How To Spot A Kleptomaniac

Kleptomania is an impulse-control disorder that manifests in a very strong and often uncontrollable urge to steal. When a person suffers from this disorder, people around them will notice that they steal all sorts of things, even those things with little or no values.

Kleptomania has also been noted to be common among those with bulimia or obsessive compulsive disorder.

Sometimes people have family and friends who may be kleptomaniacs; if they are not in an environment where people acknowledge mental, psychological  and other such disorders, they may not quickly make the connection. They may put it down to greed or foolishness and as a result, not to be able address this issue. This is especially important as it concerns children so that such a disorder is given an adequate response.

Signs of kleptomania

Absence of malice or motive

Kleptomaniacs do not steal from people because they have something against them, they also do shop-lift or pilfer because of need or greed. The thing that separates them from petty thieves and shop-lifters is that their stealing is not propelled by any specific reason except for a strong urge or as a way to alleviate anxiety

An urge to steal

People suffering from kleptomania steal because they have a strong urge to steal. They hardly ever need the things they steal and hardly ever use them.

They often have a lot of anxiety and tension which they use stealing to alleviate. When asked, they are not able to explain why they steal and are very unhappy about it.

Relief through stealing

This is why they can hardly ever stop; kleptomaniacs often feel a sense of relief after stealing.

While some may feel guilty, self-loathing or afraid after stealing, they still claim that they felt a great pressure that could only be relieved after they have taken something.

Uncontrollable and obsessive urge

For kleptomaniacs, stealing is an irrational obsession that makes it an impulse disorder. No matter how much they hate doing it, they will repeat the act.

Lack of manic behaviour

Kleptomaniacs are not insane; outside of this urge to steal, they are well functioning people. They do not need an accomplice to steal and are not motivated by criminal intentions, they will take what the feel like and leave the place.

Kleptomania does not include conduct disorders, violence or psychotic behaviour. A kleptomaniac is just an otherwise normal person who has steals impulsively.


The only way to help a kleptomaniac is refer him/her to a psychotherapist immediately. Blaming, shaming or punishing them does not work.