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My Flatmate Was Stealing from Me: A Case Study

By: Emma Eilbeck BA (hons) - Updated: 14 Oct 2010 | comments*Discuss
Flatmate Missing Possessions Stealing

We can all forgive the odd pint of milk going missing now and again, but if you find your possessions start to go missing on a regular basis, it could be that your flatmate has sticky fingers.

Most flatmates will fall out occasionally over things that go missing, but if you fear that your flatmate is helping themselves to your belongings you may have to confront them to put a stop to the thefts.

Watching Out For The Signs

Tracey had been living with her flatmate for around six months when she noticed things were going missing. She was in her early twenties and worked quite long hours, while her flatmate worked in the evenings so was home by herself a lot of the day.

“I went through all the proper checks when interviewing for a new flatmate. The girl I chose had great references and I thought instantly we would get on well,” says Tracey.But After the first six months Tracey started to notice small things disappearing.

“I couldn’t find a pair of my earrings one day and I remember just putting it down to me being clumsy and not remembering where they had gone. However this started happening more and more and it moved on to things such as CDs and DVDs,” explains Tracey.

Tracey was originally reluctant to assume that it was Lizzie as they had been getting on so well and she didn’t want to think the person she was living with and trusted might be stealing from her.

“I was out for most of the day at work and I started to keep my door locked just in case. Once I started to lock my door I found that Lizzie started to behave differently towards me and cold towards me, I suspected she knew I was on to her,” says Tracey.

Confronting Your Flatmate

Tracey had asked Lizzie on a number of occasions if she had seen the misplaced items, such as a pair of earrings and a necklace, but every time she did Lizzie would just dismiss it or blame Tracey for being forgetful.

“One day I decided that I had to take action and I cleaned out everything from my room to make sure I definitely did not have the missing items then I made a list of everything that was missing,” explains Tracey.

It is important when confronting flatmates that you do not go in and accuse them straight away as this could make any dispute even worse. It is best to take the calm approach and sit down with your flatmate to see if they can explain the missing items.

“I told Lizzie I wanted to speak to her and we both sat down in the living room. I started off by asking her if any of her possessions were missing and that I had made a list of mine that were. I asked her if she had seen them and she said no, though I got the feeling she was hiding something from me,” explains Tracey.

“I then explained that these items meant a lot to me and I was going to have to telephone the police in case somebody had broken into our house. At that point Lizzie immediately broke down in tears and confessed to stealing the items. She said she had been short of money and was selling them on,” says Tracey.

Taking Action

“Lizzie could tell I was upset and she offered to try and get the items back or repay me the money. I decided she would still need to move out as I could not live with somebody I didn’t trust,” says Tracey.

In the end Lizzie paid her back her money and moved out, Tracey did not call the police as she had her money back and didn’t want to take any action.

“I ended up finding a new flatmate but it did make me think twice about who I was inviting into my home. I always trusted Lizzie but what she did really shocked me,” says Tracey.

Not everybody is lucky enough to have a situation end so amicably with a flatmate who has been stealing from them. If you do suspect that your flatmate has been stealing from you but you do not expect them to react in a reasonable manner you should not confront them when you are by yourself. Have a friend waiting in the next room or have someone on standby you can call in case things turn nasty.

If you do suspect your flatmate of stealing items that are worth a lot of money you may also want to think about involving the police.

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