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Woman Guilt-Ridden When Police Get Involved After She Reports Stepdaughter For Shoplifting

Simon Marcus Taplin / Getty Images

How you handle when your child breaks the law can feel difficult. On one hand, you want to ensure they learn their lesson and change for the better, but on the other hand, maybe the authorities would be too much?

And Redditor randomstringofdisnon has the additional wrinkle that it isn’t technically her daughter that she’s in this situation with. Instead, the original poster (OP) is trying to figure out if she did the right thing with her boyfriend’s daughter.

So, OP decided to ask Reddit about how she handled the situation, and faces judgement for her actions.

The “Am I the A**hole (AITA) subReddit is the perfect place for this.

“AITA for getting the police called on my shoplifting stepdaughter?”

Here, Reddit users judge people to find out if they’re the bad guy or not.

“I have mixed feelings about this one and I’m not sure if I did the right thing. So as any logical person would do, I turned to reddit for answers!”

“I’m (41F[emale]), my stepdaughter is (17F) and I am not married to, but dating and cohabiting with her father (47M[ale]) for the last year, dating for 2.5 years.”

“Anyway. I don’t have any biological children, and never intended on having any, personally. Well, I met my current partner and at first I was super super apprehensive about him having a daughter.”

“Although the mom is present and active in the daughters life, and I’m not expected to do any mothering, his daughter does live with him simply because she prefers to. He promised me she is a really good kid and almost an adult when she’ll be leaving for college, so it won’t be a problem.”

“I was very naive because since I’ve moved in, I’ve been subject to plenty of meltdowns over her dad dating someone who isn’t her mom, and her acting out a lot by coming home very late in the night and stealing his car keys and joyriding with friends. None of it has been very serious of course but we haven’t gotten along even though I’ve tried to find something we have in common.”

“She seems to dislike me on principal.”

“Onto a few days ago… I was doing some shopping when I ran into my stepdaughter in an unidentified discount supermarket.”

“She was with a few friends. I panicked, silly as it sounds, and hid so she didn’t see me because I didn’t want her to feel awkward in front of her friends, and I don’t know how much she has told them about me or what and that’s her business.”

“Anyway I tried to do the rest of my shopping while avoiding the group when I saw my stepdaughter slipping some makeup products into her purse with ease.”

“I wish I hadn’t seen it but I did and I kept watching to see if they did it again and saw a few friends slipping things into pockets and bags, too. She ended up spotting me (duh, at this point I was watching them) and her face went really white and they started to head to the check out to buy a few bags of sweets.”

“I watched them pay, they didn’t pay for the things they stole, and so I informed the security guard of what I’d seen. I thought she would just get a warning or something and get scared and never do it again.”

“Long story short, they called the police and apparently they had been building a case on her and her friends for a few months now and she had stolen several hundred dollars of merchandise. They were basically waiting for it to hit a certain amount so it was worth pursuing if I understand it correctly.”

“My boyfriend is super super mad and is saying I should have just spoken to her and told her the risks instead because since the police is involved now, they will pursue it for sure and it will probably destroy her future at the college she’s worked very hard to get into.”

“I have mixed feelings because I would have done the same with anyone I caught shoplifting because I believe that’s the right thing to do but I’m also being called a major AH from every direction”

“So… AITA?”

Is OP the bad guy for turning in her stepdaughter?

On Reddit, the users of the board judged OP for telling the security guard about her daughter’s shoplifting by including one of the following in their response:

  • NTA – Not the A**hole
  • YTA – You’re the A**hole
  • NAH – No A**holes Here
  • ESH – Everybody Sucks Here

OP may feel like she caused her stepdaughter’s problems here, but the teen brought the issue on herself. All OP did was notify someone of what happened.

The Reddit users voted that she did nothing wrong, and it sounds like the stepdaughter was going to get caught soon enough.

The final vote was that OP was NTA.


“Your stepdaughter is now facing the consequences of her own actions.”

“Even in the case that you’d have gone over to her and told her to stop stealing, she’d have done it on another occasion. And since the store was already building a case against her, this would have just postponed everything” – 11point5characters

“NTA. The only dumb thing was telling your boyfriend you were the one that snitched on them. If they were already under surveillance, they might have been stopped without your intervention or someone else could have reported them.”

“I don’t see your home life getting any better though. Might be time to call it since he doesn’t seem interested in parenting his daughter.”

“Between the joy rides and the stealing, the stolen makeup probably has a lesser charge than a stolen car and less risk of harm to innocent bystanders.” – cassowary32


“But I understand why you feel bad. I’d feel bad as well. It’s an unfortunate situation but it sounds like she would’ve gotten caught with or without your intervention, eventually.”

“Being a step parent is difficult. Even if you’re just dating a teenagers father on the long-term, it’s hard.”

“My guy has a 16 year old and a 12 year old. They both live with their mothers and I can tell that soon enough they’ll want to run into his open arms once they frustrate their mothers to the point of no return.”

“The dynamic between fathers and daughters is unique. Being a kid from a single father myself, I’ve seen first hand how toxic it can be.”

“(my older sister was always able to play the victim and manipulate him to the point where NO ONE, even his girlfriend or wife, would no longer stand by his side as he allowed himself to be so obviously manipulated. It’s HARD).” – -Neutrality-


“What a lot of people here seem to have missed is the fact that the cops were only called because her and her friends have been seen, repeatedly. OP did not call the cops herself.”

“Honestly you did the right thing. If not you, someone else would have reported her. I’ve reported a number of people for stealing similar items.”

“Also SD saw OP and then instead of putting things back she still tried to steal, I don’t think a conversation was going to help.” – Auroraburst

However, not everyone agreed. Some felt that turning in her stepdaughter was too far.

And the police getting involved brought up a lot of thoughts about that.

“This may be an unpopular opinion. I think ESH.”

“The dad either is not in tune with how his daughter feels about the divorce or he just doesn’t care as much about her as he does himself. These last few years of her living at home were not the time to start living with another woman.”

“He put himself over her well-being and I think it’s selfish.”

“The daughter because she’s shoplifting. It’s illegal obviously and now she’s going to suffer the consequences. She may be acting out in part because of her unhappy home life.”

“You for moving in with a man with a teenage daughter when you don’t even want kids. You call her your stepdaughter but she’s not.”

“I mean, how weird that you’re hiding from her in a store and then instead of trying to help her by speaking with her and her father privately, you alert the authorities. Good luck going forward.”

“I suppose it’s possible she may thank you one day for putting her on the straight and narrow, but at least for now she probably doesn’t trust you at all and likely hates you.”

“What mess.” – BadgerGirl92

“YTA. Oh, I guess, technically, ESH since she shouldn’t have been stealing in the first place.”

“But hiding? Sneaking around gathering covert intelligence? Informing security rather than just confronting the girl (‘Put that back! We’re having a talk with your father tonight!’)? It all seems extremely asshole-ish to me.”

“Don’t complain that now, instead of going off to college and leaving you and your boyfriend in peace, your ‘stepdaughter’ will remain in your boyfriend’s home, a jobless couch potato, for the foreseeable future. Just remember, you did it to yourself.” – SamSpayedPI


“The security said they were waiting for it to hit a certain point so it was going to happen eventually. But never notify the police on someone you care about (even a little) unless they’re committing serious crimes.”

“Shoplifting from a dollar store? That really just deserved a talking to and telling her father.” – BurntCash

In the end, it’s not OP’s fault police are involved. She just told security, and couldn’t have predicted that they’d go this far.

And OP’s stepdaughter is the one who kept stealing from the same place so many times. If OP had done nothing, the stepdaughter would have likely been in trouble still.

Written by Ben Acosta

Ben Acosta is an Arizona-based fiction author and freelance writer. In his free time, he critiques media and acts in local stage productions.