Residential Security: Top 6 Items
Most Commonly Stolen from Homes

As we detailed in a previous blog post, many burglars target residential homes with the intent of stealing specific high value items. The Department of Criminal Justice & Criminology at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte conducted a study, to “understand decisions to burglarize from the offender’s perspective”… and the results contain some very helpful information to homeowners.

Residential Security: Top 6 Items Most Commonly Stolen from Homes

The study is based off of information gathered from interviews with convicted burglars in Ohio, Kentucky and North Carolina. The researchers spoke with 422 randomly-selected, incarcerated male and female burglars across the three states. The goal for the project was to recognize trends and understand the motives behind burglaries, and the research team succeeded in doing exactly that. For example, their studies found that many of the interviewees were repeat offenders… and that a common motivation for committing the crimes was a need for money to buy narcotics.

Based on the information gathered by UNC-Charlotte, Supreme Security Systems has comprised a list of the most commonly stolen items from homes.


Of all the burglars interviewed, 90 percent of the interviewees admitted to taking cash from a residence, and 79 percent reported acquiring cash as their main intention during the burglary. Cash is the main priority of burglars because it is the quickest and easiest route to getting what they want. UNC-Charlotte’s Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology found that 88 percent of respondents indicated that their top reason for committing a crime was their need to acquire drugs. Stealing cold hard cash eliminates the process of pawning and re-selling items in order to get cash to purchase the drugs.


Because jewelry is among the easiest high-value items to re-sell or pawn, it is the second-most targeted item by burglars, with 77.8 percent of respondents admitting to stealing jewelry. The logic behind stealing jewelry is essentially the same as cash. If a burglar can’t find cash in the home, the next most beneficial item to steal is jewelry. About 68 percent of burglars admitted to having interest in obtaining jewelry during a robbery, but as stated above, nearly 78 percent ended up stealing jewelry. This goes to show that if jewelry is visible or attainable in a home, chances are high that a burglar will take it.

Illegal Drugs

While most homes may not contain illegal drugs, 65.9 percent of respondents admitted to stealing drugs from a residence, pharmaceutical and illicit. As logic would suggest, involvement with illegal drugs makes a homeowner more vulnerable to crime. As noted, most burglaries tend to involve the need for money to buy drugs or the need for drugs themselves.


As we saw with the Monmouth County “career burglar,” electronics are highly targeted items by burglars. According to the Consumer Electronics Association, Americans own approximately 24 electronic products per household. This results in a higher likelihood of a payday for burglars as they can expect to get away with a handful of electronic goods during a burglary. While electronics are harder and less profitable to re-sell, they’re still enticing to thieves. About 64 percent of burglars interviewed admitted to stealing electronics from a home.

Prescription Drugs

Half of the burglars interviewed by UNC-Charlotte admitted to stealing prescription drugs during a burglary. This is a relatively new trend in home burglaries, as prescription drug use continues to be more and more commonplace.The Mayo Clinic reports that nearly 70 percent of Americans are on at least one prescription drug, and more than half take two. Burglars are typically interested in antidepressants and opioids and one can expect a burglar to ransack the medicine cabinet during a burglary.

Clothing and Shoes

Burglars will look everywhere they can when stealing from a house and this includes the closet. Of all the burglars interviewed, 18.4% said that they took clothing and/or shoes from a house. According to Forbes, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the average American family spends $1,700 on clothes annually. In 1930, the average American woman owned nine outfits, today that number is 30. The idea is that there are now higher chances for a burglar to get away with some expensive items of clothing. Also, about 30% of the offenders said they would spend the income gained during a crime to purchase clothes.

The study also backed up a statistic (often referenced on this blog) that the presence of a home alarm system deters the majority of burglars from targeting a property.

Lastly, but certainly not least, in this study, 60% of burglars indicated that the presence of an alarm would cause them to seek an alternative target altogether.

Contact us for a home security quote!