I (M25) come from a very affluent family, but my parents were absent during my childhood. I have three siblings: Mike (M22), Liz (F20), and Jane (F18). By the time my siblings came along, my parents realized they hadn't cared for me as they should have, so they began showing more affection to my siblings, with Jane being their favorite.
Most of my childhood was spent with my grandpa. I am aware that I have led an extremely privileged lifestyle, surrounded by wealth and connections, but I've always felt a void when it comes to family, except for my grandpa. He still favored me, even though he doted on my siblings too.
When he passed away earlier this year, he left me a substantial inheritance, along with some memorabilia of the time we spent together. These items, which include sports memorabilia, show tickets, musicals, cruises, signatures, and personal items, would be worth thousands if sold, but their sentimental value to me was priceless.
When my grandpa's will was read, I believe my parents understood why I was given a larger share compared to my siblings. My relationship with them had improved as we all cared for my grandpa in his final years, and they made efforts to show more love. However, my siblings, especially Jane, were argumentative.
Jane is a hypocritical person. In her social circles, she champions equality, but at home, she is the most spoiled and demands her share of everything. While Mike and Liz reluctantly accepted their inheritance shares, Jane went to great lengths, yelling, screaming, and even accusing me of being illegitimate, which finally got my parents to reprimand her.
Fast forward to last month, during a visit to the family house, I noticed a significant amount of memorabilia missing. I initially assumed they had been put into storage, but I later found out that Jane had taken them with some of her friends. My parents were surprised that I was unaware of this, as Jane had claimed that I had agreed to sell these items for charity.
I didn't say anything more to my family. Instead, I contacted my lawyer and instructed them to charge Jane with larceny. I also made the situation public. Predictably, Jane was shocked.
Last week, my family called for an "intervention" meeting. By this point, my parents had learned that I had never agreed to sell the memorabilia, but they still wanted me to drop the charges and handle the matter "internally."
Jane, understandably, was in hysterics, fearing the damage this drama could do to her social standing, especially since her friends believed that I had donated the items.
To be honest, I couldn't care less. I have little empathy for my siblings, and while I acknowledge my parents are trying, they still tend to side with Jane. I've distanced myself from them and told them that the only way I would drop the charges is if I get my memorabilia back - the actual items, not their monetary value.
My friends, whose opinions I value, believe that I might be going too far in charging my own family and that it's somewhat of a harsh move to publicly accuse Jane of theft. The potential social repercussions on our family could be extremely negative. However, I believe I am not in the wrong, which is why I'm reaching out here. AITA?
OP responded to some questions:
How much the stolen items were actually worth. Depending on where you live this can be classified as grand larceny, which carries a felony charge instead of the basic misdemeanor for petty larceny. The felony on her record will be way worse.
My country does not have grand larceny. However, my state does have brackets for larceny. For instance, more than $5000 (my currency) is the highest bracket for the value of a stolen item in my state.
To wealthy households, reputation is everything. Commit a crime? Easily swept under the carpet. There's a lot of duplicity that happens, and the only real damage that can be inflicted is reputation.
I had a grandfather I was close to as well. If I were in your shoes I would be incandescent with rage, and wanting to do a lot more to my sister than just get her charged with larceny. NTA.
It's a mixture of apathy and rage. I really don't associate with my siblings at all. In all fairness, I DO want Jane's social standing to be taken down not just a peg, but straight into the dirt.
Here are some of the top comments:
NTA (Not the A%#hole). This was an attempt by her to hurt you because she couldn't accept that you were more important to your grandparents than she was.
If I were in your place, I would go for the jugular. If my treasured items were stolen because someone was a little upset, I'd be extremely angry. Billboards are always an option. Also, she has revealed her biggest fear/weakness: Social standing, so target that.
Tell her you'll put an open letter/ad in the paper, asking for the objects back at the prices paid for them because the memories are so important to you. Now that you know her Achilles' heel, she either returns your belongings or you take away what she values most, her social status.
OP, NTA (Not the A#%hole). Your sister deliberately stole your property to enhance her social status. I would personally make sure that her social circle knows she's a thief.
If your parents are taking Jane's side, ask them how they allowed Jane to take your belongings without verifying, especially when they were aware of the inheritance drama caused by Jane. I would tell them that if they continue to side with Jane, I'd consider legal action against them too, for being an accomplice in theft and larceny.
Honestly, it's ridiculous that they believe suing would tarnish the family name, while turning a blind eye to a literal CRIMINAL would not. Pursue legal action with all you've got. Don't give her any room to stand her ground.
What do you think? Is OP right to charge his sister with larceny?