What Do You Do When Your Friend’s Kid Steals From You?

The past several days I’ve been wrestling with a situation. One of my older son’s friends has taken my younger son’s toy. It’s not the first time. What do you do about a situation like this?

During a sleepover with the friend, my younger son nestled his three Bakugan on their magnetic cards on his desk when he went to sleep. My husband saw them there at bedtime. This was his toy of the moment. He carried the little balls everywhere. Since they’re magnetic they were even attached to his silverware at dinner. He had to earn 10 extra homework points to get them and this took 21 days. The number of days is etched on my mind because earning the toys was as stressful for me as it was for my son. This toy meant a lot to all of us.

The friend was sleeping over on a school night. Just as the older boys were about to go to middle school, the little one woke up and said his Bakugan were missing. He was trying to get the boy to show him where they were, but it was time for them to go to school. As the vehicle pulled away, my son started to wail and I understood what had occurred.

Just before they had left, I told the boy that he didn’t need to take his overnight duffle bag to school. He had this slight panicked look and involuntarily started to move toward it, then stopped. I noted that his reaction was odd at the time. He had been upstairs going back and forth between the bathroom and my son’s dark bedroom several times. Just as I went to ask him what he needed, he dodged downstairs for breakfast. The whole morning had this slightly unsettled feeling for me.

Since my son was crying, I immediately went to the duffle bag. The Bakugan weren’t there but under the clothes I found my son’s coin collection and his cub scout flashlight. Since he wasn’t crying about these items, I ignored them.

What do you do? All I wanted was for the Bakugan to come back. Bakugan were the main thing on his Christmas list and now he was without the few he had earned.

I called the parent and happily reported that they were off to school on time. Then I explained that my little guy was crying because he woke up and his toys were missing from his desk. I didn’t think my older son had moved them. Could he ask his son about it? There was worry on both sides about how to handle this, but still hope for a happy ending. However, a couple of phone calls later, I was told that they were in my house. The boy claimed they had been playing a keep-away-game where he held the Bakugan hostage. The boy didn’t remember anything. When I explained that he had been keeping them “hostage” in his hoodie pocket until my son removed them, there was some anger from the parent. The boy is willing to share a few of his Bakugan with us.

Even my little one said, “He is just trying to make himself feel better.” Yes, I explained, it’s called “alleviating guilt”.

No one wants for anyone to be upset. I’ve lost two nights sleep.

I haven’t mentioned the other items in the bag or the fact that one day last summer all my older son’s best Yu-gi-o cards disappeared. They had been playing with them and when the boy left my son went over to his decks on the table and all the best cards were gone. We didn’t say anything. We don’t want to start trouble or accuse a friend. You don’t know how to make that phone call. I made the call this time but the parent believes his boy would not lie. I’m struggling.

One part of me thinks I should just forget about it. We already accepted that we lost our best cards a long time ago. We are hoping that the Bakugan my mother-in-law bought for Christmas are an exact replacement. In the meantime, we gave him one of his Santa presents and frantically paid a fortune online to get another one delivered so that Santa doesn’t look bad. You can’t buy these toys in stores because they sell out immediately.

But what do I do next time the boy comes over to our house knowing that he has probably been taking things each time?

Do I frisk him down and go through his bag? Of course, I couldn’t do that in front of the dad. Okay, I can’t do it at all.

Do I talk with the boy myself? Tell him all I know? Warn him? It’s not my place. What good would it do? He lies to me about things all the time. You can’t have conversations like this with someone else’s child.

What if he starts to steal MY things? It’s an awful feeling. This is the feeling my sons have now. We all know what is happening.

The boy needs help. He needs to learn that he can’t take things. What if I don’t say anything and he gets arrested for taking something? Don’t I have a responsibility to try to teach him right from wrong? I care about this family.

I don’t want to l lose the friendship because they can never visit us again. I don’t want to lose the friendship because I tell the whole story and there is anger at me. Bad feelings will hang between us. I’ve spent days trying to find the right words. If I tell the whole story, I still won’t be able to trust the kid, and I probably will have lost a friend.

I want my sons to learn from this situation and I’m afraid that no matter what I do it will be wrong. Do I teach that you keep friends you don’t trust and let them take from you? Do you discard friends when they do wrong? Do you try to help someone with a problem? Can the boy really be helped?

I think I’m going to lose some more sleep.

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14 Responses to What Do You Do When Your Friend’s Kid Steals From You?

  1. Colin Dorman says:

    Hi,

    A very difficult situation I agree, but you need to be strong both for your sons sakes and his.

    By ignoring the situation you are teaching your friends son and your sons that stealing is OK and that to turn a blind eye to it is OK.

    I’m sure this is not what you want your sons to learn.

    It will also act to undermine your teaching and philosophies that you teach your kids.

    My advice, phone the parents explain the problem and tell them the boy is barred from your home until the stolen items are returned and they assure you that he has been spoken to and that it will not happen again.

    If you do not the matter will escalate until either money or something of value disappears.

    Also your sons will feel that you are unable to protect them or their belongings in their own home.

    How would you feel if it was your friend and no-one did anything?

    Hope this helps.

    Good luck

    Colin

  2. Doc McConnell says:

    Here are my two cents, which are worth far less than what you’ve already lost, I’m afraid.

    You know that you can’t allow this behavior to go on. It’s harmful to your children, your family, and ultimately, to the boy himself. So the real question boils down to whom you talk to first.

    I suggest that you explain the situation to your boys, who are old enough to understand what’s going on. Emphasize to them the importance of discretion, and tell them how you plan to handle the situation and why — that will reinforce the lessons that you want them to learn. Bad things happen in life, but you can teach them how to deal with bad situations by maintaining moral responsibility.

    Then talk to the parent. Don’t request compensation or recommend action, just make the parent aware of the situation so he can handle it as he sees fit. If you lay out the facts as you’ve put them here, there’s no denying that the friend is a thief. If the parent denies it anyway, then maybe your children aren’t the only ones who need to reconsider their choice of friends.

    I am sorry that you’ve been put in such an uncomfortable situation, but the silver lining is that you can teach your children a valuable life lesson.

    Good luck.

  3. Ashley says:

    Hi,

    Ithought you might wanted to have a childs point of view… I think it will help alot. One of my BEST FIRENDS since i was 4 yrs old has been stealing from me since THE DAY SHE MET ME. I was destroyed when i had so called “lost” my stuffed animal i had since i was born. I “lost” it when i was 5 yrs old and i found out JUST TODAY which is 7 yrs later, she has been stealing many, MANY things from me! Infact she has a stash of my things! I was having a sleep over at her house and i woke up in the middle of the night feeling bad vibes from her house… Searching for something to occupie myself, I came across a giant box marked ‘Barbies’ on it. I opened it thinking i should use those to eccupie myself AND THERE LIES MY MISSING THINGS. I knew there was something going on very strange from the beginning because my mom is a neat freak and HATES losing things. So most of the time, it just doesn’t happen. I didn’t take anything because i was raised beleiving stealing was a VERY BAD THING. So i ignored it and tried to confront her later. I told her i found my missing things in her house AND SHE COMPLETELY DENIED EVERYTHING. She said they were all hers that she got from her grandma and her aunt and mother. That is when i started losing sleep, getting paranoid when i leave her in a room by herself, hiding all my things before she comes over, staying awake all night leeps over, and many other symtoms I an’t rid of. It isn’t the nicest feeling- that’s for sure.

  4. raisekidswithintegrity says:

    I really appreciate all this. We are going thru this right now. I am mortified that some parents are so dead set on denying their kid would do this that they will defend them and deny it when the evidence is glaring. Friendships will be lost over this because you cannot trust the kid, a) and b) your opportunity to teach and reinforce your family’s values, and validate your kid’s reality is paramount. You cannot pass this opportunity up because the message you would be sending is destructive on so many levels. Peace at any price does not pay. It saddens me that parents look the other way because these kids are not bad kids. To me, its a common sign of emotional stuff going on. Issues are so common in families, much of it dysfunctional-divorce, abuse. I would never shame a kid for doing this because there is obviously more to it, a, and most important its not my place. What IS my place is MY kid.

  5. cynthia says:

    Yesterday I had to tell my neighbors that there daughter stole my necklaces of mine. I also caught there daughter in the past week 3 times stealing my items ! They first seemed annoyed it was mentioned . Then I was told its just costume jewlery and when I said unless the necklaces are returned which have a value of over $500 dollars my neighbor the husband who my husband knows his whole life .. He attacked my and 2 year old daughter in the front yard and told me to sue him???? For the past 1 year his kids are at my house atl east once a week I feed them i play them and know because I caught his daughter stealing my jewlery he rather get into a fighjt with us than just returned the stuff!!! Im so upset with him and his wife on how they handled this … I want to call the police on them at this point !!!

  6. diane says:

    my neighbor’s kid cross the bacony and went into my kids room and stoled seven video games at sixty dollars a piece,abox of legos about two hundredand matchbox cars,neighbor said no way and wont go in their kids room to look.i know they did this what do i do now.

  7. Confronting a friend is never easy. We never did get the toys back, even after the stealing was eventually acknowledged. I’m left feeling that I didn’t advocate for my son properly by insisting they bring the toys back. The friend never really came over again.

    Since then we’ve had even more valuable things stolen in different circumstances by different people. It never ends. As adults we need to protect our belongings and lives just as much. These are hard lessons we all need to learn. Teaching how to trust people, and at the same time protect yourself, is so difficult.

  8. Annie B. says:

    Thanks for this post. It speaks to everything I’ve been feeling since our older child’s friend swiped toys from our youngest in a very similar situation. Gently telling his mother obviously brought a lot of quiet hurt, and the toys stolen have disappeared completely, probably leaving her embarrassed and unsure of what to do or believe. It’s so sad all around. We can’t have that boy in the house anymore, and while I would like to repair the relationship, I think that’s not really possible or realistic right now. It’s OK to feel a little angry and a little hurt. And then we have to act responsibly on behalf of our family. In this case it means that we can’t have the boy in our house anymore. Yes, it’s sad, and it hurts, and there’s no way I can fix it. And it’s OK to accept that. But I will pray for the boy and his mother. And I will encourage my children to be kind at school, even though we all need to understand why this particular friend can’t come over anymore.

  9. My very good friend’s eleven year old daughter has come and visited my home many times and has gone into the play house in the yard as well as the one shop which has many items stored after a recent move. I had a red wagon with wooden sides. Today I noticed this child and her friend were pulling a red wagon with wooden sides. I checked the shop and my wagon is missing. I confronted the girls and they denied the wagon they have is mine. Then I confronted the mother, my friend and she acted like she was not sure they did or did not have a wagon like that but would ask her husband. It is obvious the child no doubt took my wagon. It is also clear the mother should have questioned who the wagon belonged to in their garage. The girl does lie, and now i am just devastated that this child would do this to me after I have driven she and her sisters to places, fixed them a meal, bought them Christmas and birthday presents. The mom does admit the child lies, but she seemed tonight to take the concern of the wagon lightly. Now, I feel so disappointed in the girl and the mom. You should be able to trust a friend and their child.

  10. Morgan says:

    ( i know this was from a while ago but I am trying to figure it out now as it has been on my mind for years and I want to know someone else’s opinion. I moved with my Daughter and 2 Sons about 4 years ago as she was in 5th grade. My oldest had friends but they never came in the house. He went to the park where we live and played with them. (He is older and is moved away as he is much older now but comes and visits often) and my other boy was friends with the 3 kids my daughter met at the park they lived in the same neighborhood. She had them in the house but after they become “Good” friends things disappeared they were in our house CONSTANTLY everyday they took video games and other toys even caught the one kid stealing stuff on video as she made a video with the 2 girls. I let this go along for as long as they were living where we were in the same neighborhood I let them continue taking things as my daughter was very lonely and she doesn’t know how to make friends. They moved away 2 years ago but now that they don’t live near us they want nothing to do with us (Using us I believe ) What should we do to make sure this would never happen again? she was 10 at the time she is 14 now.

  11. Heather says:

    My son is on the Autism spectrum and has always struggled to make friends. One boy has been his friend for 7 years, and has slept over several times. Last time a few boys were over for the night (trying to show my son he does have friends) including this one. My son has a habit of wrecking charging cords so his phone was dead for a week after. When we got new ones he went to plug it in and couldn’t find it. We tore his room apart, the whole time my husband saying “I bet I know who took it!”. I did not want to believe it. This young man has a crappy home life, and I have really tried to help him out.
    I told my son not to say anything to him. He’s not exactly tactful, and I still was hoping it wasnt true. My husband had put the find my iphone app on it, and it popped up today. It instantly showed my husband where it was, and let him lock it. He called the home and a girl answered saying a boy gave it to her. I went and picked it up and she very quickly gave me the name I was dreading. I was crushed. I called my own mom for advice. This kids dad is not someone I consider a good parent. I’ve heard him yelling at his son, and am fairly sure he hits him a lot. My husband and I decided we won’t tell the father, but tomorrow morning I will go to school and let him know he can’t come over anymore.

  12. Emisue says:

    I am currently having this problem too. My kids are 5,3, and 1 and the kids at question are 10, 7, and 3. They are all girls. My oldest is a girl and it is mostly here stuff missing. I know for a fact that they have stolen clothing items of my daughters and a set of fisher price binoculars that were actually my husband as a child as I found this at there house and have seen them wearing my daughters clothes! However, recently I have had other things come up missing after they’ve been around but I can not really accuse them of involving shopkins, 2 tablets, and a smart phone (no plan, just for games and WiFi use). I asked their father about the shopkins. I ask them to ask his kids if they seen them and maybe put them somewhere where they didn’t belong at my house.
    When he responded he told me that if I was upset he would pay me for them. Which leads me to believe they took them and he knows they did and he is not doing anything to correct this. I told him I did not want his money, I just wanted to find my missing toys.

    The tablets and phone are the most recently missing items. I’m about fed up and I no longer know how to handle this situation, but with Christmas coming up I am wondering if I should just cut my losses and lose this friendship as well.

  13. Mary jackson says:

    Hi I have just read all of these poor lovely and kind people’s stories and realise that I feel mine needs to be published to.I myself and my three daughters have been victims of theft.It was a significant amount of my girls stuff that was stolen when I allowed this girl who is 11 to come into ny home and do this.She was appearing to be polite and nice but all along she was stealing from us right under our noses.Its so funny that the more kind and caring and giving you are to these type of children it seems the more they take Avantage ofyou and this girl obviously done it before. She has been in 4 schools in two years and I can only imagine why.She would always bring bags with her into my home and at the time you think it’s strange but you trust her and not think twice.I haven’t been successful getting my daughters belongings back and it’s a shame her dad thinks instead of dealing with his daughters behaviour that he threaten me instead.These people know the law that you have to be 14 years before Australia deems that a child can commit a crime.Littke use for me now other than wait to see how the first day back at school goes.Unfortunatley for my girls they suffer and will never trust again but I’m worried they will end up looking like the aggressors towards that little thief because they are angry with her.I love this Austrslian law that’s says a child under 14 can come into my home and do pretty much what they want steal my big diamond ring and do nothing about it.Goid on you Australian Law.I must let my daughters fill their pockets Everytime we go into other people’s homes.Pissed off that you can’t have anyone in your because the law is the law and we must do bag searches and put a bloody alarm on your door and label all your possessions with security tags just like the shops now.

  14. DaisyStar says:

    I try to keep a peaceful environment at home, and I don’t especially value stuff… our home is pretty empty, so I notice if something is moved or missing. My kids are friends with the only other kids in the neighborhood, and one of them steals so much that we are missing most of our toys. My son asked to buy more. I told him, “What’s the point? The toys will be lost the next day anyway.” He agreed. He could keep his toys in his room (only family is allowed upstairs), but then why have toys if you can’t share the play with friends? We asked the friends to check for the missing toys, in case they were “accidentally” picked up – to let them save face. Nothing was “found”. Friends will steal, even adult friends will, and there are many different cultural rules too. You either draw the line and cut ties, or consider it as a cost of doing business. I’d let your kids make the call, and just outline the pros and cons of each option. Watch out though – eventually your kid could get in trouble by hanging out with low-quality troublemakers. A shopping trip could turn into a criminal record as an accomplice. I’m more concerned about the influence of troublemakers, than a little toy thieving. Oh, and that quoted conversation was in front of the friends, but they didn’t seem to care.

    I knew a boy once who came from a whole family of petty thieves. They’d brag about everything they got away with…from packing their purses with food at buffets to cheating taxes. In HighSchool, the boy was caught stealing a bat from his teammate and beaten and quit the team. He had talent; he could have gotten sports scholarships. Ended up being a career criminal. Last I head, he was in jail and a drug addict.

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