12 Weirdest Things Thieves Might Try to Steal from You
Sure, you expect thieves to target your cash, jewelry, and electronics. But you'll be shocked by these odd things they also love to swipe.
Believe it or not, your laundry room could be a robbery hot spot. Thieves typically target expensive items, and relatively pricey everyday household items are no exception. Laundry detergent, especially the Tide brand, is a popular item for thieves to steal. In fact, experts say that Tide is considered currency on the black market. It’s often either traded for drugs or sold way below retail prices at swap meets and secret meetings. Another bonus for burglars: It’s hard to track detergent due to the lack of serial numbers on the packaging. These are the hiding spots that burglars always check first.
In 2017, there were an estimated 1,401,840 burglaries, according to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting program. Victims of those burglary offenses suffered an estimated $3.4 billion in property losses. An unexpected item that was likely among those hauls: pregnancy tests. They’re popular with burglars who hit both homes and stores because they’re relatively expensive, small in size, and only used once.
Have you ordered avocado toast recently? It’s expensive because avocados are expensive. That’s why they’re a hot commodity among thieves. According to Vice, New Zealand experienced a wave of avocado crimes in 2016. Robbers targeted orchards around the country, and up to 350 avocados were stolen per hit. When it comes to smaller thefts, avocados are also attractive because they’re in high demand—and easy to swipe. Here are other sought-after items on every burglar’s list.
Flowers are power! Potted plants and floral arrangements can be incredibly appealing to burglars. According to the Crime Prevention Website, the most commonly stolen property comes from gardens located in front of houses. Thieves can easily lift and carry off portable plants and flowers, and they can get a bundle for their haul—especially when it includes rare species of cacti and orchids. To protect your favorite portable plants, you might want to take them inside at night. You should also try these 9 tricks to outsmart criminals.
Your medicine cabinet is one of the first places that a burglar will look. Most robbers don’t even read the labels; they’ll just take everything in the hopes of selling it. Allergy medicines are a popular choice in organized retail crime, according to the National Retail Federation, since the demand is high. After all, many people have some form of allergies—and are also looking for a deal.
Bras and panties
Ladies, listen up: Thieves are on the prowl for your unmentionables. Whether undergarments are being stolen from your home or a store, they are coveted items—especially if they’re designer. In 2018, two women were arrested and charged after they tried to steal $11,000 worth of bras from a Victoria’s Secret store in California. And in 2019, a man stole a number of pricey bras from someone’s home during an open-house showing in California. These are some other sneaky ways that burglars steal your stuff.
Good, old toilet paper is a bizarre item that’s often taken by thieves. After all, everyone uses it, so the demand is always there. When these stories make headlines, though, people tend to giggle because the theft seems so strange. Here are a few recent examples: A man in West Virginia was charged for stealing three rolls of toilet paper from his neighbor while he was away, and a New York public-transportation employee stole bagfuls of toilet paper and other taxpayer-funded workplace items. And this type of theft isn’t limited to people you’d classify as criminals: Thrillist notes that toilet paper is also a common item taken by broke college students.
Virginia Hamill, a senior insurance analyst at Fit Small Business, knew exactly what to say when Reader’s Digest asked her what the oddest thing thieves commonly steal was. “Any item containing base metals,” She said. “Copper wiring, catalytic converts, and manhole covers are all items thieves take in order to sell to recyclers.” There’s no way to hide your electricity system from thieves, so you’d better protect yourself by learning these 8 ways to make it look like you’re home—and fool burglars.
Having your things, particularly family heirlooms and special mementos, stolen can feel incredibly violating and can cause severe psychological damage, but having your family pet stolen takes things to another level. Patricia Vercillo, vice president of operations at The Smith Investigation Agency and Smith Training Centre, admits it happens fairly often. “I’ve heard of break-ins at family homes where a pet goes missing. How or why a person can be so cruel, I’ll never understand,” Vercillo said. “We also were given a case where a person’s outdoor cat was stolen and then posted on Kijiji for sale. Luckily, the owner saw the ad and got in front of this as soon as possible.”
You heard us. Rocks. “In another case of mine, an owner of hundreds of acres of land off by the lake noticed that these huge rocks were being stolen,” Vercillo told Reader’s Digest. “This required experts and heavy machinery, but guess what, these thieves got the job done. Why steal someone’s rocks you might ask? Well, as it turns out, these rocks were worth thousands of dollars. Believe it or not, it was most likely an easy take once the pros were involved seeing as there was no surveillance equipment set up surrounding the property.” Those rocks may have been worth thousands, but they don’t come close to the most expensive items that have ever been stolen.
When the homeowner’s away, the thieves will play. Home burglaries increase during the summer months since people tend to travel more. Fun recreational items like small boats are valuable and also easy to steal. Since they’re often kept on trailers, they’re easy to spot—and easy to attach to vehicles before making a fast getaway. In 2018, the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) reported 4,499 watercraft thefts. On the plus side, the NICB says that number is down from previous years, including down 8 percent from 2017.
Thieves don’t typically target homes based on the liquor that can be found inside, but they won’t turn down a good bottle if they see one, according to GetSafe.com. Expensive liquor can be sold for a big profit, or it can be given to someone as a gift. So if you have a valuable bottle of wine, champagne, or liquor, lock it up. Where should you keep other expensive items? Here are 20 genius secret hiding places for your valuables.