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Is Mom Misplacing Things, Or Is Someone Stealing Them?


My mother hides things, and her behavior is causing strife in my family. You see, she hides money, jewelry, or any other small thing of value that she can. The strife comes when we, the children, suspect each other. In fact, there has been some history of my siblings helping themselves to certain items in mother's home. When something goes missing we are never sure if Mom “squirreled it away” in a sock or pocket somewhere, or if a sibling snatched it.

This dilemma is making for constant concern and potential conflict. As you can imagine, Mom's memory is not the best anymore, so we desperately need a solution. Do you have any ideas?


I have lost count of how many times I have encountered this situation. Misplaced items are a constant challenge for healthcare workers and the families we serve. In your situation, it does not sound like anyone other than family members play into your scene.

So, let's explore your options. With today's technology many more solutions are available to you than in the past. 

You need to start with your mother. I am not certain at what level her understanding is right now, but it is important that she is accepting of the plan, even if she does not remember it.

Tell her that all unnecessary valuables will be placed in a safe deposit box at a bank, e.g., valuable jewelry she no longer wears, coins, or other small items.

I recommend you purchase a large-enough safe for the items she plans to keep in her home. If she wants them on display, place them in a locked cabinet or room and store the key in the safe. The safe combination should be worn in a locket around her neck that is never taken off.

The next step is installing a motion-sensitive camera that is trained on the safe, recording anytime someone approaches.

These are relatively simple and inexpensive solutions for her memory issues and are far less expensive than a valuable ring, which is so easy to misplace or pocket.

The final and most important step is to inform everyone of what you did to solve the problem. It accuses no one and puts a casual thief on notice, hopefully deterring less than ethical behavior.

Mother may resist at first, so you need to assure her that you are setting this up for everyone’s peace of mind. Let her know that hunting for things that may or may not be there is stressful and time consuming, and not how you want to spend your time together.

I wish you success.

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