Most Commonly Stolen Items in Tennessee
Do you regularly leave your iPad on the coffee table? Is your expensive jewelry strewn across the bedroom vanity? These and other habits may be luring home burglars to your doorstep with the convenience of an easy theft. From Hendersonville to Murfreesboro, authorities are ramping up campaigns to inform residents about the trend of rising home burglaries in Tennessee.
Identifying the Thieves
The online convenience of websites such as Craigslist and eBay is making it easy for thieves to resell stolen goods. This online anonymity is bolstering thieves, thus increasing the occurrences of break-ins and property theft across the nation. In many cases, break-ins have been linked to full-scale theft operations, pointing toward a trend of organized crime rather than sporadic incidents of individual thieves.
In North Carolina, authorities recently busted a $1 million theft ring with property ties to Tennessee and several other states. In Murfreesboro, authorities discovered more than $250,000 worth of property stolen from six Tennessee counties and Kentucky by yet another theft ring. In 2011, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Crime Statistics Unit reported that burglaries were the most common crimes against properties in the state. Memphis now ranks fifth in the nation for the most burglaries per capita, leaving residents wondering how to protect their belongings.
Tracking Stolen Items
While most home burglaries are crimes of convenience, thieves linked to organized operations are now entering homes knowing which items to nab—the ones that will either sell quickly online or will bring high returns.
In the Murfreesboro bust, the most common items recovered by authorities included flat-screen TVs, gaming systems (such as Wiis and Play Stations), guns, GPS systems and jewelry. Antiques remain hot ticket items in many home thefts, often bringing thieves high returns. Thefts of high-tech items such as iPads and iPhones are also common. In Manchester, an 8-year-old boy used an iPad tracking app that led authorities to recover the boy’s stolen iPad and dozens of similar items from the thief’s hotel room.
So, with organized theft on the rise, how do you avoid being the next victim?
• Make stealing your belongings as difficult as possible by investing in a safe or lockbox.
• If you are leaving for a trip, keep the travel dates private rather than broadcasting the vacation over social media networks. Before leaving for vacation, draw the blinds and curtains to prevent burglars from getting a sneak peak of the house’s goods.
• Get a step ahead of burglars by marking your valuables with serial numbers. Several local police precincts have developed operation identification programs that involve marking property with identifying numbers. These numbers alert would-be thieves that a household’s property has been cataloged and, if marked stolen, the ID numbers allow police to reunite that property with its original owner.
• The most effective method of home theft prevention remains installing a security system. Even a basic home security system is often enough to deter would-be burglars. With sites such as ProtectYourHome.com, finding the right security system for your needs is easier than ever. With 51 percent of burglaries in Tennessee now involving a handgun, a home security system could save more than your property.
Burglary will always be an issue in Tennessee and elsewhere. However, there are steps you can take to help avoid becoming the next victim. Do what you can to safeguard your home and beat burglars at their own game.