siblings. Of those over 19, under a third remained with parents. Thirty-seven percent had moved on to live with partners (30% having children also) and most of the rest lived alone or with friends.
Although over three-quarters of the sample (76%) said that people at home knew about them taking cars, many added that the family knew only of the times when they had been caught and had no idea of ihe full extent of their involvement in car crime. Those who said that people at home did not know about them taking cars (19%) often mentioned being afraid of iheir parents finding out—several people said that they thought (heir parents would 'kill' them should they ever find out. More than ihree-quariers(7H%) of those whose families were ignorant of what was happening were from homes where no one else was said to be involved in car crime, and almost half (42%) were aged 15 io 16 years. Older offenders were more likely to have families who knew about their activities—presumably because their repealed offending inevitably came to light eventually.
Of those who said that people at home knew about their offending, 59 per cent said that they were angry and upset—and indeed for a few people getting into trouble at home had been enough to stop them taking cars (see Chapter 3). Of those whose families were very bothered something under half acknowledged that they were powerless to do much:
They didn't like it at all. They said there's nothing they could do but they stuck by me when 1 was doing it and going to court.
They used to nag me a bit till I was about 18, but now they know they can't stop me.
They hate it, they don't like it at all, they shout at me but they don't actually ground me—if you're going to ground someone you're just going to make them more angry inside.
If they start giving you a hard time for it, you just rebel and go out and do it more.
They'd turn round and say 'If you take another one we're going to tell the police'. They were trying to talk me out of it and get me to do other things but they obviously saw it wasn't going to stop me because I was getting a buzz out of nicking cars.
The ultimate sanction—that they had been kicked out of home—was reported by 12 per cent of the sample. Some said that their car crime activities had escalated after being excluded from the family home:
My mother kicked me out once and I went berserk—started pinching cars more and more.
My parents lost all respect for me. They told me they didn't want me at home any more. I was homeless on my 16th birthday. I can see they did it for my own good now.
Only 11 per cent of the sample said that people at home were not or would not be bothered about them taking cars. Some of these were simply told to take responsibility for themselves:
They don't react any more because they say 'it's your life, do what you want with it'. 1 think that's fair enough because it stops them worrying.
My old man said 'At least you didn't get caught for it—I can't really give you a hard lime because I used to do it'.
In some of these cases, people at home had expressed ihe view that they did not waul lo know anything at all about the offending and merely advised offenders not to gel caughi and to be careful to avoid having an accident.
Family involvement in car crime
A third (33%) of the sample said that others in the family, usually a brother or cousin, also look cars or had done so in the past. One person said that he had been pressurised into stealing by his father who was an experienced car thief. Yet even those with others already involved in car crime said that their family was or would be angry and upset about their own involvement (34*1/0). Several older people said that if their own children started taking cars they would be very hard on them:
I'd give him hell. My advice would be 'Touch a car—steal another car and I'll break your arm'. Maybe that's a bit rough but it's fun to steal a car if you're that age and be able to drive around with your mates . . . I would stamp on it if it was my son, because I've actually been there, I know what it's like.
In summary, then, two-thirds of the sample were living with one or two parents when interviewed. In three-quarters of cases, people at home knew about their involvement in car crime, and one in three interviewees had other family members involved in similar offences. Family members were less likely to know what was going on when the family was criminally uninvolved, or when offenders were relatively young. When families did know, most felt angry, upset or unhappy about it. Relatively few (12%) excluded the offender from home. There was little evidence that families were indifferent to the offending or uninterested in stopping it. However, if the offender chose to ignore the family view it appears that there was little that parents felt able to do about it. Some families clearly felt their hands were tied by their responsibilities as primary carers and protectors—responsibilities which might be seen at odds with throwing the offender out of the home, bringing in the police, or instituting cace proceedings.
School and worh AJthough no questions were asked specifically about experiences at school, several people said they regularly took time off school in order to take and drive cars: