Theft is when somebody takes, steals or pinches something from you without your permission, and has no intention of giving it back.

This content has been written for children and young people. If you’re looking for information for over 18s, visit our Types of Crime information about theft.

It can be really upsetting when something that belongs to you – maybe something you’ve saved up for, or something that was given to you as a gift – is stolen. It can also make you feel scared or unsafe.

Everyone responds differently to different crimes but however you feel, remember that’s it’s never your fault – only the offender is to blame and nobody has the right to damage or destroy your things.

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If you are a victim of theft it means something is taken from you. It could happen at school, on the bus, at home, on the street or anywhere.

If somebody breaks into a property – such as your home or a shop – and steals something, that is known as burglary.

If someone takes something from you by hurting you, or threatening to hurt you, that is known as robbery.

Being a victim of theft can make you feel worried, sad, scared or angry, especially if you feel like you’re trying to deal with this all on your own. Lots of young people find that it can help if they talk to someone. Some things you can do are:

  • Talk to an adult you trust – this could be a family member, a teacher, your youth worker, social worker or support worker. Tell them about what’s happened and how it has made you feel. It can be difficult to know how to have this conversation; we have some tips on asking for help.
  • If you’re worried or feel unsafe because of what’s happened, talk to your trusted adult about making a safety plan, which would help you choose how best to keep yourself safe.
  • Talk to your friends; a good friend will listen to you and may help you speak to an adult.
  • Think about reporting it to the police. If you think you are at immediate risk of getting hurt, call 999.

Young people who’ve been a victim of theft often ask ‘why is this happening to me?’ It is important to know that this is not your fault and you can get help. If you are worried about a friend, we have some tips on how you can start the conversation and get them the right help.

Victim Support’s Children and Young People Services – you can contact your nearest Victim Support office, call the 24/7 Supportline, contact us via live chat, or if you are 16 or older, you can create a My Support Space account. This is a free, safe and secure online space where you can work through interactive guides to help you move forward after crime.

Childline – 24-hour support for young people, both on the phone and through online chats and message boards, on crime, safety and a range of other issues: 0800 1111.

The Mix – information and support for under 25s on a whole range of issues. Get confidential help by email, text, webchat or phone: 0808 808 4994.

Crimestoppers – if you want to provide information about a crime without talking to the police, you can contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.