Please Help, 25yo brother stealing from family

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Cheese, Jul 19, 2012.

  1. Cheese

    Cheese New Member

    I'm sorry if this is long winded, but I need to vent while possibly obtaining help. This is about my brother. I'm not a parent. But, I find that my parents are in more of a predicament than me.

    My brother during high school had some anxiety problems and couldn't finish normally. My mother went out of her way to make sure he got a diploma. I was left in the dark back then, so I don't know what all she did. But, my brother couldn't find work because of his anxiety and refused to talk to therapists or get help. My father quit his really well-paying job to buy a business and run it with my brother so my brother would have a job.

    Four years later, and I'm seeking some help for my anxiety. My brother sees how well I'm doing and decides to go to the doctor, who puts him on Paxil. He buys a new car and then decides to move out. He never had enough money to do this, but despite us telling him that, he still did it. He made some friends and spent all his money on them. He bought everything. Then, he decided to just stop showing up to work with my father, leaving my father in the dust. This went on for months. I had just lost my job, so I filled in for him. Eventually, my brother decided to stop working at my dad's business (in quite possibly the worst way anyone could quit a job). Now I'm working in his stead.

    While on his own, he kept making charges on the business credit card he still had. He said he used it by mistake, but continual charges showed that wasn't the case. To shorten the story up, we eventually took the card from him and the business keys from him. He claimed he was sorry and wouldn't do it again. Months later, he shows up to work (dad's business) when I'm the only one there and says he needs to print a check to himself because that's what my parents told him to do. He had been having some financial troubles, and I knew my parents were helping him financially at the time, so I didn't question it. Come to find out, he not only wasn't told to do that, but he took numerous checks, forged my dad's signature and cashed it in to himself. He has also stolen from me. Gone into my room and taken cash.

    We've talked to him time and again stating that if he needs help, ASK don't steal, but he keeps doing it. We eventually found out that he is also addicted to poppy seeds and was about to go through withdrawal of it, so my mom let him stay at home in the basement while he dealt with it. While we were in the back yard, my brother went to my mom's purse and stole her credit card and has charged it since he's left.

    He lies constantly. His new car has been repossessed twice. My parents have put thousands of dollars into that car in addition to having to pay off the thousands of charges my brother has made. We've been trying to set up a date and time with him to go get the car as that's the cheapest option. Letting it go is still more expensive. He says he'll go, but he lies and never shows up. He wastes our time constantly. He never talks to us. The few times we get ahold of him is through texts. He texts weird things about how he's sorry, feels bad but doesn't want to lose the friends he's made. In addition to that, his new "friends" have helped him become addicted to cigarettes too.

    It just never ends. On top of even that, my dad's dad is dying of congestive heart failure. My dad's mom is stressed out about her husband dying and how she's going to have to take care of herself, so my dad has to go over to their house constantly to pay bills, help move stuff around. For god's sake, his father is dying and his own son couldn't care less! How sick is that?! To see my dad so stressed out is sickening. To see my mother constantly cry hurts. They don't deserve this. They're excellent parents.

    Anyway, I texted my brother that if he ever stole from me again, I'd call the cops. I have no problem having him sit in jail. My parents, on the other hand, do. They're afraid of what's going to happen to him if they don't help him. No matter what, they're worried about him, constantly. They don't want to lose touch with him, so calling the cops will just send him in a rage. But shoveling him money isn't helping, and they realize that too. They just don't want him living on the street and possibly getting into worse things. They just don't know what to do, and I don't know what to tell them. They've scheduled doctors appointments and talked to my brother about going. He says he'll go, but like always, it's a lie, and he never shows up.

    I just don't know what options my parents have. What can they do? Their minds are just wrecked by this, constantly. I try my best to keep things upbeat, crack a joke here and there, do extra things around the house to help make life a little easier on them, but at the end of the day, they love their son and don't want to lose him. Any advice will be greatly appreciated. I again apologize for the length. It definitely could be much longer, unfortunately.
  2. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    Did you post about this before?
  3. Cheese

    Cheese New Member

    No, I've never been here before.
  4. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    I'm sure you'll get some good advice from folks who have gone through this with their siblings.
  5. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Well, as hard a parenting move as it is, letting him hit bottom and hit hard is the best parenting move right now. Enabling him by saving him every time is not going to change anything. Yes, call the cops if he breaks the law, ie: stealing. He is breaking the law...making his own family the victims. You just know now that you read it in those terms.....he needs to be arrested. Someone needs to force punishment on him. Sounds like it might be the only way for him to learn.
  6. DazedandConfused

    DazedandConfused Active Member

    I'm sorry for your predicament, Cheese.

    I've not had to go through something like this as a parent; however, like you, I was a sister to something similar and also a granddaughter.

    In the case of my brother, my parents were divorced, my father allowed my brother to drop out of high school because he wouldn't go (so I can appreciate what your Mom did for your brother). He was living with him at the time. Over and over my father rescued him from his bad choices (drugs and stealing). My mom at first tried to help, but when she saw that her efforts did not help him to improve to make better choices, she stopped. Finally, my brother ended up living on the street, because even my father saw what he was doing wasn't improving his situation. It was horrible for my mother and I witnessed the desperation and the pain she went through during that time. My brother was married with two young children.He was an ADULT and he was in charge of his life. I tried to stay a neutral as I could, but I agreed with her. Ultimately, he asked for help, and my sister offered him a lifeline. However, it was on her terms (drug treatment, responsibility for actions, job, and taking care of and supporting his children). It took some time to get his life back together, but he did.

    I also witnessed my grandparents rescue my uncle. Of course, this did cause resentment among the other siblings, but they were deaf, especially my grandmother, to it. My uncle was a sickly baby and my grandmother I think always saw him as someone who needed being taken care of and did my uncle ever take advantage of this! I can't name how many cars they bought; how many houses they rented and even bought, how many bills they paid for him. He even worked under my grandfather who ultimately HAD to fire him when he either wouldn't show up to work or showed up drunk. When I look back now, I see how he had very severe depression (his beloved fiance died of cancer) and my grandparents were old school from the Dust Bowl years; having any kind of "mental condition" was a humiliation for the family. He even moved in with my family for a while and it was HORRIBLE! He was arrogant, refused to clean up after himself and even bathe, and would make nasty little swipes at me. I was a teenager and I despised him. I found out later, as an adult, that my grandmother was paying my Dad to: 1. Give him a job in his business 2. Take him off her hands because he was stealing from her. Finally, after about three or four months, it all came to head and the police got called. He went then got violent with the police and ended up in the county psychiatric hospital. I have to admit, I have relieved he was gone.

    So, for the rest of what remained of his life, he lived off and on with my grandmother. She couldn't stand to live with him, but couldn't stand the thought of him not having a place to live. She came from the perspective that family doesn't allow their kin to live on the street. What she couldn't see was how all the money she and my grandfather spent over the years did NOTHING to improve his life. He never was able to hold a job (He didn't have to!) and only fell deeper into a alcohol and drug abyss. The man LITERALLY died face down in the gutter in his 40s. He drank himself to death. He would have never been able to do that if my grandparents hadn't given him the financial backing.

    As far your parents, I would surmise that more than what might happen to your brother if they were to start treating him like the adult that he is, and him having to face the consequences of his actions, they are afraid of the painful guilt they will feel when he does fall. He needs to fall and feel how cold and hard that ground is. How to convince them of this? I don't have much to offer other than to gently point out that all they have invested in him isn't paying any dividends. They will continue to suffer for his actions and he doesn't have to feel a thing. He's not a child anymore and can be very difficult for some parents to see. Hopefully, your parents will one day come to see this sooner better than later and before they are bled dry financially.
  7. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I'm sorry for the pain you're in. Perhaps you and your parents would benefit from attending a 12 step group for families of substance abusers. You can also research groups specifically for the families which may be lead by a therapist or another professional. Private therapy is an option too. If you believe your brother suffers from mental illness, the national organization NAMI, the National alliance for mental illness, is a great resource for families. They provide services to support the family and help with getting the family member with mental illness through the system.

    The bottom line is you cannot change his behavior, what you all can do is change your reactions and responses and begin the process of letting him go, detaching from him so that his life cannot impact all of you. Being proactive and hiding your money and valuables seems to be what many choose to do in the process. Stealing is not okay and should not be tolerated. It is heartbreaking and it is not easy, however, as most of us here on this board can attest, in the final analysis, what is required is to find a way detach from him and learn to live your own lives. That path is fraught with pitfalls, sorrow, guilt, angers and resentments, however, it usually is the only way out of the dilemma you are facing. Again, I'm sorry you find yourself in this place, you're not alone, you've found a wonderful place to vent and get advice and express your frustrations. I'm sure there will be others along who will provide you with more support. I send you warm wishes as you find your way through this.
  8. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Honestly it does not sound to me like your parents are asking "What can they do?" As much as you want to solve the problem and come up with a viable solution you really are not in the position to change the dynamics between your parents and your brother. My impression may be wrong but it sounds as though you have given up your lifestyle in hopes that you can save your parents from their choices.

    in my humble opinion you can either "detach" from your brother and make it clear to all that you will not allow him to ruin your life or you can continue to sacrafice your life. You have told your brother that you will contact law enforcement if he steals from you again. Are you steadfast in that decision? Have you shared with your parents that you will not deviate from that statement?

    Many of us totally relate and know what you are saying because we have been there done that. It is very very hard to draw a line....the thing that is most difficult to accept is that YOU are the one who has to resolve the issue and be prepared to take action. Hugs. Many of us have "thought" we were ready. Those of us who have actually detached have found some peace down the line. Best of luck. DDD
  9. Cheese

    Cheese New Member

    Thank you for all your kind words and helpful advice. My post is a little delayed as more drama has unfolded. My brother is now living with my parents and I in the basement because he is just flat out broke. He didn't choose to live here. He just didn't have any other option. No food, no money, no car. He even texted my mother asking her to buy poppy seeds for him. You know he's desperate if he's asking his own mother to fuel his addiction.

    Before this all escalated, I would have been fine with him moving back home, but now I'm totally scared. I've been booby trapping my stuff to see if he's been in it, looking for ways to lock all my items up. We've hidden all our keys. I don't even feel comfortable with him outside alone with my dogs. I was hoping for him to stay a few days and then go get treatment, but he's being his stubborn, cold self. He would not go back to his apartment and help my mother clean it up. He's not taken any actions to help himself or us. He took a whole bottle of wine from our fridge and drank it all last night. Whenever he sees me, he acts like nothing is wrong.

    I recently bought a car too, so me moving out isn't going to work either. Although, I've most certainly been looking and analyzing my finances to see if I could make it work. I just can't live like this anymore.

    I have talked to my parents and told them that I'm just done. If they need help or someone to talk to, I'm there for them, but I've offered all I could for my brother, and he's done nothing. Nothing for himself and nothing for me. I have nothing left to give, so I'm done with him. Until he starts acting like the adult he claims to be, I will have nothing to do with him. His words mean nothing. I need to see him actually doing something good for me to change my stance. I told them my stance on calling the cops if he steals from me again. I AM FIRM on that. He's stolen THOUSANDS of dollars from my parents, and they never reported him. He only stole a handful of cash from me. And despite several talks telling him that if he needs help money wise to just ask, he still steals. It's clear that there's nothing we can do to teach him that stealing is not okay. He needs a firm smack of reality to stop him at this point.

    I don't want to see him in jail or on the streets, but I can't keep living a life full of tears for something that's not my fault. I told my dad the same. I told him that he and my mother need to at least tell my brother that if he is not taking any proactive steps towards getting help, whatever he chooses, then he can not live at home. I doubt he'd believe it as my parents are so loving and nice, but crying every day is not healthy, and my parents are at the end of their ropes too. They have to keep taking time off from work to help him, but helping him involves money, money that they can only get from work. They just can't win. My mother just went over to her brother's house to talk to him and his wife about all that's going on. She just can't handle it on her own and despite trying to keep the drama on the inside, she decided she needed some help, which I'm glad she did. Even if her brother can't help much, at least she's got someone to talk to other than me. I keep telling my parents that they might benefit from talking to a therapist of sorts, if only to perhaps get some extra thoughts on how to deal with the situation, but it all comes back to time and money. They've taken so much time off from work it's hard to take any more time off and therapists cost money in addition to the money they might spend on my brother if he actually does get some sort of treatment.

    My mother has a doctor's appointment scheduled for tomorrow for my brother, and she is supposed to drive him there. Every single time something like this is scheduled, he always backs out at the last second, so we have no idea what to expect tomorrow....well, probably more drama. My dad keeps saying there's something not right with my brother mentally. He says whenever he talks to him, he's just cold, never reacts to my mother crying in front of him. That stuff just scares me. We just need a direction to go, and hopefully come Monday, we'll have one.

    Again, thank you all for replying and reading this post. These things are so depressing.:sigh:
  10. Calamity Jane

    Calamity Jane Well-Known Member

    I'm sure you realize that as long as you're living there, your life will not be your own. Your brother's problems absorb you and your parents, and while they're confused and lost too, they don't really see a way out. I recognize that you can't move because of financial reasons, but I suggest you look up a local chapter of NAMI and go to some meetings. They are a tremendous resource for services, therapy, consolation, etc. which will help you, and perhaps help your parents and brother in the future if they seek it. You cannot solve their problems, and you can't live a healthy life under their roof.