Recently I've had an issue with a family member stealing from our house...
My MIL lives in a house with four apartments in it- she's on the main floor, and her cousin, his wife, and their three kids (5, 9, 11) live in the attic. Recently her cousin and his wife have been going through some marital issues.. I don't know how much the kids know, but I know it's got to be hard on them.
Anyways, we recently had two gatherings at our house- Christmas, and my DDs birthday (the 22nd). On Christmas, my DDs got a few Playmobil sets. Once all of the guests left, it became apparent that all of the Playmobil people (seven of them!) plus an ambulance stretcher were missing. MIL was still over and we searched high and low. MIL swore she knew it was the 11yo girl cousin. Let's call her J. Apparently J has taken toys from my MIL's mom (she cares for a child). MIL's mom lives upstairs from MIL, downstairs from the 11yo. I also found out that J frequently writes on walls and things like that. She once wrote her dad's name on my DDs brand new bike. Anywho, MIL swore that she'd "open an investigation" and return the people safely home.
The next day, after catching wind of the open investigation, J came downstairs and returned six playmobil people to my MIL. She alleged that a little boy who was also at our house for Christmas "put them in her stocking by mistake". No. Her stocking was hanging on my mantle when this little boy went home. And he's 2. He didn't do it. MIL thanked her. MIL doesn't want to stir the pot. We let it be..
Then today happened. MIL watches the kids whileDH and I work. When we got to the house to pick the kids up, we found out that they were all with MIL playing upstairs at J's house. When they opened the door, my 5yo was holding the big rainbow playsilk my 3yo got for her birthday- on the 22nd. [[[I hadn't seen the playsilk since they unwrapped it at their party. We searched high and low. I thought DD misplaced it. She swore she didn't and had been beside herself- it meant a lot to her.]]] My 5yo DD told me, "J said I left this here... but I never brought it here!" and when i asked her where she found it, she told me that it was hidden in the back of J's desk drawer.
This 11 year old girl stole from my house on two separate occasions- she first knowingly stole my 3yo's birthday present, and then stole the playmobil stuff. And she's still holding one playmobil figure AND the little stretcher for the ambulance hostage.
We haven't really discussed this with my 5yo- but she has an inkling that J stole her stuff. How the heck can I explain this to my DD?!
No one wants me to talk to J's parents. I get it. It's not a good time. But supposedly it will cause a ton of family turmoil and drama. And they might deny it because of their pride. But it worries me- what if J is stealing for attention? What if she steals my 3 month old's bottle from MILs house for the attention? Her formula? What if she steals shoes, something of importance? I told my MIL that she's only going to get older and start stealing more expensive things. No one will listen.
Also, this must be more than a cry for attention, because she has always kind of acted out. When she was little she used to pinch people. Then she started writing on other people's walls. Belongings. Hurting people and blaming other kids. I just don't know what's up. Her parents were in a very strong relationship and their family was very close knit- her antics have been going on since long before their marriage trouble.
So WWYD. Bite the bullet? And what do I tell my kids?! I'm losing sleep.