I wuz robbed
October 22, 2005 10:50 PM   Subscribe

What do people really do with the CDs they steal?

My little car was recently violated by persons unknown. She had little of value inside of her, but whoever-it-was passed over an admittedly cheap personal cd player (hooked into my tape deck so I could hear CDs in the car) that would surely have fetched a few dollars and took a small book of my CDs instead.

What I don't understand is what they're going to do with them? It was 10-15 cds without cases, full of music nobody (besides me) listens to anymore. I can't fathom any CD shop paying for caseless and unpopular CDs, and I'd think whoever tried to sell them would look pretty suspicious.

I'm partially curious because I'd probably be willing to go buy them back if they were on sale cheap. I just have no clue where they might have been taken to, assuming it doesn't involve the dumpster.
posted by FortyT-wo to Society & Culture (23 answers total)
Pawnshops sell CDs for a buck a piece, maybe they pay 50 cents to the theif.

The last time my car got broken into, the dumbest things they took (aside from my CD player and CDs) was an old pair of prescription glasses, a sweatshirt, and all the change in my change tray. I don't think they put a lot of thought into the things they steal.
posted by mathowie at 11:08 PM on October 22, 2005

First of all, pawnshops don't thrive by judging whether their customers look suspicious. Second, you'd be surprised what people will buy. Third, consider the possibility that thieves enjoy CDs too. And fourth, realize the probability that you're trying to ascribe logic and reason to a bjorkin' crackhead.
posted by cribcage at 11:13 PM on October 22, 2005

Yeah, my car was just broken into as well...logic is definitely not part of the game. Take everything out of the glove compartment except Pinkerton. Leave books. Leave the cds with actual cases that might be worth something.

So, I don't really know besides pawn shops. I have been to weird flea markets where people are selling cds (and a bunch of other crap) for super cheap, and I always wonder what's up.
posted by jetskiaccidents at 11:23 PM on October 22, 2005

I've had plenty of things stolen from my car over the years - found a condom that wasn't mine in the back seat once in Brooklyn (!) and after the initial rage I always felt better when I thought that maybe someone who otherwise would have never gotten the experience to hear the live version of "Chip Away" by Jane's Addiction would have been as moved as I was the first time I heard it. It's just stuff, it's not meant to be permanent. Just hope that someone, somewhere will enjoy it as much as you did.
posted by any major dude at 11:50 PM on October 22, 2005

I lived a block away from a homeless hangout in Vancouver (the killer combination of a community aid office, a Money Mart and a liquor store—see if you can figure out where I lived), and there were often people selling all sorts of random stuff they'd unloaded from their carts—a bunch of magazines from 1994 here, some ratty sweatshirts there. The vast majority of it probably came from dumpster dives, I'm sure, but I wouldn't be surprised if some of it came from petty theft as well.
posted by chrominance at 11:57 PM on October 22, 2005

I have been approached a couple of times near some parking lots by someone who claimed to have underestimated the parking charges and needed $20 to get his car out of the lot. One time they had about 10-15 used CDs and another time they had a binder of CD's that they would be willing to sell for $20 ("or $15, or whatever you have to help a brother out of a bind.") The guys were reasonable well dressed and did not look like the regular street hustlers, but the CDs were obviously just stolen out of someone's car. They probably took only your CD's so you wouldn't feel the need to report it
posted by Yorrick at 12:54 AM on October 23, 2005

My house was cleaned out by burglars. I even went as far as wandering through local pawn shops, but the police said by the very morning my stuff was taken it was in the next state over being sold at a swap meet. About the best you can hope for is being on a jury for one of these petty thieves and getting a little payback. If you can't get the individual, go after the breed!
posted by phewbertie at 1:04 AM on October 23, 2005

I've wondered this too. I also wonder what they do with the stereos they keep stealing from me (bastards!) Is there really a market for two-models-old, wires-hanging-out-the-back, only-$150-new car stereos? Really?? And what did they do with my organizer?

Once, my parents' van was broken into and they stole one of the bench seats from the back. A couple years later, a guy approached my mom in a parking lot and asked if she was looking to buy a bench seat. Our joke is that she bought her own seat back for $50.
posted by clh at 1:32 AM on October 23, 2005

I too have experienced this. They took a pair of expensive prescription sunglasses (I have a rather unique prescription), the contents of the glovebox (enjoy those oil change receipts, pal) and a wallet of CDs all without liner notes or cover art. Well, they also stole the CD player and amp, but those make sense to steal.

I don't know what you'd do with CDs without jewel cases. Maybe pawn shops would take them but I can't see making any more than a few bucks total from that. Maybe they listen to them, but I know my tastes aren't exactly mainstream.

I'm guessing that part of it, at least for some theives, is just the thrill of taking something.
posted by Rhomboid at 1:46 AM on October 23, 2005

I had left my car unlocked, so I guess it wasn't really broken into. I came back to an aborted attempt to get my CD player out of the dash (strange model, have to take off the entire dash to even get it to slide out) and my CD wallet stolen. About 50 CDs, all CD-Rs... why would I bring my real CDs with me? So I wasn't too surprised when, down the street, I came across my discarded CD wallet, with discs intact.
posted by adzm at 2:03 AM on October 23, 2005

i don't lock my car, either ... i'd rather deal with them stealing my radio then smashing my window to steal my radio ... other than the car registration, there really isn't anything else i keep in there worth taking
posted by pyramid termite at 4:24 AM on October 23, 2005

We had an extreme case of this a few years ago; the indie record store in my town was broken into, and they took the discs behind the counter, all without the cases, which were empty for browsing on the store's floor. The discs never showed up, but someone ended up with an amazing collection of jacket-less avant garde and obscure cds. Not very pawn-able, nor eBay-able, so I guess they just enjoyed the CDs. Bastards. The store hung on for another year, but couldn't make it.
posted by bendybendy at 6:25 AM on October 23, 2005

I think it's just a case of speed over accuracy. They're trying to minimize their time in the car, so they take everything that's even remotely saleable, and then just throw it away if it doesn't work out.
posted by smackfu at 7:09 AM on October 23, 2005

What smackfu said. My dad's car got stolen and they cleaned it out - including geological maps and cassette audiobooks of Shakespeare's Sonnets. Heh.
posted by paperpete at 7:41 AM on October 23, 2005

Er. Convienence is a big motivator for thieves. Locking your car might easily dissuade that guy just walking by and checking door handles. If all thieves in your area bust through windows, well, sounds like a nasty place to live.
posted by Atreides at 8:40 AM on October 23, 2005

I always, always, always see books of cds for sale at our local swap meet here in San Diego. Its usually a few dudes, just sitting at a table with some books of cds, nothing else for sale. Sort of makes you wonder... ahem.
posted by fillsthepews at 9:24 AM on October 23, 2005

My neighbor had his car broken into and the theives did _not_ steal the brand new car alarm system, still in the box, sitting in his back seat.
posted by m@ at 10:33 AM on October 23, 2005

I guess it's always possible it was just a young kid who broke into the car and had no intention of making any money from the crime, just wanted to steal something for the thrill and to show their friends. I used to steal boring stuff like rulers and pencils from my local Woolworths when I was a kid, just for the rush.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 2:07 PM on October 23, 2005

I've always wondered about this, too.

Reading the responses got me to wondering if maybe lots of people keep a spare $20 or something in CD sleeves "in case of emergency" or something. Who knows?
posted by aaronh at 4:37 PM on October 23, 2005

Even with little resale value, dealers will often offer small rocks for things like wallets of cds and car radios.
posted by klangklangston at 4:51 PM on October 23, 2005

Whoever it was probably sold them as fast as he could, if he could, then bought heroin. So, I think it's worth a look in a couple of pawn shops. It's not like this is the work of a large network of diamond thieves looking to make the biggest profit possible on the black market. More likely, a desperate junkie.
posted by Airhen at 5:14 PM on October 23, 2005

Ditto adzm and smackfu; I doubt they checked inside the case to see if they liked your CDs or if they were resaleable, they probably just snatched and ran. I don't know if many people keep emergency money in their CD case, but in the glove box is pretty likely. It'd be smarter to just grab the entire contents, oil change receipts and all, and sort it later, than to sit in the car you've just broken into and pick through the paper pile.
posted by attercoppe at 7:36 PM on October 23, 2005

If this had happened in Glasgow, you'd be able to nip down to the Barras (a brilliant, dodgy in parts, frequently-raided market) the next day and buy them back for a few quid.

(Smack/crackheads always go for CDs because they're easily portable and easy to sell fast for a small amount of cash - when my old flat got broken into, they literally had to step over a Powerbook to get to the CDs, which were on top of my flatmates quite fancy seperates system, but they left with discs only.)
posted by jack_mo at 7:10 AM on October 24, 2005

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