Dear Savvy Auntie,

I am always tweeting you pics of my nieces and nephews cause they are so sweet and I love them more than words can describe... With that being said, my oldest niece, who is 17, is going through some problems because for the last three months, she has been stealing money from my father (her grandfather).

At first, my father thought he was misplacing money and it was driving him crazy. Recently, we marked the envelopes and found more money missing...

My family is so hurt by her. We bought a security camera and set it up and we know that eventually we will catch her in the act...I have that gut feeling it is definitely her and my father feels the need to record it on camera in order for him to be able to move forward after all of this. He says that when he sees the evidence, he is going to cut her out of his life forever.

I cannot say I blame him though, because he has given that girl everything she has ever wanted or needed. Her mother(my sister) passed away in 2006 and I understand that can cause behavioral problems...So I guess my question is, should I cut my niece out of my life after this? I don't know if I could cut her out forever because she was my first niece, and I was a young aunt (12) when she was born so I have always felt like we were more sisters than aunt/niece.What would you do? Would you involve the police?

I hope your having a great day and thank you!

Niece is Stealing!

Dear Niece is Stealing!,

Since you did not mention the amount(s) your niece took, nor the frequency, I can only reply in a general way.

The most important element in this family upset is your niece! It is a cry for help!
The last thing your niece needs is to be cut off from anyone in the family.  She needs to be spoken to now more than ever.

I suggest you go to a family therapist so the conversation will be constructive and not inflammatory. Meanwhile when you (hopefully with your dad) speak to her, she should be given consequences. Service to her grandfather is ideal...doing dishes for a period of time, laundry, running errands, or grocery shopping come to mind.

An adolescent girl who has lost her mother needs all the love, understanding and attention a family can give! Think about special “girlie” outings you can do together as well as home projects e.g..: cooking, baking, or arts and crafts. And please keep in mind that approximately 70% of all teenage girls steal within their families.

Perhaps the most important question to determine is what she is using the money for. She is not a criminal; she is a teenage girl who needs help! Your father is completely on the wrong track; criminalizing her behavior and contacting the authorities/police are the last resort.
Best of luck,
Natalie Robinson Garfield ,

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