How to Handle a Friend When She Steals From You

Confront your friend face to face in a private location.
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Having a friend steal from you can leave you grieving the loss of your stuff and feeling betrayed and violated by the friend, according to educator Deborah Schoeberlein in “When a Friend Steals From You” for Huffington Post. Getting your stuff back might be the easy part, but the loss of trust could end your friendship.

1 Confronting Your Friend

You need to confront your friend and hold her accountable for her actions, according to the Boys Town National Hotline staff in “My Daughter's Friend Is Stealing Items and Money From Our House” for If you catch her red-handed, she might not lie to you about the theft, but without definitive proof she could lie to cover up the theft. Let her know that you intend to monitor her actions any time she is around you to ensure that she doesn’t walk off with your things again.

2 Discover Her Motivation

Understanding why she stole from you could help you decide whether to keep her as a friend. Some people steal to prove they can get away with, to exercise power when they feel powerless or to compensate for things they are missing, according to psychologist Michael Thompson in “Eight-Year-Old Boy Stealing” on his website. She could tell you that she only meant to borrow your stuff and return it later because she really needed what she took. Remind her that borrowing something requires asking for permission.

3 Consequences of the Theft

Your friend might not understand how deeply violated you feel by her theft. Explain your emotional response, suggests psychologist Carl Pickhardt in “Adolescence and Stealing from Family” for “Psychology Today.” Use “I” messages, such as “When I discovered money missing from my wallet, I felt violated and unsafe" or "I wondered how I could be friends with someone who steals from me.” She might not realize that her actions took more than material stuff. If she apologizes and you find a way to reconcile, ask how she plans to restore your sense of trust and safety.

4 The Aftermath

Depending on the depth of your friendship, the item stolen and her apology, you could maintain the friendship by treating her with compassion, suggests Schoeberlein. Draw clear boundaries regarding future behavior and restitution. It’s OK to let her know that you won’t trust her until she can prove that she won't steal again. Explain that you will end the friendship if she repeats the offense. If you aren’t extending forgiveness, you could end the friendship immediately.

Rev. Kathryn Rateliff Barr has taught birth, parenting, vaccinations and alternative medicine classes since 1994. She is a pastoral family counselor and has parented birth, step, adopted and foster children. She holds bachelor's degrees in English and history from Centenary College of Louisiana. Studies include midwifery, naturopathy and other alternative therapies.