02 November 2021
What Burglars Want Most From Your Home
Despite improvements in security technology, burglaries remain part of modern life. Here are the 5 most stolen items and some tips to help you protect yourself.
Statistically, burglaries in Australia are not common (2.4% of homes p.a.) but they are still an unfortunate part of modern life leading to the development of more secure locks, better alarms, video doorbells and other devices designed to keep criminals away.
Despite there being a significant improvement in security technology, the best ways to keep criminals at bay are still quite simple, locking windows and doors (unlocked doors and windows accounted for 70% of burglaries).
Though over time, some items have remained consistently in demand by thieves, others no longer make the list of the ‘burglars most wanted’. According to Dr Rick Brown, Deputy Director of the Australian Institute of Criminology, “there’s an acronym used within criminology – CRAVED, which stands for concealable, removable, available, valuable, enjoyable and disposable.”
Here is a list of the top 5 items burglars steal in order:
Cash is still the number one item burglars are looking for. Even though according to the ABS, Australians now only use cash for about 30% of our transactions, most of us still have it lying around in drawers, wallets or purses and burglars know this and where to look for it.
“The key thing that remains similar year to year,” explains Dr Brown, “is that it’s about stealing things that are ‘liquid’, meaning cash itself or things that can easily be turned into cash".
Again, even though we are using cash less and the amount of cash stolen is falling year-on-year, it will remain in the top position until we replace it as a payment method altogether.
A decade ago, DVD players were among the most stolen items, more recently burglars have been looking for mobile phones, tablets and of course laptops.
Given laptops or desktops are used by 91% of Australian connected households, and that most homes have more than one computer, laptops are everywhere. They’re lightweight, valuable and fairly easily turned into cash - a very stealable item indeed.
In the past, such items would be sold at pawn shops or off the back of a truck but these days, the market is larger online.
“Some electrical items now tend to be lower down the list,” says Dr Brown, “either because they’re increasingly getting too large to steal – as in the case of televisions – or the price of them has come down so much that they tend to be less favoured".
Again, portable, valuable and easy to steal, jewellery is a great option for a thief looking to quickly turn a haul into cash.
Given the big increase in the price of gold in recent years many stores have opened looking to buy old gold jewellery. Opportunities to offload the precious metal are plentiful.
Extra precautions you can take to keep jewellery more secure is to put it in a safe. Failing that, you could at the least find a hiding place that burglars are less likely to find - burglars try to avoid being in a home for any longer than necessary. If they can’t find what they’re looking for, they’ll usually take what is obvious and move on.
In the past, high end cameras have been a preferred target thanks to expensive lenses and accessories. Online marketplaces have made turning cameras into cash easier than ever before.
The evolution of the photographic capability of mobile phones, may perhaps ultimately lead to a decline in ownership of high end cameras making them less stolen, but that will only increase the popularity amongst burglars for our next item...
In 2001, mobile phones were ranked the seventh most popular target for burglars in NSW. By 2010, they’d moved into fourth place, and in 2020 they’d jumped to 5th.
Given that some new mobile phone prices are approaching $2000, we can expect the trend of desirability for thieves to keep increasing.
Again, phones are small, easy to carry off and easy to convert to cash.
The pain of having your phone stolen is perhaps greater than most other items given you don’t just lose an expensive item; you lose your contacts, your photos and you also put yourself at risk for identity theft.
As with all items on the list, don’t leave your phone lying around in sight of burglars looking through windows. But if your phone is taken, having a 'find my phone' app activated might help you track down the thief via GPS.
Sadly, no-one is immune from burglaries, but a bit of prevention goes a long way. “My number one tip would be to make sure doors and windows are secure,” Dr Brown says, “this prevents those walk-in burglaries, which account for a significant proportion of burglary offences".
No matter whether you’re in SA, WA or elsewhere in Australia, you can also get some peace of mind by adequately insuring your home contents, so that if you are hit by a burglar you can replace your valuables.