Humor Among Thieves
November 1, 2013 12:52 PM   Subscribe

Our house got broken into, but the thieve(s) stole slightly strange objects. Why?

This past Halloween, our house got broken into. Among the things they stole were, iPhone chargers, a pair of crummy glasses (scratched up lenses, frames held together with safety pins), 3 broken cameras (but not the FOURTH, broken camera), and... a vibrator. They also went through our tuberware drawer, a pile of clothes destined to Goodwill, and the spice drawer. The only thing they took of any value were an iPod nano, and sadly, a passport.

What they DIDN'T take, was an envelope of around $1,000 cash, two laptops, and a custom built mountain bike, all in plain view. They also thankfully closed the door, so that the dumb dumb lab dog didn't saunter outside to practice his lack of understand on how cars work.

Why the thieves took so much time to locate a vibrator, hidden underneath a bed, but couldn't locate a pile of cash on top of a desk stupefies me. What's going on?
posted by alex_skazat to Home & Garden (22 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Halloween scavenger hunt?

Hard to know really. Might have been kids just goofing around.

Did you check your Rx drugs?
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:54 PM on November 1, 2013 [6 favorites]

Drugs? Metal illness? We had someone break into our place once who took only shoes, leaving computers, laptops, etc. They were on their way out when we came in (police called, drama, etc), but they were pretty spaced out. This was Venice Beach mind you.
posted by Erasmouse at 12:57 PM on November 1, 2013 [3 favorites]

When my house was robbed, we too lost weird stuff- like, a jar of change but not drugs, a couple graphing calculators but not a camera, some booze was missing but the bottle was still there, etc. Our conclusion was that the perps were probably dumb kids having a laugh and getting drunk in a random house for kicks, rather than hardened burglars.
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:57 PM on November 1, 2013 [4 favorites]

This was kids out thrillseeking. They didn't take the cash because they knew it would make it a Huge Deal, and the laptops and mountain bike weren't of any use to them and they knew they couldn't fence them without getting caught.

The chargers and the Nano were useful, essentially untraceable, and unlikely to cause a manhunt, so they grabbed them. Everything else was a trophy (especially the vibrator). Odds are one of them thinks the passport looks enough like them to be hilarious too, but I'd bet that it's already in some anonymous trash can.

And yeah, check your medicine cabinet.
posted by Etrigan at 12:59 PM on November 1, 2013 [23 favorites]

On posting-- forgot it was Halloween! Odds of opportunist pranksters go way up in that case.
posted by Erasmouse at 12:59 PM on November 1, 2013

I would guess it was just kids screwing around.

I once had my car broken into, along with several other people I knew when we were all parked in the same lot. The thieves went through my glove compartment to break every jewel case from the CDs stored in there, from other cars they took a tire iron, a painting, and apparently spent the time going through one of those large CD binders to take the specific CDs they wanted. Everything of value was left.

When you're a kid, where do you hide stuff? Under your bed of course! Maybe that's why they spent the time looking under your bed and ignored money left in plain sight.
posted by inertia at 1:11 PM on November 1, 2013

Seconding the kids pranking you explanation.

I would guess they took the passport with the thought of using it somehow as a fake ID. But in the sense of buying alcohol, not in the sense of stealing your identity or getting you in trouble.

I would be a little worried that a couple of idiot kids were able to break into your apartment no problem, though.
posted by rue72 at 2:10 PM on November 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

When I was broken into the first time, he took a pair of running shoes and several towels, and he opened one of my spare toothbrushes and used it, but left it there.

When he broke in the second time is when he took the TV and laptop.

So it could be someone messing around or it could be someone quickly casing your house, planning to return later with a better plan.
posted by payoto at 2:11 PM on November 1, 2013 [5 favorites]

nthing the dumb kids carrying out a Halloween dare.

The husband of a teacher of mine (a lab technician in a hospital) once had his car broken into and all they took was a selection of stool samples from the boot. Thieves are, by definition, not that smart - if they were, they'd have real jobs, right?
posted by matthew.alexander at 3:14 PM on November 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

Ages ago a friend of mine had her house broken into, she came back to the house to find they'd laid out an outfit for her on her bed, complete with shoes, stockings and even underwear. They stole nothing. Freaks man.
posted by Admira at 4:18 PM on November 1, 2013 [15 favorites]

You should at least operate on the assumption that this was the advance team, probably under-18s for legal purposes, who get paid commission plus whatever small-ticket items they can carry out in order to tell the actual burglars how many TVs, computers, game systems, and non-functional security systems you have.

Assume the real burglars will come back with a truck if you don't correct the vulnerabilities.

Also, thanks to the passport, you'll need to go through the whole identity theft rigamarole. (On the upside, stealing a passport is A Big Deal and Homeland Security will probably be interested to know it was taken.)
posted by Lyn Never at 4:20 PM on November 1, 2013 [13 favorites]

Not taking the bike is easily explained: they didn't want to be caught. A bike is huge. It's conspicuous. If you had run into them on your way home, you would have been able to identify them as the burglars.

I know you said the envelope was in plain view, but is it possible they missed the fact that it had cash in it?

How obviously broken were the cameras?

The fact that they stole a passport undermines the theory that they were just pulling a "prank."
posted by John Cohen at 7:17 PM on November 1, 2013

Why the thieves took so much time to locate a vibrator, hidden underneath a bed, but couldn't locate a pile of cash on top of a desk stupefies me. What's going on?

You're thinking from a normal person's point of view. If your friend comes over, they'll likely notice the cash on your desk but they'd never look under the bed. Put yourself in the mindset of a burglar — someone who has decided to break into strangers' homes for the purpose of finding valuable items inside. You'd quickly get into the habit of going directly to some of the most obscure spots in the home, precisely because lots of people keep their valuable or private items hidden there. It's possible that if you had tucked that envelope of cash away in a drawer, it would have been stolen.
posted by John Cohen at 7:19 PM on November 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

When our house got robbed, they took, in addition to valuables, laundry detergent, shaving cream, an alarm clock. This was an alternative to grocery shopping for these folks (who had been robbing lots of houses, and who got caught soon after they hit us).
posted by thelonius at 8:38 PM on November 1, 2013

We were burgled recently and for some reason the thieves took my partner's wrist brace. Who knows but I'm thinking maybe they have RSI.
posted by latkes at 10:54 PM on November 1, 2013

My rental car was broken into in Methuen MA; the thieves took my EMPTY backpack but not my ipod or two bottles of liquor..
posted by brujita at 12:11 AM on November 2, 2013

They looked in hiding places...with precision. They must have had some info about there being something hidden in those areas.

I think they got the wrong house, and you should tell your neighbors immediately.
posted by hal_c_on at 1:49 AM on November 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

I used to have this battered old coat that I loved. It was so worn out (and I was so poor) that I'd repaired all the rips and the torn-out pockets with duct tape and kept wearing it. It was a literally worthless coat. I came home one day to discover my door kicked in and the coat gone.

Sometimes you just have to accept that you'll never understand it.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:12 AM on November 2, 2013

Spice drawer? Likewise, I'm seeing advice to hide valuables in the battery compartment of a vibrator, tupperware in the kitchen, in old clothes and boxes marked "old clothes," etc. Maybe they were looking for hidden money in these "secret" places and overlooked the totally unhidden envelope.

Did the passport have a photo of one of you wearing glasses similar to the crummy glasses? That's all I can think of for that mystery. Anyway, they probably only wanted small stuff and cash, and definitely not a unique bike, for example, and had read a Reddit thread on where to hide small valuables in the home.
posted by taz at 3:06 AM on November 2, 2013

One time when my apartment was broken into the thieves stole a mini stereo and my milk... Life is full of surprises. The milk made me sad, wrecked my post break in comfort meal of pb&j.
posted by crazycanuck at 9:24 AM on November 2, 2013

They probably wanted the chargers to charge the iPod Nano before selling it on the street. I don't know if the iPhone charger charges the Nano, but they might have been grabbing stuff quickly without noticing that this wouldn't work.
posted by John Cohen at 3:24 PM on November 3, 2013

Or they might have stolen someone else's iPhone, without getting a charger. Then it would make sense for them to put a high value on your iPhone charger, to be able to charge the iPhone before selling it, or to sell the iPhone + charger as a package deal.

Again, you're thinking like a normal, good person. They're thinking like criminals.
posted by John Cohen at 3:26 PM on November 3, 2013

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