4 Reasons Why Teens Steal

Did you discover your teen is stealing money from you? Is your teen using your credit card — to order things online, possibly drugs? Has your teen been arrested for stealing?

It can be extremely frustrating and challenging to parents that raise their children with good morals, values and principles. You need help with your troubled teenager.

Does this describe your teen:

PexelSneakersSteals money from parents or others?
-Have they used your credit card online?
-Steals your car?
-Caught shoplifting? Or you found items s/he stolen from a store?
-Arrested for possession of drugs?
-Stolen alcohol, caught underage drinking?
-Lying to you about items new items they have?

4 Reasons Why Teens Steal

1. Peer pressure.

Teens want to belong; they want to fit-in — even if it means behaving badly. One of the biggest reasons teens steal is peer pressure — proving they are cool enough to hang out with a certain group or clique.

This is especially dangerous because if your teen can be convinced to break the law for petty theft, there is a strong possibility he or she can be convinced to try other, more dangerous behaviors, like drinking or drugs. It is because of this that it is imperative you correct this behavior before it escalates to something beyond your control.

2. Lack of funds.

It’s a want rather than a need, and they simply can’t afford it so they decide to steal an item. Teens are very peer influenced, and may feel that if they don’t have the ‘in’ sneakers or want alcohol, they’ll be considered less cool than the kids.

If your teen cannot afford these items, they may be so desperate to fit in that they steal the item. They may also steal money from you or a sibling to buy such an item. If you notice your teen has new electronics or accessories that you know you didn’t buy and they haven’t had a birthday recently — not to mention your teen doesn’t have a job or any source of money, you may want to ask about where these items came from.

3. It’s thrilling.

Teens may also steal simply for a thrill. Some young people are bored or testing the limits of authority — and steal for the thrill or the adrenaline rush. They may not even need or want the item they are stealing — but they are in it for the excitement. Often, friends accompanying teens who shoplift will act as a ‘lookout’ for their friend who is committing the theft.

Unfortunately, even if the lookout doesn’t actually steal anything, they can be prosecuted right along with the actual teen committing the crime, so it’s important that you make sure your teen is not aiding his or her friends who are shoplifting.

Maybe your teen is carrying drugs for another friend (as they tell parents when caught with substances — it’s never theirs) now you are facing possession of drugs, whether it’s at school or otherwise. What started out as being cool and thrilling, has ended up as being a disaster.

4. For attention.

Yet another reason teens steal is for attention. Negative attention is better than no attention. If your teen feels neglected at home, or is jealous of the attention a sibling is getting, he or she may steal in the hopes that they get caught and the focus of your attention is diverted to them.

If you suspect your teen is stealing or acting out to gain your attention, it is important that you address the problem before it garners more than just your attention, and becomes part of their criminal record.

Though unconventional, this is your teen’s way of asking for your help don’t let them down!

Is your teen stealing from you or others? It’s time to seek professional help. Talk to a counselor — if your teen refuses to attend, you may want to find a mentor for them. If you have a relative they respect or a close friend of the family can be helpful. Typically, negative behavior stems from something deeper going on — hopefully they will open up with a therapist or a trusted adult before it escalates into something serious.

Also read:

5 Benefits of Therapeutic Boarding Schools for Troubled Teens

Purpose of Boarding Schools for Troubled Teens

Why Teens Need Curfews


If your teen is facing legal consequences or you realize they are taking things that don’t belong to them, reach out for help.  If they refuse to attend or you have exhausted your local resources, please contact us for more information on therapeutic boarding schools.


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Many parents are at their wit’s end with the challenges of raising teenagers. If you are considering residential therapy, contact us for a free consultation.

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