The 10 Weirdest Things Thieves Steal

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by Richland123, Feb 28, 2014.

  1. Richland123


    Apr 17, 2009
    The 10 Weirdest Things Thieves Steal

    By Thomas C. Frohlich February 4, 2014

    1. Laundry detergent

    Procter & Gamble and Arm & Hammer are not the only ones to discover the value in laundry detergent. Thieves have too. This relatively expensive everyday household product is found in nearly every home, which can partly explain its appeal as a stolen good. Consistent demand makes a product much easier to sell. In particular, Tide — a recognized, easy to spot brand — is traded on a regular basis for drugs, other illicit items, and sometimes right back to stores looking for better profit margins. Additionally, the lack of serial numbers on the packaging makes detergents very difficult to track.

    2. Allergy medicine

    Among organized retail crime gangs allergy medicines in particular have become quite popular, according to a 2013 crime survey conducted by the NRF. Part of the value of allergy medications may be the consistently high demand for the product, as many people suffer from allergies. According to Rich Muller at the NRF, however, people are often more willing to suffer through allergy symptoms than buy antihistamines. As a result, a cheaper, boosted product has more success among consumers. While recreational use of antihistamines could be another explanation, stolen allergy medicines are re-sold primarily for intended use.

    3. Pregnancy tests

    Pregnancy tests were among the most shoplifted items last year, according to the NRF. Younger thieves may lift pregnancy tests to avoid embarrassment. According to the NRF, however, the tests are targeted by organized crime groups for their resale value. Like detergent, demand for this product is so consistent that they can be sold for near-retail prices.

    4. Catalytic converters

    Among the base metals popular at scrap yards are platinum, rhodium and palladium, all of which can be components in catalytic converters. The price of these metals has risen considerably in recent years, which may partly explain the rise in catalytic converter theft. Platinum prices, for example, have risen substantially, from around $1,000 per ounce five years ago to just under $1,400 per ounce this month. Catalytic converter theft has become so widespread in places like California, that the state passed laws that mandate documentation of the car part’s sales. According to Frank Scafidi of the NICB, however, there is only so much legislation can do without proper enforcement. Recyclers can easily recognize when they are dealing with criminals, but have little incentive to turn them away.

    5. Manhole covers

    Weighing more than 300 pounds in some cases, and typically located on lit and visible streets, manhole covers do not seem like a worthwhile steal at first. But in the last few years, as base metal prices have risen, so have thefts of manhole covers. Thieves have been known to disguise themselves as construction workers and make off with the large discs single-handedly. In countries such as Colombia, where stealing manhole covers has become quite common, thieves have customized trucks with holes in the floors to steal the covers more discreetly. In addition to the costs incurred by utilities and municipalities from these thefts, missing manhole covers cause considerable danger to the public. Relatively high prices for base metals such as iron have encouraged thieves to commit a variety of other unusual crimes, including the theft of fire hydrant caps, gravesite vases, and stadium bleachers, likely to be sold for scrap. Manhole covers are typically made of iron, while many other valued items contain copper, also coveted among thieves, as its price has roughly doubled since 2009. The metal is essential in plumbing, electrical systems, and fiber optics.

    6. Nutella

    Stolen Nutella has been reported over the world. In Germany, around 11,000 pounds of Nutella, a popular hazelnut spread, valued roughly at $20,000, was lifted from a parked cargo truck last year. Around the same time, a Nutella-related crisis emerged at Columbia University. After students successfully petitioned to have Nutella offered in the cafeteria, they proceeded to steal it at unsustainable rates — about 100 pounds a day. As a result, the school incurred unexpected expenses. Nutella theft is likely the result of its high cost combined with high demand.

    7. Sap

    Producing maple syrup is a labor intensive process. About 40 gallons of sap are required to produce one gallon of syrup, which sells for many times the equivalent amount of oil. Harvesting sap, which depends on a pattern of cooling and thawing, has become more challenging with the unusual weather conditions in recent years. In 2012, there was a large-scale heist in Quebec, which produces much of the world’s maple syrup. Thieves stole millions of dollars worth of syrup from a Canadian warehouse, leading to more than a dozen arrests.

    8. Shrubbery

    House and porch plants are not typically thought of as valuable and worthwhile targets of theft. Potted plants and small landscape features, however, can be vulnerable to thieves. In recent years, there have been numerous cases of shrubbery theft where potted plants went missing and ordinary lawns were left damaged. These petty thefts may not be part of organized crime operations, but plant values can reach extreme highs. According to The Guardian, there is a legal ornamental plant market worth billions of dollars, and the high demand among collectors attracts illicit activity. The most coveted plants are species of rare orchid and cacti. Some plants traded on the black market are of endangered species and can be hundreds of years old. Cycads can be worth more than a $1,000 per specimen and are frequently stolen around the world.

    9. Small boats

    During the summer months, when boats are parked on the water or in backyards, it is common for thieves to break in and lift fishing equipment, electronics, and other accessories from the boat. Although it seems the boat itself would be safe, small privately owned boats are surprisingly susceptible to theft, particularly due to their size. Many are stored on trailers, ready to be hitched and driven to the lake and making it surprisingly easy for thieves to make off with them. According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, there were more than 1,400 boat thefts in Florida in 2012, more than in any other state, and more than 5,800 such thefts nationwide. That year, jet skis were particularly popular among thieves.

    10. Steak

    Several years of drought in the U.S. have hampered food production across the board, lowering farm yield from corn and cattle. With lower supplies, in addition to rising demand for beef overseas, the value of the meat has risen considerably. Steak, one of the more coveted and expensive cuts of beef has also become more popular as the economy has recovered. When prices go up, thieves m make a profit from stolen goods, and steak is no exception. But theft is increasing at every stage of the production process. According to an NPR newscast last year, cattle theft increased dramatically from the year before, with more than 10,000 cows or horses going missing in 2013.
  2. Ironbar


    Aug 24, 2013
    Portland, Oregon
    There was guy here in Oregon that was convicted of stealing women's panties from their homes. Creepy S.O.B. for sure.
  3. Gopherbassist


    Jan 19, 2008
    About 10 years ago the price of avocado shot up, so people started stealing them. California made it a felony to steal avocados.
  4. PWRL


    Sep 15, 2006
    Interesting to note that cattle rustling is on the rise again.

    Git a rope.
  5. Mike N

    Mike N Missing the old TB Supporting Member

    Jan 28, 2001
    Spencerport, New York
    None of the scrap metal yards around here will take manhole covers, which makes them pointless to steal. Converters and copper, otoh, pay big $ at the right yards. I've found the yards in the 'hood pay little for copper and converters, but the ones out in the 'burbs pay very well for them.
  6. slobake

    slobake resident ... something Supporting Member

    I woke up one morning and noticed something wasn't right with my Toyota longbed truck. Then it hit me. Someone stole the campershell right off of my truck while it was parked in front of my house. :eek:
  7. Gaolee

    Gaolee It's all about the polyester

    My wife's Honda Civic has been stolen once, but we got it back along with some really big shoes and a couple business cards for the same guy. The police weren't very interested in calling the guy whose cards they were.

    Another time, they just stole the computer brain out of it. We couldn't figure out why it wouldn't start. Nobody else could, until they looked for the CPU. It wasn't there any more. Somebody had been going around stealing those for a couple days, so there weren't any to be had for another couple days. Pretty strange. They also took her first aid kit. I guess you need one of those if you are a thief.
  8. Uncle K

    Uncle K The custodian is your enemy Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2011
    Erie, PA
    Many years ago my brother's car was stolen and my cell phone was in it. Cell phones were still kind of new then and the bill listed every number that was called. When I got the bill it had a bunch of numbers that were called in the 12 hours it took to have the phone deactivated. I brought the bill to the police and they wouldn't even look at it.
  9. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    Tailgate was stolen off my Chevy pickup in Texas..turns out to be a common theft. I put a hasp and padlock on the replacement.
  10. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    They stole the turn signals out of my Prelude. I was driving around without front turn signals for who knows how long before I finally noticed something funny about the bumper.
  11. The factory AM/FM radio from my dad's Ford Escort!

    It happened a long time ago, and the car was only 5 years old or so... But what is the street value of an OEM radio (no cassette, no cd) from a crappy econobox? How much crack cocaine is that gonna getcha? Someone smashed the window and destroyed the dashboard for lousy factory radio.
  12. lowfreq33


    Jan 27, 2010
    Endorsing Artist: Genz Benz Amplification
    I had my window smashed once for about a dollar's worth of changes out of my cup holder.

    I had a rehearsal room broken into once. Easily $20,000 worth of gear in there, as two bands shared the place, so there were two of everything, including two complete PA systems. Only thing they took was a $150 CD burner.
  13. Mysterion


    Jan 10, 2012
    Back in the 70s-90s, DC had a thriving black-market in auto inspection stickers. After my car's window was busted out, I didn't find anything missing other than some change from the ashtray. The next day, after getting a hefty ticket, I realized the inspection sticker had been removed from the windshield.

    If memory serves, the ticket was a lot more costly than the trip to the junkyard to replace the window...
  14. Remember the Hibachi? A small little table-top charcoal grill, cost was about $15 new at the time.

    Many years ago, I had an old rusty one, full of wet ashes; I moved it into the sun on my apartment porch where I lived at the time so it could dry out a little while I walked to the store to get a steak and charcoal. I came back fifteen minutes later...and somebody had stolen it! A rusty Hibachi full of wet ashes???
  15. 1958Bassman


    Oct 20, 2007
    One Summer morning, before we started to lock our garage in the late '60s, I went to the garage to take my bike out. It was parked at the side in front of my brothers' bike and as I walked past his, I noticed that the front wheel was rusty and crappy-looking. I went back into the house and asked about what had happened to it and we all went out to look at it. Turns out, someone had entered the garage and swapped their crappy wheel for a clean one. Our bikes were usually spotless, unless we hadn't taken the time to clean them, so it was very easy to notice.
  16. Milk


    Sep 16, 2013
    Montreal, Canada

    (i'm a hypocrite, many years ago i stole maple syrup from shops once or twice because, who can afford it? I'm not proud but i did it...IT IS MY BIRTHRIGHT!)
  17. My 2nd ex-wife's Toyota once got broken into while she was at work. They didn't take the stereo. They didn't take her crappy George Strait CDs. They didn't take the ten bucks in change she kept in a coin purse in the glove box.

    But they took the tampon stash that was next to the coin purse. Those pesky cycles can wreak havoc on a woman's sensibilities!
  18. Back in the day before I escaped the construction industry somebody stole a pile of gravel off a job site one night.

    At the time they could have driven their pickup truck into the local quarry and filled it up for ~$5 or so.

    Must have taken them a couple of hours to shovel it...
  19. edpal

    edpal Banned

    Oct 3, 2007
    Seems like once a year I see someone stealing steak in a store by lifting their shirt and sliding it in the pants. That and magazines.

    The shrubbery theft is common shrubs kept getting stolen from around my brother's office until we ran criss-crossing "Razor-ribbon" around all the plants and spiked it to the ground.

    One neighborhood I lived years ago... somebody kept going into my car ashtray and stealing anything smokable. :ninja:
  20. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    Saffron is often kept with the behind-the-glass items instead of in the spice isle because it's so expensive per ounce that it often gets stolen.