Weird Thefts: 5 Frequently Stolen Items You Wouldn’t Expect

by Alyssa Oursler | August 16, 2013 4:05 pm

thievesWe’re all familiar with the usual spectrum of theft — be it big-time bank robberies that movie plots are made of or silly small-time grabs of things like restaurant silverware.

But some thefts aren’t notable for being big or small. Rather, they’re just plain weird.

In Russia, for example, a man actually stole an entire road[1]. And stateside, theft of pregnancy tests, baby formula and even pickup truck tailgates have actually become almost normal … or at least common.

And that’s just the beginning. Burglars have focused their attention on some surprising things in recent years — things that will make classic ATM thefts or purse-snatching seem worthy of little more than a yawn.

Let’s take a look at five weird thefts that have taken place relatively recently.


hair185You might not think of hair as a hot commodity, but that’s exactly what it is … and that’s exactly why thieves are snatching it up.

Recently, The Telegraph reported[2] that a group of Venezuelan thieves called “The Pirahnas” have actually been holding women at gunpoint, telling them to put their hair into a ponytail, then removing it with a razor before taking off.

And here in the states, robbers have a different tactic: Hit up beauty supply stores, which often have lots of high-priced natural hair extensions on their shelves. According to The Chicago Tribune[3], a beauty supply store was robbed of nearly $230,000 worth of hair extensions last July.

And before that, other Chicago-based burglars snatched $80,000 from a nearby beauty store, while cities like Philadelphia and Houston have faced similar heists.

Maybe we should stop saying “hold onto your hats” and tell people “hold onto your hair” instead.


oystersIt’s easy to picture a burglar — dressed in black and wearing a mask — taking off with precious jewels like pearls. But surprisingly, plenty also take off with oysters.

As Bruce Kennedy of MSN Money[4] recently explained, “Oysters have been growing in popularity with foodies over the past several years … [and] oystering is a labor-intensive and painstaking business.”

No wonder, then, that Cape Cod varieties are being snatched up quite a bit this summer. A few recent example of the thefts:

Considering that an oyster can sell for up to $3.50, you can see why thieves are lining up to snag some … and police are beginning to line up to stop them.

Sap and Syrup

syrupAnother common theft New Englanders deal with: Folks stealing their sap. According to CBS News[6], last spring saw several reports of trespassers using a spout-like tap and a bucket to steal sap.

They likely then used to it make maple syrup, which is a pricey (and delicious) treat. Maple syrup is 13 times pricier than gasoline, selling at around $50 per gallon.

The sap-thieves are a double whammy, as they have also been damaging the trees they steal from in the process.

Of course, some folks skip the middle-man and just steal the maple syrup directly. Last year, enough syrup for 183 million pancakes[7] was stolen from a warehouse in Quebec. Luckily, most of it was recovered, saving the syrup-seller from one sticky situation.

Laundry Detergent

tide185While most of us associate laundry detergent with dreaded chores, thieves associate it with big bucks. In fact, Procter & Gamble’s (PG[8]) Tide detergent is known as “liquid gold” because it sells for so much on the black market.

In fact, the detergent itself is often used as a form of currency for folks looking to buy drugs, with a 150-ounce bottle[9] going for either $5 in cash or $10 worth of marijuana or crack cocaine. As Richard Farrell of Discovery News summed it up[10]:

“The Tide thieves swap their haul in exchange for drugs; the dealers turn around and sell the detergent on the street. (Whether or not drug dealers keep some of the Tide for laundry day chores remains unknown.)”

And that’s part of detergent’s appeal: Just about everyone uses it.


dog185While many people adopt dogs to prevent their houses from getting robbed, many robbers are actually coming for the pups themselves. In fact, the American Kennel Club reports that the number of dogs stolen each year has been marching steadily upwards since 2008. Just over 70 thefts were reported that year, compared to nearly 450 last year.

Reports of increased theft have come in across the country — in Maryland[11], Georgia[12] and even Hawaii[13]. And many thieves are “flipping” the dogs — snatching them, then selling them on Craigslist or other outlets.

While some owners have found their missing dogs for sale on the Internet, others don’t recover their dogs because they simply assume the pup is lost, and thus don’t contact the police.

MSN Money’s Jonathan Berr also noted[14] that “thieves are especially interested in purebred and smaller dogs, which are easy to transport, that they can sell for quick cash.”

The good news is that we have the technology to stop this. An easy way to prevent this from happening to you: Microchip your pet[15].

  1. an entire road:
  2. The Telegraph reported:
  3. According to The Chicago Tribune:
  4. Bruce Kennedy of MSN Money:
  5. weeks leading up to that heist:
  6. According to CBS News:
  7. enough syrup for 183 million pancakes:
  8. PG:
  9. 150-ounce bottle:
  10. Richard Farrell of Discovery News summed it up:
  11. Maryland:
  12. Georgia:
  13. Hawaii:
  14. Jonathan Berr also noted:
  15. Microchip your pet:

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