Blog Parents Parenting Tips From Shoplifting to Underaged Drinking: Why Do Teenagers Commit Petty Crimes?

From Shoplifting to Underaged Drinking: Why Do Teenagers Commit Petty Crimes?

Parenting is a tough job. It’s sometimes hard to know what goes on in your children’s minds.

It’s not without reason that the terms “going through puberty” or “rebellious phase” get thrown around a lot.

Playing hooky from school with a falsified MC, or breaking after-school curfews; teenager truancy comes in all shapes. But towards the deeper end, they are also capable of committing petty crimes.

When teenagers start shoplifting and or underaged drinking, that is when you as a parent must stamp your foot down. Of course, it is so much better if you could prevent them from doing so in the first place. This is why we’re here today to ask the question:

Why do teenagers commit petty crimes?

What Counts as a Petty Crime?


So what counts as “petty crimes”?

As you’ve guessed from the title, shoplifting and underaged drinking are the common offenders you’ll find in Singapore.. 

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Public misconduct, or perhaps trespassing in private property. These are all infractions that can get your child into trouble, but not to the extent that it’ll be incriminating.

But in rougher places, the teen may be more inclined towards more daring options! If you have reasons to suspect that your child may be indulging in improper activities like smoking or taking drugs, please seek professional help for your child immediately!

So Why Do Teenagers Do It?

The question remains. Why do teenagers do it? Is it from their kleptomania tendencies? Or are there underlying reasons that may influence 

Peer Pressure

One of the main causes that your child converts to a small-time offender, can be due to the influence of their clique. There is a certain invisible pressure that ‘forces’ teenagers to follow the group’s suggestions. 

In an effort to gain acceptance or fit in with their peers, some adolescents succumb to engaging in petty crimes as a means of proving themselves or maintaining social status within their peer groups.

Influence of Popular Media

But hey, that is not to say that these teenagers are all bad. 

These kids can also be influenced by viral TikToks and trends like ‘risk-taking challenges’ or ‘normalising criminal behaviour’. This can rewire the brain to make several leaps of logic, causing them to make one-time decisions that they will regret. 

Remember that one case where two kids who were both under 16, participated in vandalism of property. What did they steal? Well, …the MRT’s signage. When investigated further, it was revealed that the boys had been influenced by a TikTok trend known as “Diabolical Licks” or “Dastardly Licks.”

Seeking Thrills for Stress Relief


Like a dog chasing cars, some teenagers may have initiated the act out of that sense of thrill. It’s their form of ‘self-expression’.

The adrenaline rush associated with minor acts of rebellion, often ‘substitutes’ for stress relief can be alluring to adolescents seeking stimulation and a break from routine.

Lack of Consequences

Some teenagers may underestimate the potential consequences of their actions and perceive themselves as invincible. This mindset, coupled with a lack of consideration for the impact of their behaviors, can lead to a disregard for rules and norms, making petty crimes seem inconsequential or unlikely to result in negative outcomes.

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Simply put, they play with fire because they don’t think they’ll be caught. And even if they’re caught, nothing big will happen to them!

What Happens Next? 

When they’re caught once, and they’re regretful of their actions, you may let it slide this time. But if your child continues their misdemeanors, then you have a problem on your hands! 

It’s important to address these quickly, as what can seem small, will snowball into bad habits and unhealthy mindsets growing up.

Dealing With Addiction to Shoplifting


First, you’ll have to make them recognise and admit that they have an addiction! This is not to shame them. Instead, it’s to allow them to have a voice in seeking help.

Once through with the first step, have your teenager point out the reason why they want to shoplift. Is it from actual shortage or for the thrill that they’re stealing essentials like food and lifestyle items? If there’s plenty at home, then the latter is most likely true.

In which case, you’ll have to suggest them to find some hobbies. The best way to beat addiction is to break them out of that cycle of doing it. Hobbies are great distractions and healthy replacements. They will fill the holes that the addiction has created.

Join a team, do some sports, get a bike, start running or go to the gym. When you get your body working, you put less thoughts into things that don’t matter.

Dealing With Overindulgence in Alcohol


In Singapore, the minimum drinking age is 18. For good reason. When teenagers drink alcohol, they run the risk of brain and other alcohol-related problems at a young age.

It’s best not to give alcohol content to teenagers at all. But since we’re on the topic of prevention and recuperation, let’s see how to deal with a case of underaged drinking. 

Instead of handling it alone, consider involving a qualified counselor, therapist, or healthcare professional who specializes in adolescent substance abuse. Professional guidance can offer valuable insights and support in addressing the underlying factors contributing to underaged drinking and formulating a tailored plan for recovery and prevention.


In the long term, you will also need to monitor your child. Maintain ongoing support and monitoring to ensure the teenager’s well-being and progress. 

Encourage regular check-ins and provide access to resources and support systems that promote a healthy and alcohol-free lifestyle. Well, that is until they’re of age, and knows better to control themselves around alcohol.

Rum Tan

Rum Tan is the founder of SmileTutor and he believes that every child deserves a smile. Motivated by this belief and passion, he works hard day & night with his team to maintain the most trustworthy source of home tutors in Singapore. In his free time, he writes articles hoping to educate, enlighten, and empower parents, students, and tutors. You may try out his free home tutoring services via or by calling 6266 4475 directly today.