We’ve all lost some things throughout the years. Losing something is part of life, whether it’s your favorite toy or a letter you’ve tried to keep safe. However, sometimes we end up in precarious situations where people forcibly take things from us.
A thief may have stolen your wallet or car, which are undeniably valuable and contain sensitive information that could further compromise your safety.
Theft and burglaries are challenging to solve, but there are preventive measures that allow you to avoid them from happening. But when it’s already happened, know that there are still steps you can do to take back what was lost.
Trust us—we’ve been there. We’ve lost something in the past, so we understand how unnerving it can feel. So, we looked into various theft sources online to understand the process of retrieving your lost or stolen item.
We’ve uncovered instances that can leave you vulnerable to losing your belongings, but we also know the best thing you can do to solve a theft. Don’t miss out on crucial steps—read on to learn more.
How to reclaim stolen property
If something valuable has been stolen from you, remember that not all hope is lost. There are still measures you can take to track down the culprit and places you can go to for help.
Here are some of the best methods we’ve gathered for you:
1. Inform law enforcement
As soon as you find out something has been stolen from you, or as soon as the thief left with your things and you’re safe, inform law enforcement. You can wait for the police to arrive at the location of the burglary, but you’re also free to visit the station.
You need to let them know exactly what has been stolen, including the narrative of the incident.
You can provide photographs and serial numbers of the items taken from you, as the idea here is to be as detailed as possible to help them track the items down. If you have security footage, secure a copy and submit it as evidence.
Recovering stolen property from the police requires you to provide accurate details like the serial number, when and where you last had the item and photographs. You may also need to file an application for the return of stolen property.
2. Use locator apps for electronic gadgets
Innovation and convenience are the hallmarks of our digital age, and many gadgets now come with locator apps that help you track them down should the inevitable happen.
For instance, if you’re missing your iPhone or Macbook, you can use “Find My” to locate your lost device. Running the app allows you to access a GPS map showing where your item is, but this isn’t foolproof. Your device needs to connect to a Wi-Fi or cellular network for this to work.
The burglar may disable the app, so it’s best to lock your device. You can do so through the following steps:
- Step 1: Log into your iCloud account. Mark your phone as “lost,” as this locks your device.
- Step 2: If necessary, you can also remotely erase your device. This will wipe out all your data.
If you have an Android phone, on the other hand, a mobile app called “Find my Device” can be useful. Use it by following the steps:
- Step 1: Sign in to your Google account and go to android.com/find. After doing so, the device will get an alert, and you’ll then receive information if it was last seen or tracked through your email or the platform browser.
- Step 2: If you can’t find your device, erase all your information.
3. Visit pawn shops
Where are stolen items sold? Usually, thieves opt for pawn shops.
Pawning is the fastest way to get cash in exchange for valuable items. Burglars will likely make pawn shops their first stop, which includes thrift stores.
If you have the details about your stolen goods, such as serial numbers and photographs, the store owners might be able to help you—and can go as far as return the items to you.
Can stolen jewelry be traced? It may be unlikely to track unless you have numerous photos and other forms of identifying it.
4. Look at online marketplaces
eCommerce is a booming industry, so you’ll also likely find your items listed for sale on eBay, Craigslist, Depop, Facebook marketplace, and other similar platforms that allow criminals to sell under anonymous identities.
Search these sites and scrutinize pictures and descriptions, but remember that this may take a while. It’s important to check for any identifying marks, including dents, scratches, or stickers you might have placed on your valuables.
Once you find a similar item, contact the police to help you verify the item. Submit serial numbers, photos, and other evidence that can help.
If you can, ask the seller for more information about the items plus additional photos. More often than not, this can help identify if the stolen item is truly yours—just don’t try to buy your item back as soon as you verify it’s yours.
Similarly, it’s also essential to search for your personal information online. If you’ve had a laptop or device stolen, the thief may now have access to your personal data. If you can, consult the help of an online identity theft protection service.
Now, can you go to jail for buying stolen goods without knowing? If you didn’t know you were buying stolen goods and didn’t buy them in a situation that should’ve alerted you that they were stolen, then you likely won’t face criminal charges.
5. Sift through social media sites
If you live in a community, you may have neighbors that can serve as witnesses to the burglary. If not, you can borrow security camera footage from their homes just to collect evidence.
You can also look through social media, where you can post photographs of the stolen items. This is best for large stolen items, such as vehicles, appliances, and other items that you can easily spot.
What is the likelihood that my stolen items will be recovered?
Unfortunately, reports show that only around 28 percent of stolen items can be recovered. Although the chances are slim, it’s important to file a police report. Letting the authorities know, and having an official record on hand, allows you a better chance of getting your stolen items replaced via insurance.
Sometimes, owners recover their items after the police successfully track them down. Simply put, you never know what can happen—but a police report may just give you a fighting chance.
Homeowners insurance: Does it cover theft?
Homeowners often face theft, as burglars have developed craftier and more sophisticated means of stealing. This only means that we’re all vulnerable, so it’s crucial to invest in an additional layer of protection beyond just locks and bolts.
Homeowners insurance, for example, covers stolen personal property. It can also reimburse any theft-related expenses, such as repairs and replacements.
Forced entry can damage doors and windows, but having homeowners insurance by your side can help save your bank account. There are other home insurance coverage types, and here are some we’ve found that can help with theft:
- Personal property: This coverage pays for the repair or replacement of your personal belongings should they end up either stolen or damaged during a break-in.
- Dwelling: This coverage pays for damage to your home during a break-in, such as damaged doors or broken windows.
Anti-theft measures to protect your items and identity
Apart from knowing what to do after thieves have stolen your items, learning how to arm yourself with anti-theft measures can prevent such instances from happening in the first place.
Here are the best tips to help protect your items and prevent thieves from accessing your sensitive information from fraud:
1. Place your contact information on your items
Not everyone subscribes to the “finders keepers” way of life. Sometimes, you may misplace your items, and a Good Samaritan may find them.
When this happens, they’ll likely look for any identifying information on the item, such as your name and contact details. Because of this, it’s wise to place non-sensitive details on important things like your wallet and electronic gadgets.
You can leave your name with a phone number inside the item’s case or on the device’s wallpaper. A Google Voice number or email address can also work if you don’t want to put your phone number.
If you want to up your chances of getting something back, you can also put a note saying you’ll reward the finder if they return your item.
2. Keep your passwords and sensitive personal data safe
It’s essential to password-protect your laptops, tablets, and other mobile devices to prevent thieves from accessing your sensitive data. If your items are password-protected, amateur criminals will only end up frustrated. Who knows? Maybe they might even return them.
If you have sensitive work files or personal data that you can’t risk other people seeing, you may want to double your protection by encrypting and password-protecting your computer folders. This prevents criminals from accessing the files.
3. Enable a remote wipe option for your mobile device
Tracking stolen items can be difficult, and sometimes, you never get them back. However, you can protect yourself from identity theft, so you may have to wipe your device’s information remotely.
To enable this feature on an iOS device, follow these steps:
- Step 1: Open the Settings app, then select “iCloud.” You’ll have to log onto your Apple ID.
- Step 2: Enable the “Find My” feature. This app lets you locate your device or remotely wipe your data by signing into iCloud.com.
If you’re an Android user, here’s how to do this:
- Step 1: From your app menu, tap “Google Settings.” Then, select “Android Device Manager.”
- Step 2: Turn on the “Remotely locate this device” option and “Allow remote lock and factory reset.”
4. Install security cameras
Security cameras are effective in preventing theft by deterring criminals, so it may be wise to install them on your property. Even if thieves push through with the crime, you’ll have the means to identify them and evidence to present to law enforcement.
Having something valuable stolen from you can send you into a state of grief and frustration, but we’re here to reiterate that not all is lost. You can take some measures to recover your lost items, such as contacting the police, using locator apps, checking online, etc.
You also have many ways to protect your valuables from theft, especially since you’re at risk of losing items and identity theft should thieves end up stealing wallets or devices. As you fortify your security layers online and offline, remember to keep this guide in mind.