How to Know if You’ve Been Robbed

You come home from a relaxing night out at the movies. You flick on the lights, kick off your shoes, and head to the fridge to grab an ice cold beer. “Huh, that’s weird,” you think to yourself as you look around the fridge. “I could have sworn I had a full six-pack of Special Export. Oh well!” You go to sit down on the couch and reach for the remote, but it too is missing. “That’s strange, I always keep the remote right here on the… coffee table. Where is my table?” You walk up to the TV to turn it on without a remote, and that’s when it really hits you. “That’s super odd. The TV is usually mounted right here to the wall. Where the heck did I put it?” you ask. Yep, you guessed it. You’ve just been robbed.

Missing things like cars, furniture, electronics, pets, jewelry, guns, collectibles, cash, and in rare instances, the entire house, are pretty good indicators that you’ve fallen victim to a robbery. It is, of course, not the only possibility. There’s a good chance you misplaced an earring, or your phone dropped out of your pocket on the bus. But most of the time, when anything of monetary value is missing, it was very likely stolen by a fearless cat burglar.

So, how do you know whether or not your missing property was stolen or was just misplaced? Many factors come into play.

If you’re missing something that’s normally stationary, like a treadmill, large-screen TV, or china cabinet, we can safely assume it was stolen. The same could be safely assumed for items that aren’t stationary, but are hidden, locked away, or are rarely used, such as a necklace, gun, or baseball card. If you have a security camera, now is a good time to look at the archival footage and see who robbed you. If you don’t have any type of home security system, call the police and open an investigation.

If your missing object is something that conceivably could have been misplaced, like a coat, watch, or spatula, you are going to need to do a little more investigating.

  • Does it appear someone entered the home? Are doors or windows opened, unlocked, or broken?
  • Does it appear someone rifled through drawers, cabinets, closets, and cupboards?
  • Is there someone presently in your home who you don’t recognize? If so, that could be a robber. It sounds ridiculous, but it happens about as often than you think, which is extremely rarely.
  • What else is missing? If you’re only missing a hammer, there’s a good chance robbery isn’t to blame. If you’re missing a hammer, iron, and trumpet, robbery suddenly becomes much more likely.
  • What isn’t missing? If your hammer, iron, and trumpet are gone, but a big stack of cash on the table remains, your robbery theory suddenly took a big hit. But then again that’s the genius of it; the robber may want you to wonder why he would only take items of lesser value.
  • Do the missing item(s) qualify as more valuable from a monetary or sentimental standpoint? Robbers usually take items that they can sell for cash.
  • Where in the home were the items that are missing? An item missing from your bathroom is much different than an item missing from your toolshed.
  • What about your neighbors? Are they suddenly missing items too, or did they notice anyone unusual in the neighborhood?
  • When was the last time you definitively remember seeing the objects in question? If it’s something you use every day, you may have been robbed, whereas if it’s something you haven’t used in months, it’s less likely.
  • If you have pets, do they seem frightened, like they had just witnessed something traumatizing? If you and your pet have some method of communicating, now is a good time to ask them if they witnessed a robbery and see how they react.
  • Do you know someone that could have stolen the item from you? Sometimes crazy ex-lovers will break into your home and steal something of little significance just to make you question your own sanity. (This really happened to an ex-girlfriend. An ex-boyfriend of hers was entering her home and taking really random objects like a hair dryer and lint trap from the clothes dryer!)
  • Do you know someone that has access to your home? Do you have a Kramer type of neighbor who frequently waltzes over and takes fresh produce or kitchen utensils?
  • Have you heard any unusual noises, or witnessed any unusual activity, like a car speeding away or gun shots?

If you have carefully considered all of these questions and still are unsure, the best thing to do is contact the police. Try to make note of everything that’s missing and its value. Above all, remember that the signs of robbery should be fairly obvious. Signs of forced entry, missing items that had little chance of being misplaced, and the overall inventory of what was and wasn’t taken should lead you to your answer fairly quickly.

What about you? How do you tell the difference if you’ve been robbed or are just being a forgetful Freddie? Comment below!

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My Hot Take:
Our family’s garage was robbed when we left the door open at night. Robbers noticed an opportunity to enter our home and made off with a video game console, tools, and soda. I was taking out the garbage when I noticed a car speed away. At first I didn’t think much of it, but to calm my mind I checked our home security video footage. Lo and behold, four masked burglars were going in and out of our garage over the span of seven minutes, while my family sat inside just feet away, totally oblivious. So, I knew I was robbed because of visual evidence and an inventory of missing items. Also, there were other reports of robbery in our neighborhood that night. The police never solved this mystery.

If you are missing a large or valuable item, it was probably stolen. If you are missing something that you wouldn’t expect a robber to take, it might still have been stolen, but you should think long and hard about other possibilities first.


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