jail if she keeps living this way. Breaking the law. I dont think drugs are more available in jail than on the streets.

    I knew a young man, 26, a teacher...he died at home of a sudden liver ailment caused by his alcoholism. His father, who he lived with, was beyond devestated. This happened without warning. At home.

    There is nothing we can do, as hard as this is to take in. We can not even keep them alive. We have no control over another person's life choices, even a beloved child. Nor can we keep them healthy, happy, successful or even alive.

    If you have a higher power, it is often helpful for us to let go and give it to a force greater than us.

    I put my trust in the Universe. Much more powerful than I am.
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2017
  15. pasajes4

    pasajes4 Well-Known Member

    How much of a chance at a good life does she have right now with the way she is doing things? Do you believe she will wakeup one morning and say, " Oh mommy/daddy I get it now and I am ready to change." when she has no reason to do so?

    I am sure you realize she is slowly killing herself and any chance of a decent life with the amount of drinking she is doing. What is she going to do when you are no longer around to support her.

    If you are comfortable doing what you are doing keep doing it. If nothing changes nothing changes.

    Please seek help for yourselves. Perhaps a professional would have the answers you are looking for. We are not professionals. We are parents who have been in the trenches for a collective huge whapoo of time. We are by no means perfect in our approach to our kids' issues.

    We care about you and your quality of life. We want you to live a long happy life and not in bondage to a person who cares so little for you other than as her personal atm machine.
  16. ButterflyGirl

    ButterflyGirl New Member

    She's our only child. No we don't know anyone out here - we moved to Indiana 7 years ago, I don't have any siblings and my parents have both passed, hubby has a brother but he's way up in southeast Alaska. I sort of screwed up any chances of building a good relationship with any friends or neighbors here by mentioning the "A Word" after someone invited me to a community bible study (how could I have been so stupid?!) which definitely didn't help our daughter at school. We've been managing (if you can call it that) on our own so far but I don't know where it goes from here.
  17. ksm

    ksm Well-Known Member

    Register your cards on line, so you don't have to wait for a statement. 2 or 3 times a week, log on and check. Get an extra check book register and write down your transactions and check it against the online.

    If she is getting your keys and your credit cards, then hey are not secured.

    Ok, what if you turn her in and the police find other infractions?? Then that is her problem, not yours. She needs to make restitution to who ever she stole from.

    I really think you need to talk to a therapist and find out why you accepting criminal behavior from an adult child in your own home.

    If you are adamant about not calling the police right now, how about using it as leverage that she must seek help (and not on your dime!) or you do report the misuse of credit cards. Or that she had to move if she doesn't follow thru with treatment?

    I still think talking to a therapist is your first priority.

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    Last edited: Sep 9, 2017
  18. pasajes4

    pasajes4 Well-Known Member

    What is the "A" word? Don't let your embareassment of your daughters negative lifestyle keep you isolated. There are other bible studies and other people to connect with. Find an in person support group. Try AlANON. I think you would benefit greatly from it.
  19. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Athiest I think.

    There are many atheists and they have friends. It is probably preoccupation with the daughter that is more of a problem with making friends. Not uncommon, but your life matters too. You need therapy to help you move on. It is ulikely daughter will do much but add grief to your life in the near future. You need to think about a strong, loving marriage and having fun can be happy in spite of daughter. She is seperate frim you as a person. Dont let her reality be yours.
  20. pasajes4

    pasajes4 Well-Known Member

    SWOT, I totally didn't pick up on that. Probably because she was talking about a Bible Study group. I was thinking because her daughter is an alcoholic.