Need a plan B. Paranoid Schizophrenic aunt steals important family items. Looking for a way to search her purse. Plan A has failed. Very frustrated. Need advise!


My aunt has paranoid schizophrenia. She has been living with my family (82 y.o. grandmother, my mother who just recently passed, and myself). I would say that her case is moderate. She can act appropriately in social situations, but it is obvious that something is right with her. She is unemployed and often walks to the bus stop and is gone from 8am-3pm. Living with her is all sorts of frustrating. She constantly harasses my grandmother (her mother). Just yesterday my aunt started calling her a worshiper of the devil. She is nearly impossible to reason with and does not take her medication. She has had an ongoing habit of stealing sentimental items and important documents. She has stolen her mother’s license, wedding ring and another ring, as well as her sister’s (my other aunt’s) many photos of daughter which she specifically said to her that she could not have. I believe she has stolen my mother’s bracelet that was given to my mother by her father. I am dying to have it back and asking for it wont do me any good. All she does is deny her taking anything. I consulted this forum once before asking if I had the right to search her room for said stolen items. It is difficult to search her room because she wraps most things in garbage bags or paper towels like it’s wrapping paper. It is difficult to go through all those things without leaving evidence that I was there. So I haven’t been able to search through very much. Although, my grandmother and I have concluded that my aunt keeps the most important things in her purse. We believe that she is keeping the stolen items in her purse. We suspect this because she keeps her purse with her at all times. I consulted this forum previously asking for suggestions on how to get to her bag without her knowing. Someone suggested I go in her room while she showers. It was a brilliant idea and I was excited at the thought that I would find what I was looking for but, am now very frustrated at the fact that she is so paranoid that she brings the purse into the bathroom with her when she showers.

I need a way to get into her bag. I am feeling a little desperate now. I am considering waiting for her to come downstairs where she places the bag on the dining room table and then grabbing it and bolting out the door. I know she wouldn’t be able to keep up with me. She’s 54 and not very athletic. I am 20 and quite the opposite. My main fear is that she will throw a tantrum and I don’t want my grandmother to feel overwhelmed by her. Since my mother’s recent death her health has wilted. My other aunt (also my mother’s sister, the one who’s photos were stolen) had come down from Colorado to assist me in caring for my grandmother. She is great to have around the house and feels just as frustrated and I do about my aunt. I know she will do her best to protect my grandmother from any backlash from my aunt.

So I need ideas and opinions. What do you think about my more direct approach to get into her purse? Also, should I go ahead and be thorough (in other words be forced to leave evidence that I was there) in searching her room if I don’t find everything I’m looking for in her purse. I know I can handle any of her reactions, tantrums and all.

Many thanks & happy holidays,


I guess you could try searching her purse while she is sleeping. Keeping in mind that this will probably contribute to her already bad paranoia. But if the items are that important then I would risk it. I search my son’s room for certain items but he is aware that I will do so for certain things. I have important items like certain rings in my purse and I take my purse to my room every night. Currently my son is doing well but in the past he has given me reason to do this. You could try the open approach of going through her purse with her in attendance. I’m guessing that wouldn’t go over very well but may be worth a try. Ask her if you can look for _______ as you can’t find it anywhere else. I’m sure she has her reasons for collecting these things or may not be aware that she is doing it. Have you considered the possibility that these items are no longer in her possession? Try to be prepared for that. Best of luck.


She would most likely wake when opened the door. We have noisy floors in the house and her’s especially bad. I have no doubt that she would catch me. She is very protective of all of her things, even her food she wraps and labels as hers. We have tried asking her if we could look in her bag but, she doesn’t allow it. I have considered that she may no longer have the items but, she wouldn’t throw things like that away. Anything my grandfather gifted to someone or bought/once owned, she highly values. The license could be gone but, that isn’t as important since my grandmother can’t drive anymore. Things like the photos and jewelry she wouldn’t throw away.


Why don’t you just call the police on her?


Call the police on her. Deepunderground is right.


I think calling the police would be an extreme measure. We’ve called the police on her before for other reasons. It’s just too exhausting. I would rather handle it on my own.


What does any of this have to do with schizophrenia? Theft is not a symptom. Schizophrenics are not criminals.


I never said she was a criminal. I’m just looking for a way to get my things back without causing a scene.


You still haven’t answered what this has to do with schizophrenia.

You post here because your schizophrenic aunt is a thief. You imply that because we’re also schizophrenic that we would understand her thieving ways. You imply that because we’re schizophrenics that we’d know a good way to steal your aunt’s purse.


In Dec 1999 when I suspected something wrong with my former U.S. woman, I went to her purse, searched it and then dumped it all on the floor, while she slept. Next day she was gone, and the marriage counsellor brought up the issue how I had searched her purse, and I never returned back to their counselling sessions and the marriage ended.

When I lived in my auto in Miami I saw how one sz person thought he can drink coke free at one Burger King, he did it very often, eventually cops arrested him and took him away and I never saw him again.


Sleeping pills. Dissolve a couple in her drink, or crush and mix in her food.
When they start to take effect, don’t hang around, or her paranoia will keep her on high alert. Let her doze off thinking you are at a safe distance.
If you’ve done it right, she will be out enough to allow you to take her purse to another room to search thoroughly without waking.
If you don’t find what your looking for (after the pills wear off) tell her you need the items (describe them in detail) back, and if they don’t reappear in the next day or so you will be forced to search every room in the house until the are found. Don’t over explain, or accuse, apologize or get excited. Keep it neutral but stress the fact the items WILL be found, and she can participate and make it easy, or sit back and watch as you tear her room apart. Don’t back down. Theft should NEVER be tolerated no matter the illness. To be a victim of theft is traumatizing enough without the insult of others allowing it to continue.


Maybe consider getting a third-party individual, such as a counselor, involved if you feel that calling the police would be too extreme.



Drugging her? I’m sorry but that is absolutely the worst advice I have ever seen posted on this forum. It is so bad that a part of me thinks you must be joking.

Not only is it illegal but it’s dangerous and morally wrong.

I’m truly shocked.


This isn’t a perfect world is it? I didn’t say to kill her. Don’t be so melodramatic.
You do what you have to do to get the job done. If this were the worst thing that ever happened to the aunt, she should consider herself lucky. Are you aware stealing is morally wrong? So is condoning the theft, and allowing the grandma to be victimized by this behavior. Get real.
You must have had a very sheltered life- or live in Berkley.
A good night sleep might actually help the aunt-paranoid people never get as much sleep as needed-always one eye open to guard their loot.
If drugging people were really illegal, know how full the prisons would be with people that held degrees? It makes me laugh you get so excited about the aunts rights and don’t consider the rest of the people her behavior affects.


I’m going to avoid insulting you on a personal level but I stand by my belief that your advice to drug this woman is by far the worst advice I have ever seen posted here.


Ok, after thinking about this and re-reading your posts I have to say bravo at your trolling. I actually believed that you were serious for a while.


Okay everyone. I really appreciate all of your input on this matter. Let’s not let this get out of hand. I would like to bring this topic to a close with this post. As tempting as it is for its ease I would much rather force the bag out of her hands than to drug her. A creative idea though.
I know I will find a way to solve this.
Thanks for the many laughs.


be upfront and honest with her instead of sneaking around contributing to the paranoia. Ask her if the items are in her purse and ask her why theyre in there. She probably knows you guys are out for it. Explain it does not belong to her and have one or two trusted family members that she is okay with there to keep your grandmother safe, if it gets out of hand call the cops. Being a schizophrenic does not give us the right to be a danger to other people especially older senior citizens safety first, materialistic things can wait til later


It’s a troll. Just ignore this thread.


My problem with asking her if she has things is that she will most likely deny it. She always does.