We just found out my (maybe) recovering addicted stepchild has been stealing from us

Discussion in 'Substance Abuse' started by feelingfrustrated, Feb 10, 2015.

  1. feelingfrustrated

    feelingfrustrated New Member

    Please forgive me if I am long-winded about my current situation, but I am new to this forum and am seeking support, guidelines, ideas from all of you about how to handle what has now become an untenable situation. We have discovered that my husband's daughter (who returned home to live with us approximately 1 year ago) has been stealing from us. By way of background, she came back to us in order for us to help her to recover from drug addition and to give her a place to stay during her recovery. While there have been several instances in the past year when we have looked for an item we seldom use (spotting scope, an individual TENS-type unit, etc.), we could not locate the item. Did we misplace it? Maybe borrowed it to someone that didn't return it, but don't recall? You know, things you ask yourself when you can't find something. My stepdaughter would also take things without asking to use for herself, such as taking the flat screen I had in my workout area for working out to exercise videos, along with the DVD/VHS player, up to her room (which she did three times even after being told the first time that it wasn't acceptable) and telling her dad that the fan I was using in that area was hers, not mine, and that the fan she had in her room was actually mine (not true).

    Within the past week my husband found that our commemorative quarter collections (we had four - one set for each daughter) is missing. The case is there, but the quarters are gone. He confronted his daughter who, of course, denied taking the quarters and casting suspicion on his younger daughter (who also resides with us) and my youngest daughter (who has not resided with us for over 10 years).

    She then proceeded to tell her father that she was going to pack her stuff and that she had places where she could live with friends. She went into the basement and began to supposedly pack up her belongings that we had been storing down there. When I got home, my husband told me she had been working in the basement all afternoon. I even complimented her on how nice it looked. She was subdued when I got home, and later left with friends.

    This weekend, when I was working in the basement, I noticed that one of the totes she had taped up and indicated contained her "misc. stuff" was actually a tote that belonged to me. Upon opening it, I discovered it contained property belonging to us. Blankets, luggage, winter clothing, etc. That prompted me to open up the boxes she had taped up, which contained my spare set of dishes, glasses, silverware, tupperware and even items from our pantry including homemade canned goods, etc. Keep in mind, all of these items were packed up in our basement while my husband was upstairs, in the house, performing miscellaneous chores and after he had already confronted her about stealing.

    I know, and my husband knows, that we can no longer tolerate her residing in our home. We have changed the locks on our doors. However, she has not been home since before we discovered all this and we are trying to come up with a way to firmly tell her that she is no longer allowed to live in our house and that she is not welcome there unless we are home. Any suggestions?
  2. 2much2recover

    2much2recover Well-Known Member

    Just do it. SERIOUSLY. Pack her stuff up and agree to meet her somewhere to give her the stuff that does belong to her. She obviously can't be trusted back in your home. Keep posting here because lots of people will support you as you go through this difficult process. Once an adult child starts stealing from you there are no other options left but to remove them from the home.
    Likely she is using again so anything you could do for her would just enable her to destroy her own life AND steal from you. As a parent you have done all that you can do!
  3. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    "Because you have been stealing from us, and don't bother denying it, you are no longer allowed to live in our house again. We love you, but you are a woman now and you have to make your own way in life. I wish you luck. We are changing the locks. We both wish you luck."

    She can steal even if you are home. You can see her other places than at your home. Meet her for coffee.

    You just say it. If she gets violent, call the cops. If she just leaves, let her leave. She knows what she is doing and did and is lying to you and is probably back to using drugs. Hate to say that, but that's probably why she is stealing and lying.

    I believe "less is more." Don't talk too much. Say what you need to say and not a word more. Arguing is not an option. Your home is your sanctuary and you need to have a place to feel safe in. She needs to live her own life and take her own life's story, making it good or not so good, but her own.

    Hugs for your hurting heart. Stand firm!
  4. toughlovin

    toughlovin Well-Known Member

    I agree with everything MWM says. I think what often gets us confused when they steal is that we don't have "proof" and we so badly want to believe them. But you know in your heart of hears that she has been stealing from you and the boxed items show that. She may go on the attack and accuse you of going through her stuff etc etc. Ignore all of it. if she denies it, blames someone else, or somehow turns the tables on you, just stay calm and say it is apparent to us that things have been missing since you have been here and that we cant trust you. We cant have someone we dont trust living here.

    I cant tell you how much better it feels not having to hide all valuables and not to think you are kind of nuts because so many things are not where you left them.

    Yes she needs to leave... so stay strong, be firm and stay calm.
  5. Kathy813

    Kathy813 Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I hate to say this but it may be harder than you think to make her leave. Laws vary by state but many of us have found that you have to go through the eviction process to make your step-daughter leave even if she isn't paying any rent.

    We went through that when we finally made our daughter leave our home when she refused to go for treatment. We ended up having to go to court and get a temporary protection order which sent deputies to our house to make her leave immediately. You have to have a good reason, though. In our case, the judge granted it because our daughter was bringing heroin into our home.

    Our daughter stole from us many times. We even got to the point of getting a safe and putting a deadbolt on our bedroom door. Looking back, I can't believe we let ourselves get to that point. There is no reason to let an adult live in your home who is stealing from you.

  6. toughlovin

    toughlovin Well-Known Member

    So yes check the laws in your state...all we had to do was to get a no tresspass order on my son which we did by going to the police.
  7. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    While there have been several instances in the past year when we have looked for an item we seldom use (spotting scope, an individual TENS-type unit, etc.), we could not locate the item. Did we misplace it? Maybe borrowed it to someone that didn't return it, but don't recall?

    Yes!!! I began missing things more and more, thinkoing I misplaced them and finally realizing my daughter was taking them, yet I could never catch her doing it.

    Within the past week my husband found that our commemorative quarter collections (we had four - one set for each daughter) is missing. The case is there, but the quarters are gone.

    My daughter also took a commemorative quarter collection that my dad had given to me. She also took a box of spare change in my husband's dresser and replaced it with an empty box. Mt dad's WWll medals are missing, never did find them.

    How old is she? I would wait for her to contact you or try to come home. Put all of her things (minus the stuff not hers that she took of yours) in the garage and invite her to take them from there.
  8. stressedmama

    stressedmama Active Member

    Ironically, my step-daughter didn't take much of our stuff, but she did steal money and items from the 2 other children still living at home. She did pawn things we had given her (laptop, ipad, game system, etc) She was more into conning actual cash out of people...my husband, her mom, her mom's ex, her in-laws, and the poor souls at the ATM that she would spend days hanging around to scam them out of their cash.

    My husband couldn't/wouldn't see it. When money was stolen from the other children, he blamed them for losing it or stealing from each other rather than believing his "precious" could have done it. That got very frustrating. And at the same, he had to be suspicious because he would hide valuables and medications and lock them up so she couldn't get access to them. He now sees it but he is not past being an enabler yet. Better than he was, but he still doesn't totally get it. He and his daughter had a very co-dependent relationship for a loooong time. She's almost 33 years old and we've only been together 8 years. That's a lot of time to unravel something so entwined. It finally came down to me telling him he had to choose who was leaving/who was staying because I would not live with her any longer.

    I absolutely agree she needs to go. And if she's already gone, no coming back. If she's in your house for a visit, she must stay in the same room as you at all times.

    I'm sorry for your hurting heart...and your frustration...and your stress...and your...and your...and your...You get what I mean. We've all been in the same place (and still are).

  9. feelingfrustrated

    feelingfrustrated New Member

    Thank you all for responding. Nancy, this young woman is 21 years old, and until just this past year, has refused to live with us since she was 17. I suspected she was using drugs before she moved out before, and also suspect that back then she stole my grandmother's diamond ring (valued back in 1997 at $3,800) which was bequeathed to me. I was resistant to her moving back in with us, but felt I had no choice as my husband truly wanted to help her recover from her drug addiction and help her get back on her feet. As a parent myself, I didn't feel that I could deny him that opportunity, and at first, things were okay. She was getting help, going to meetings, looking for employment. But gradually, over time, I believe she has slipped back into her old habits as she disappears from our home for days on end, not telling us where she is going or where she's been, or when she expects to return. She has not kept a job longer than 2 weeks (coincidentally? just long enough to get her first paycheck?) and just recently lost another.

    I am glad my husband is finally seeing the light that she can no longer live with us, but my heart hurts for his pain.

    I am looking into whether or not we need to go through the eviction process and, as I read the Wisconsin Landlord/Tenant law, I believe that as she did not have a lease and was not paying rent, that she is not considered a "tenant", but rather a "tenant at will". I am checking with a lawyer in my area, though, to confirm the information I have obtained through my own reading of the statutes.
  10. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I understand your hurting heart, Mine hurt so badly even though we had to tell our daughter she was no longer welcome either. The day she texted me and begged to come home I thought my heart would break into a thousand pieces and never be put back together. I had to say no and the pain was unbearable. We have always told her as long as she was getting help we would support that but at the time she was not.

    In Ohio we did not have to evict our daughter either. She was an adult and the police told her she was a guest in our home and was no longer welcome...period.

    All is not lost, if your step daughter gets help she may once again be welcome in your home, but I agree that her actions make reasonable to suspect she has relapsed. I am all too familar with relapse and those signs are there. I hope she does get help and gets back on track. I have a very good relationship with my daughter today, she has done a lot of maturing in the past few years.
  11. Lil

    Lil Well-Known Member

    I'm so sorry you are going thru this. Many of us have had to make our children leave our homes and many of us have done so because of stealing. It hurts. Not just the leaving or them begging to come home, but just the betrayal of them stealing in the first place. You are doing the only thing you can do, making her move out. You can't let a someone victimize you in your own home. Stay strong.
  12. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time

    I clearly remember the day I opened my son's car trunk and saw all kinds of things from my garage in there, plus items from my jewelry box.

    It was awful.

    More pain on top of pain.

    My ex-husband kept enabling my son until the day he came home from work---my son was living with him at the time and had gotten arrested that day for something else---and saw his sports cards collection spread all over the upstairs and my son's laptop open to a site that provided pricing on the cards.

    That was an important day for my ex-husband. He came face to face with the physical evidence of it, just like I did.

    He didn't speak to my son for a year (which, by the way, I thought was the wrong response, but whatever...)

    Anyway, you can't allow someone to live with you who is stealing from you. That is a black and white deal breaker.

    The day I discovered it in my home---yes, I was giving him yet another chance just like you were doing---my SO and I went to Home Depot and bought new key locks and door slide locks---me crying the entire time. It was awful. It was surreal, that my own child would steal from me.

    Then---even after I told him no more---guess what he did? He found the one keypad we hadn't changed on our double garage doors and got in that way.

    Drug addicts have no pride and will do whatever they can do to get what they need to sell for more drugs. It isn't personal.

    And they will lie to your face as you literally catch them with the stuff in their pockets. Oh, they were just looking at it, and forgot to put it back. yada, yada, yada.

    I have heard every excuse in the book over the past five years.

    It doesn't mean it isn't painful when you are going through it all. I so remember the pain and it is immense.

    I hope and pray her dad---your husband---had enough of the physical evidence in his face to stand firm. It's hard to do, early on. It gets easier as it happens over and over again.

    I also believe adult children, especially difficult children, should only live with us for very short periods of time, whether in recovery or not. It just isn't a good thing to have our own adult children in our homes for extended periods of time, whether they are healthy or not.

    Hang in there. Stand firm. Just tell her she has to find another place to live, today. No discussion.

    Maybe she will hit a bottom and start her recovery all over again. I hope so.