Having your belongings stolen leads to a feeling of vulnerability and violation. These items have memories. Perhaps you spent hard-earned money on them, or they were gifted to you as a child and have spent more time in your possession than anywhere else. And now they’re in the hands of someone who just sees your items as a pile of cash.
You should definitely file a police report when your items are stolen, but there are a few other things you can do to speed along the process of getting your things back.
Write down serial numbers.
When you bring any expensive item home, like a television, video game console or set of speakers, write down the serial model numbers. These will help the police identify your stolen items later, if it turns out the thief is selling them on Craigslist or the black market.
Mark your property.
If something is really important to you, mark it. You can carve your name, very small, into the bottom of a piece of furniture, or write it with permanent pen on an electronic. This way, if the police do recover it, they can prove it’s yours. Or, if that’s not subtle enough, come up with a sign only you’ll know – a cross, a circle, or some other shape – that you can mark on your items a little more inconspicuously.
Check eBay, Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace and other online market places for your items. If you find them being sold online, don’t go to the vendor by yourself—this is a criminal and you shouldn’t meet him alone. Call the police and notify them of the ad you found. This is another time you’ll be glad you wrote down information like the make and model of your equipment. Many people don’t even know that much information about their electronics, and don’t look up things like serial numbers until it’s too late.
Check pawn shops.
Thieves often sell their stolen items to pawn shops. This is why it’s very important to have marked your items and filed a police report. Pawn shop owners pay for their merchandise, and aren’t going to hand it over easily because you claim it’s stolen. If you have marked the items and can show there is a police report out for them, the pawn shop owner has to turn them over.
Get the insurance.
Look around your home and ask yourself if there is anything you’re not willing to lose. Perhaps there is some old family jewelry, a laptop or a piece of art you’d be devastated to be without. Get those items insured. If you can honestly say that having those items stolen would disrupt your life or leave you emotionally damaged, then paying for the insurance is worth it.
Turn on your surveillance cameras.
Your surveillance cameras can be invaluable when it comes to retrieving your stolen items. Even if the robbers wore masks, the cameras can at least catch information like their build, possible age range and ethnicity. It may even catch the make and model of their vehicle. If your cameras have audio, it could catch them talking and help police identify their voice. Your cameras might even reveal the thieves took something you don’t yet realize is missing.
Check local papers.
Check to see if there have been other robberies in your area. Having information from your security cameras will come in handy here. If your cameras caught there were four individuals of a certain age group working together, and another criminal report also featured four individuals of that age group, you can be closer to relocating your items.
Don’t lose all hope after a burglary. If you take certain precautions now, retrieving your items may be a real possibility.