The Most Sought-After Items on Every Burglar’s Hit List

Burglars can't wait to get their hands on these items.

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When you hear the word burglar, you’re probably already envisioning a masked man with a burlap sack full of jewels in hand. As it happens, this archetype arose because jewelry is extremely easy to “fence,” or resell illegally. Robert Siciliano, Security Awareness Expert and CEO of Safr.Me, tells us that it doesn’t even matter if your bling is authentic: “Burglars aren’t generally sifting through what’s real or fake until they get back to their evil lair,” he says. “They try to quickly get in and get out. But once they do, they can generally differentiate, and if they can’t, the pawnshop where they go can make the determination.”

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what do burglars want - amazon alexa
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Your AI Assistants

“Your electronics are another prime target,” says Christina Mullen, a home security expert for Vivint Source. “When it comes to electronics and appliances, the burglar is going to take the most accessible items. They do not want to spend more time trying to take an appliance that is mounted on the wall, hard to reach or hidden items.” Mullen says that burglars tend to like small yet expensive AI Assistants like Alexa-enabled devices and Google Homes.

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Maybe switching to credit or debit cards is the right idea—burglars love to sift through your drawers and purses for cold, hard cash. Unlike traceable debit and credit cards, once it’s gone, cash can’t be cancelled and will never be recovered. In addition, cash loss can be hard to prove to insurers, especially when excessive amounts are stolen.

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Prescription drugs

“The most popular items that burglars are looking to steal are typically cash, jewelry and electronics. However, more recently, prescription drugs have become valuable,” says Patricia Vercillo, Vice-President of Operations at The Smith Investigation Agency. “If not for personal use, the burglar won’t have a hard time selling them on the street, which can make for a dangerous situation.” She recommends that homeowners dispose of old leftover or expired medications so that they do not become a victim of this kind of theft.

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Unmounted TVs and other electronics

Your child’s new Switch? Your PS4? These cutting-edge gaming consoles are sleek, powerful, and most of all, extremely portable. These two items—which could fit cozily in a briefcase—are high-cost and low-density, making them the perfect steal for any burglar. Thieves also love to steal TVs, but only unmounted ones. “Remember, convenience is key,” says Mullen. “If your TV is mounted on the wall and bolted in, it’s no longer an easy target and is less likely to get stolen.”

Discover the sneaky ways burglars can break into your house.

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Power tools

Mullen notes that some of the least expected items might go missing in a robbery. “You wouldn’t expect the power tools in your shed to be a target, but they’re decently valued and easily re-sold… even kitchen appliances can fall victim to the burglar’s sweep of your house.” To prevent this theft, smart homeowners should check that they’ve locked their outdoor sheds and aren’t leaving their cars—which often contain garage door-opening remotes—unlocked overnight.

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Personal information

Your burglar might just be someone you know. “What they steal may have more to do with their disdain of the homeowners,” says Leonard Sipes, the former Director of Information Services for the National Crime Prevention Council. “I know of a case where a laptop was stolen just to pry into the lives of the occupant.” According to Sipes, the homeowner’s dogs were also present at the scene of the crime, but the thief simply fed the dogs that already recognized him.

Here’s expert advice on how to prevent identity theft.

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Your safe isn’t safe

Safes and strongboxes aren’t guaranteed to protect your valuables, especially if they’re light, small, or not installed in a wall. “Keep a small safe under your bed? They’ll probably check, and they just might carry the whole thing with them,” says Mullen. If you’re looking into buying a safe, remember that some new electronic safes can be hacked, and old-fashioned safes can be cracked open with enough force—finding a better hiding place might be the key.

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Scrap metal

According to Dr. Ben Stickle of Middle Tennessee State University, scrap metal is a valuable material to home intruders. Since metals such as copper are valuable and can be easily resold, Dr. Stickle says that scrap metal thieves target “air conditioners, hot water heaters, electrical cables, plumbing materials and more.” Burglars will target homes under construction, but they don’t always stop there. “Be careful who you let work on your home,” says Stickle. “many metal thieves had current or past experience as roofers, plumbers, electricians… and would often return after seeing items of metal that were valuable.”

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Kitchen appliances

Do you love your NutriBullet? Your electric mixer? Your Soda Stream? Well, so do thieves. These items can be re-sold and will easily fit into a duffel bag. “Even kitchen appliances can fall victim to the burglar’s sweep of your house,” says Mullen. Some thieves have even been known to steal refrigerators and stoves because of their expensive market prices, but it’s far harder to make a stealthy get-away with a stainless-steel fridge.

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Your old iPod

Nervous thieves aren’t picky, and whatever’s visible is fair game. “[Thieves] won’t spend their time looking for specific items that are in-vogue—you’d be surprised at some of the low-profile items that get stolen, like corded headphones or even an iPod,” Mullen says. Most thieves are just trying to be speedy, but we like to think that some are into vintage tech, or just forgot their earphones at home.

Next, find out how to outsmart a burglar.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published on Reader's Digest