Many homeowners pay extra attention to home security during and after the holiday season, but it’s important to safeguard your home against burglars year-round.
One of the easiest ways to prevent burglaries is by thinking like a criminal, anticipating which valuables in your home are most tempting and plan your home defenses accordingly. By taking a look at the most stolen items in home burglaries, you’ll have extra context for how to make your place less appealing to thieves.
What do burglars steal?
Cash, jewelry and other easy-to-carry items
This may seem obvious, but ideal items for a burglar to steal are those that are worth a lot of money and easy to put in a pocket. Burglars prefer to cash over any other item in the home because currency notes are extremely light, nearly impossible to trace and can be used immediately for goods and services. In 2017 (the most recent year complete data is available), the FBI estimates burglars stole over $1.36 billion in cash.
Jewelry and firearms — two other lightweight and valuable items — are also commonly stolen items. Like cash, jewelry is small and highly valuable, making it an easy target. However, unlike cash, making a profit from jewelry theft requires criminals to go through the extra steps of finding a pawn shop or locating a fence (aka middleman) to move the merchandise.
Firearms are also easy to lift from a household and conceal upon escape, and the demand for stolen guns on the black market is typically high. Regardless of the logistical differences, these items make up a broad section of the valuables of interest to criminals for their weight and high potential for resale.
Tips for concealing cash, jewelry and other small valuables:
- Store them in your kitchen or bathroom by using false containers as a decoy, such as an empty coffee can, cleaning product bottle, etc.
- Hide them wrapped in plastic and stored inside a house plant
- Conceal inside a fake wall outlet (just make sure it’s not in the way of any actual electrical wiring)
TVs, tablets, computers, stereos and other electronics
While not as easy to pocket as a pair of diamond earrings or a wad of cash, electronics are highly sought after by thieves. It’s easy for burglars to find tablets, game consoles, stereos and big screens in the home – consumers typically show off their best electronics in the living room and kitchen.
With more people working from home and a greater number of financial transactions being performed online, clever burglars know that the information inside laptops and computers is often more valuable than the hardware itself. If homeowners suffer a robbery that includes their personal computer, then they might suffer additional damages caused by identity theft down the road.
Tips for concealing TVs, tablets, computers and other tech:
- Hide small electronics inside pots and pans
- Purchase an entertainment center with a locking mechanism for an extra layer of security
- Get creative with camouflaging your tech, such as disguising your laptop as a book
Prescription drugs and OTC medication
Nearly half of Americans take a prescription medication regularly, which means there are millions of prescription drugs out there that could be targeted by burglars. Prescription drugs and even over-the-counter (OTC) medications such as Sudafed or Robitussin are common theft items because they have high street-market value. Burglars may also steal these items for personal use.
Keep in mind that burglars aren’t the only ones who may go through your medicine cabinet to find prescription drugs for personal use. Friends, family members or any house guest may search your home for drugs without your knowledge.
Tips for concealing prescription drugs and medications:
- Purchase a small drug safe that can be concealed in a drawer or cabinet
- Hide small bottles in decoy containers, such as an empty coffee can or cereal box
- Keep a running count of the number of pills in each bottle
How to stop burglars from targeting your home
Since the favorite prey of burglars ranges from medication to expensive necklaces, homeowners may need to take numerous precautions to safeguard their home. Thankfully, you can deter criminals and keep your electronics plugged into the wall by planning ahead.
Window sightlines, for example, are quite important. Peer into your home from the outside by looking through your windows. If you think a criminal would recognize your home as a sweet spread of valuables, then perhaps a bit of interior reorganization is in order. Install curtains on as many windows as possible, including the garage, to further reduce sightlines into your home.
Tips for protecting your home from thieves
- Do an exterior check for any weaknesses and make sure shrubs aren’t overgrown
- Store expensive outdoor items, such as cars, bikes or lawnmowers, in the garage
- Install motion sensor lighting around your home, including all entrances
- Keep all doors and windows locked at all times
- Use timers to create the appearance of being home, even when you’re not
- Don’t advertise when you won’t be home
Security cameras and a comprehensive security system are also effective tools for deterring and catching home burglars. By supplementing monitoring technology from your security company with robber deterrence strategies, you and your family can help reduce the risks of a break-in.
Originally published 01/16/15. Last updated 08/20/19.