Teen Stealing

Teen stealing can vary from stealing money from parents to shoplifting, or worse. For a rebellious teen stealing may be a way to get back. An out of control teen may steal for the thrill. Learn about teen stealing, what they steal and why.

Teen stealing can take many forms and result from many causes. It can be a one-time occurrence or a seemingly incurable habit. This article provides an overview of teen stealing.

What’s the Proper Word?

It’s important to use the word stealing carefully. There is an age under which a child does not have an understanding of personal property or stealing. Using the word stealing if the child examines or takes someone else’s possessions may not only cause unnecessary friction, but may start something that will cause problems later.

It’s also important, all through life, to distinguish examining something and borrowing something from stealing something. Which word is the right one depends on the circumstances and everybody’s expectations. If child A sees a really cool gadget on child B’s bed and takes it into another room to see it in better light with every intention of returning it, that’s not stealing, even though child A may walk into the room, see that the gadget’s not there, and yell, “Someone stole my gadget!”

Similarly, if a family member keeps a bucket of change and bills out in the open, and another family member suddenly needs bus fare and takes it, intending to put it back when s/he returns, stealing is not the appropriate word. Because misunderstandings happen with trading, swapping, and borrowing, especially in a household with multiple children, it’s really important that there be a shared vocabulary and a shared set of ground rules for how everyone’s possessions are treated.

Why Teens Steal

Teens may steal for many reasons, some more trivial than others. Teen stealing may occur  to support a drug habit. Teen stealing may occur as part of a role in a gang. They may steal to punish someone they don’t like or because they see something that they want, but can’t afford. Some teen stealing is because they like the thrill of getting away with something, and some say that they steal in imitation of video games they have seen, such as “Grand Theft Auto.”

Some people feel that they are entitled or owed, and that the thing that they take is justice or payback for what they’ve suffered. About a third of shoplifters are depressed, and the fact that they tend to steal around the holidays or their birthdays suggests that they are trying to make up to themselves for what they have not received from external sources. Peer pressure can also play a role in teen stealing and teen shoplifting: 66 percent of teens say they hang around with teens who they know shoplift, according to the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention (NASP). But for many teens, they don’t actually know why they shoplift.

Teen stealing may be a symptom of kleptomania. A kleptomaniac is someone with a mental disorder that presents them with an irresistible urge to steal. Some teen stealing may be the result of the teen following in their parents footsteps. The National Crime Prevention Council reports that around 24 percent of shoplifters are teens, aged 13 to 17. This suggests that most shoplifters are adults, and it’s reasonable to expect that some of these adults are known by teens to be shoplifters and are involved in setting a bad example. Shoplifting, and perhaps other types of theft, may also become a teen addiction. More than half of adult shoplifters say that they started in their teens, according to NASP

What Teens Steal

There are any number of things that teens steal: money, gadgets, bicycles, video games, cars, drugs, and credit cards are a few of the items.Teen stealing happens in unlocked cars, from family members and relatives, and shoplifting. They may also download or share music, videos, videogames, and software without paying for it. Clothes and jewelry are other targets for teen stealing, as are food items, such as candy.



Related Article: Teen Anger >>