10 Must-Have Items on Every Burglar’s Wish List

Written by | Updated September 13, 2013

Burglars are usually in and out of your home in under 15 minutes, so when they pilfer your belongings, they know exactly what they’re looking for.

When trying to stymie a potential thief it helps to look at your home and belongings through their nefarious eyes. Here are the top 10 things a burglar hopes to find when rifling through your home.

1. Cash

It’s no surprise that the number one thing a thief hopes to find is a stash of cash. It’s untraceable, doesn’t need to be sold and can fit right in the bad guy’s pocket. And if you think you can outwit a prowler by hiding your cash in a safe or lock box, you’ll be unhappy to learn that those are often the first places a thief will look.

In fact, if your safe is small, they might just haul off the entire thing. The safest place for your cash is in the bank; don’t leave it lying around your home. Be sure to check old wallets or last season’s purse for cash you might have left in them.


2. Prescription Drugs

Recently, prescription drugs have become pretty valuable on the streets. Even if the prowler who ransacks your home doesn’t want the drugs for personal use, they can easily sell them and turn a tidy profit. The best way to keep a burglar from getting their hands on your prescriptions is to make sure that you dispose of all leftover and expired medications.

3. Jewelry

Jewelry is easy to remove from your home and one of the most sought-after items on a burglar’s hit list. With all the shops currently buying gold, silver and precious stones, it’s never been easier for a thief to turn your family heirlooms into cash. Hiding jewelry in the back of drawers or in other items like socks or gloves may seem like a good idea but plenty of burglars know that trick and head straight for the backs of drawers hoping to find Grandma’s engagement ring.

If you have highly valuable jewelry that you don’t wear regularly, it might be wise to keep it in a safe deposit box at your bank. You could get a box for as little as $10 per year.

jewelry box

3. Electronics

Even though TVs and gaming consoles are more conspicuous than cash and jewelry, they are still top targets for robbers. One thing that makes your high-end electronics vulnerable is that they’re right out in the open. There’s no reason to rifle through drawers or have to break into a safe to find your 50” flat screen. The best thing you can do to thwart a burglar when it comes to electronics is to record the serial numbers so you have them, just in case. Without that information, less than five percent of stolen electronics are ever recovered.

5. Computers, iPads and Smartphones

Just like your TV, these are items that you usually leave in plain sight. They are also fairly easy to remove from your home and can be sold quickly. The extra danger posed with the theft of these types of items is that phones and computers usually contain a lot of personal information. Make sure you never store sensitive information on your PC or mobile device. Keep tax and pay records on an external hard drive that you store in your safety deposit box or other secure place.


6. Firearms

Chances are, if you have guns in your house, burglars are going to make a beeline to grab them. Firearms are one of the easiest commodities to sell on the street and they pull in a pretty hefty price tag. Gun safes and locked gun cabinets aren’t foolproof but the more tinkering a thief has to do to reach the goods, the better chance you have of keeping your firearms safe. The silver lining, however, is that because most guns are registered, there is a higher likelihood of recovering a stolen gun.

7. Tools

Power tools and other building supplies are highly desired by thieves because they are fairly simple to get rid of and can bring in a tidy sum of cash. A locked tool cabinet might be a deterrent, especially if it takes time to break into.

8. Household Goods

Decorative items, art, clothing or even cleaning and cooking items are easy to take and transport. Even though they don’t fetch a high price, these types of items are always in demand and a burglar can usually turn a quick profit on them with minimal effort. It’s impossible to nail down every item in your home for fear of burglary, but you can keep an up-to-date household inventory that will help with an insurance claim if you do get robbed. It’s also a good idea to take picture of the items for reference when looking to replace them.


9. Liquor

Believe it or not, your liquor cabinet is at risk during a home invasion. While no burglar is going to get rich by stealing that bottle of French wine you were saving for a special occasion, they will probably enjoy drinking it. Even a locked liquor cabinet doesn’t make your precious scotch safe. If the bad guys weren’t afraid to break a window to get into your home, they’re not going to stop at smashing in some more glass to get a strong drink. If you collect expensive wines or other rare liquors, make sure to take precautions to keep those items out of easy sight and in a location more secure than a cabinet.

10. Your Identity

Probably the worst thing you can lose in a home robbery is sensitive information that allows a burglar to steal your identity. Credit and debit cards, old checks, tax returns, bills and even medical information can all be used to hijack your credit and bank account. Don’t leave items like these in unlocked drawers or easily identifiable filing cabinets. If a thief is out to take your identity, they know exactly what to look for. Shred sensitive documents and keep items like birth certificates and social security cards in a safety deposit box.

No one wants to lose any of their property to a burglar, so SafeWise recommends doing your part to ensure your home is protected. To find the system that is right for you, check out our security system finder tool.

Written by Rebecca Edwards

Rebecca has honed her safety and security skills as both a single mom and a college director. Being responsible for the well-being of others helped her learn how to minimize risk and create safe environments. Learn more

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  • myounger

    Have to point out one statement I think you got wrong. If you live in the US, the the following is not true: “The silver lining, however, is that because most guns are registered, there is a higher likelihood of recovering a stolen gun.”

    Guns may be traceable, but are never registered, as this would facilitate government tracking of a protected human right. They do have serial numbers, and you can record those and inform law enforcement.