Gift of stolen property?

About six months ago, my son was moving out of my home, cleaning out his closet, and had a pile of clothes to give away. He gets most of his clothing from second hand stores. I saw a coat I liked in the pile, tried it on, and it fit great, so he gave it to me as a gift. I wore it proudly, assuming he had bought it second hand. Yesterday, right before I left for Confession, he told me that he had stolen the coat after a man left it behind at a party. This was sometime ago, and he assured me the man has a new coat now. I confessed it as a sin, even though I didn’t know if it was or not (still in shock), and told the priest I did not know what to do, but he did not say anything. Should I get rid of the coat? Is it a sin to keep it or am I being scrupulous?

I don’t see how you could have sinned, since you did not know the coat was stolen.

However, I have an idea. If you are unable to return the coat to its proper owner, why don’t you give it away to a charity? Even though you are not the one who committed the wrong here, you can do this in order to help put things right. I’m sure you do not want to benefit from a sin, even if it wasn’t your own.

To be honest, I would have a hard time wearing the coat or even keeping it after I had learned my son had stolen it. If that’s being scrupulous, so be it.

Thank you for your replies.

I have decided to donate the coat to the Catholic second hand store here. It is true, I would never feel right wearing it again.


I think you did the right thing; I’d feel the same way about keeping an item after I learned it was stolen.

For whatever help it may be, you should also tell your son you have given it to charity and why. It may be only a small act now, but something that may mean more to him eventually.

My son opened a chat with me recently and he brought up the coat and indicated he had not told me the whole truth about it. It seems the man had abandoned it at his ex-girlfriend’s home and she entrusted my son to get the coat back to him on the longshot that my son would be more likely to run into him in his circle of friends. After nine months of not seeing the coat’s owner he decided to dispose of it, and that was how it came to be in my hands. He said he would hate to know that something he really liked was stolen, and so he wanted me to know that the coat was not stolen, so that I would continue to wear it, and that the man would be happy to know that I had it.

After these revelations I have decided to keep it for a time until I can discuss it with him personally. If I got rid of it now, I think I would hurt his feelings.

Just wanted to clear the air on this.

Thanks for the support, everyone.

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