General Question

YARNLADY's avatar

Do people steal things that are left out in your front yard?

Asked by YARNLADY (45021points) June 16th, 2009

I recently brought in a supply of bricks, which are piled up next to my house, and they keep disappearing. Any plants in pots that are put out disappear, and last week my sprinkler head went missing.

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51 Answers

Tink's avatar

Yes!! My skateboard

shadling21's avatar

All the time.

My mother had a goose made of cement that she’d dress up in wacky costumes (don’t ask) and someone stole it. That thing was heavy!

I have friends who, if they see tiles and bricks out in the open, will just take them.
The sprinkler head thing is just weird.

cak's avatar

We always put a scarecrow out and dress him for the football season, well…we did. Last year, Bob was kidnapped. I’m fairly certain he was part of a scavenger hunt.

I’ve had some stepping stones disappear…that annoyed the snot out of me. My son made one of them for me. I thought that was pretty darn cold. GRRR!!

Likeradar's avatar

@shadling21 In high school, someone left a goose in a shirt on my porch… shenanigans!

Gwilt's avatar

Oddly, no.

The man who came to build me a picket fence left all his supplies, including timber, in my (at that point un-fenced) front garden and much to my surprise not a thing was taken.

Clearly I should have more faith in people.

knitfroggy's avatar

When I was in high school we used to steal stuff out of yards every weekend. There was nothing else to do, I guess. I feel bad about it now, but at the time it seemed ok.

I’ve never had anything taken from my yard, but I don’t really have much out there except a concrete frog my kids got me for mother’s day, I’d be ticked if it turned up missing.

dalepetrie's avatar

I don’t leave things in my front yard, since I’ve had things taken from all over my yard and even in my closed garage. In fact, just a few days ago, I found some signs that someone had vigorously tried to break into my house via the side door, but the police told me that my neighborhood has no reported break in activity as it relates to houses….garages and cars yes, houses no…so I feel so freakin’ “special” now. And I actually live in what’s considered to be an EXTREMELY safe neighborhood. Bottom line, people just suck, there are too many of them, and I only hope the next pandemic has a 100% mortality rate for assholes.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

I’ve had a gnome, concrete squirrel and a huge jade tree taken. Separately.

whatthefluther's avatar

We have a ten foot tall knight in shining armor standing guard in front of our home (we call him Elmo). People frequently cruise by slowly and suspiciously, but no actual attempts have been made to relocate him (Elmo is visibly chained down and we have a very tight neighborhood).

YARNLADY's avatar

@PandoraBoxx I forgot about my stolen Jade tree. That beauty was fifty years old. My Mom started it from a tiny cutting, and when she passed on, I got it. I don’t see how they could have lifted the huge planter it was in.

augustlan's avatar

Worse than that. Three weeks ago, my husband’s truck was broken into while it was parked behind our house. The only thing missing? His prescription bi-focal sunglasses! WTF? Then, two weeks ago, our lawn mower was stolen out of our garage. Last week, my father-in-law’s house was broken into. Power tools and money were taken, and we’re pretty sure he walked into the house while this was going on. There were signs of a hurried exit. I’m starting to get pretty damn paranoid!

whatthefluther's avatar

@augustlan…I swear to you: I did not steal nor do I know anything about your husband’s prescription bi-focal sunglasses! What makes you think I might know something about it? Yeah, I know, I always have a guilty look on my face See ya…wtf

YARNLADY's avatar

@augustlan I read that it’s getting worse, with the depression combined with the cutbacks in police and other services. Our police chief actually declared open season for house burglaries when he went said on the TV news that his department would no longer respond to house burglaries, because of the budget cuts.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

@augustlan, our “crime wave” last summer was people would break into unoccupied houses that were up for sale and steal the copper pipes.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

@YARNLADY, that’s such a shame. Mine was taken during a 15 minute interval when I drove a child to church youth group. I have a replacement, which stays in the backyard, but it’s not the same. The other one was really dense and heavy; the new one grows at funky angles.

chyna's avatar

No but I had one of those deer and doe’s out for Christmas that their heads move up and down like they are eating. Some smart ass kept putting the buck on the doe at night so it would look like he was mounting her.

augustlan's avatar

@chyna lol4rl… I snorted!

Aethelwine's avatar

When my sons were younger we bought them new bicycles from the bicycle shop, not the crappy Wal Mart bikes. They only had the bicycles for a few weeks before they were stolen from our front yard. I had even reminded them the previous night to put them in the backyard. We reported it to the police, but of course they were never found. The year before, my youngest son’s bicycle was stolen from his friends front yard down the street. You think he would have learned his lesson then.

Lupin's avatar

No. We live on a mile long, dead end road where everyone knows everyone else and waves when cars go by. We get excited when a stranger drives by.
Nobody touches your stuff. Mowers, trailers, topsoil can sit out front for as long as you like.
Of course we all have guns so that might be a factor, too. ;-)

Lupin's avatar

May I suggest Radio Shack’s Cat. No. 49–329 Passive Infrared Sensor Alarm? It is battery operated, you can turn it on an off remotely, and it is small enough to place anywhere. They might not make it any more.
Here is a newer version
When it goes off you can respond appropriately. 911, or .22

MissAusten's avatar

@chyna Someone did that to our deer and doe last year! We got a good laugh out of it!

We’ve never had anything stolen from our yard. My son leaves his bike out overnight from time to time, and the back yard always has toys and things left out.

When I was a kid, we lived in a nice neighborhood and still had to be careful about bikes. Mine was stolen once, but a neighbor found it a few blocks away. We also had this big Santa Claus decoration that my mom stuffed with newspapers and tied to the lamppost in our front yard each Christmas. It was like a running joke each year—someone would un-stuff Santa in the middle of the night. It drove my mom crazy. Once she said she’d be less annoyed if they just stole it.

casheroo's avatar

People steal bricks, plants and stones?? I’ve never heard of that.
Where we used to live, right next to some woods, teenagers would go into the woods to drink and take any lawn chairs you had out. I was always fearful they’d take my sons toys, but since people called the cops so often, the teens had stopped doing it.

peyton_farquhar's avatar

We have a cinder block retaining wall surrounding part of our yard. We once had a few of the blocks stolen off the wall which were then used to prop up a pickup truck so all the tires could be taken off and the blocks were left in the yard of the house the tireless truck was in front of, a few doors down.

Darwin's avatar

Unfortunately, in our town, there is a culture in certain parts of town that considers cruising the streets of nicer neighborhoods and looking for stuff to “liberate” a legitimate way to earn a living. You really cannot leave anything loose out in the front yard or it will walk away. Plants, yard art, bicycles, lawn equipment, patio furniture, and many more things are considered fair game.

These are the same folks who figure it is okay to fill the bed of the pick up with sand or gravel delivered for someone else’s project and to steal the air conditioner off the pad of an empty house.

Lupin's avatar

@Darwin See my 2nd answer above. Or iIf you have a couple of extra bucks you can buy an IR Deer camera from Gander Mountain for about $180. It will take pictures of the SOBs in the dark and you can give them to the local police – or post them on a website. If they are kids in high school have another kid post them for you and text it to their friends.
Paint ball gun fired at their car works too.

YARNLADY's avatar

@Lupin Giving the police pictures of the thieves does no good. They will not follow up on it, even if you have the license plate number. Our Police Chief actually went on TV and announced that with the budget cutbacks, they will no longer handle home burglaries.

@Darwin We have that here, also. They even drive around to new home building sites and steal everything they can carry away. It has gotten even more lucrative lately, because the sites are now abandoned and everything is game; carpets, windows, doors, fireplaces, the kitchen sink.

Darwin's avatar

@Lupin – It is pretty much pointless. It seems to be about half of the population of the west side of town, many of whom already have their photos up on the police station walls and in the “Most Wanted” in town part of the paper. They are gangbangers and also folks without green cards who slip away across the border if things get too hot for them. Basically, if no people are injured or killed it is very low priority. And firing a gun inside city limits is a very big no-no locally.

Lupin's avatar

@YARNLADY @Darwin You have no idea how hearing that saddens me. I always want the good guy to win.
There are many things you can do to fight back. One of those alarm units make a lot of noise.
If that does not work, how about connecting some part of the stuff to a cleverly hidden electric fence wire? Make sure it is a Weeder type like I mentioned in another question earlier. It will leave skin Do they have to drive up on your lawn to get the material? A hidden nail strip will flatten tires.
I don’t know your situation but I do know that the bad guys have to lose before they will ever stop.
You can PM me. We’ll think of something.

Darwin's avatar

@Lupin – They just cruise the streets looking for opportunities. Then the fastest one in the car dashes up and grabs whatever it is and they are off and gone. I just make certain not to leave anything out where they can get it.

If we were allowed to fence our front yards I would let the dogs out at random intervals, but I have settled for a large “Beware of Dog” sign. That plus leaving the front door open but the storm door locked discourages folks from getting too far from the curb.

Someone did try to break in through our front door while we were home one time, but the dogs took care of that. We have a pit bull and an American Bulldog who simply love to chase people who do stuff like that.

BTW, I don’t have a lawn. I have trees and shrubs so they would be very unwise to drive up into my yard.

YARNLADY's avatar

We are having our fence put in next week. It’s mostly for my grandson, who has learned how to open the doors now, and keeps letting the dog out. I already have a gate on the porch to keep sales people away, now I will feel a little safer with the whole yard fenced.

Lupin's avatar

@YARNLADY The fence will help but they can still get over it. I’d have some kind of decorative, but conductive strip across the top of it so you can wire it to give you a signal in the house when someone touches it. Also a motion sensing light is helpful. A magnet and reed switch on the gate will give you a beep in the house whenever someone opens the gate. You can buy this stuff easily at Radio shack or have one of you r kids make it from a kit by Ramsey Electronics.

@Darwin Oh man! Your situation must be incredibly difficult for your husband. The culture he came from is totally different. The crime rates in Japan area almost as low as my neighborhood. Do you at least have motion sensing outdoor spot lights? If you buy an X-10 unit you can have one turn on a device (a beeper) in your house simultaneously. Then you can respond. I still like the electric fence idea. You will hear the scream. The deer camera with an IR flash located high in a tree looking down would be effective. The flash card will hold 512 pictures with a date/time stamp. Very good for evidence. A hunter friend of ours leaves one of those cameras on my property so he can see when the deer are moving.
Unless I know where the camera is, I am always afraid of peeing out there. I wouldn’t want to have pics of me show up on the web.

YARNLADY's avatar

@Lupin great tips, thanks

Lupin's avatar

@YARNLADY And I haven’t even gotten started. There are other things, but this is a public forum.
Here is a picture of a reed switch. They are cheap and can be invisible if you push them into the wood post of the fence.

YARNLADY's avatar

@Lupin—I have a gun, and I know how to use it, but I don’t think I could drag them into the house afterwards, and we aren’t supposed to shoot them in the street. I also have a crossbow, but it’s pretty hard to ‘accidentally’ shoot a crossbow.

Lupin's avatar

@YARNLADY Shhhh! But now you’re talking. The rules vary from state to state and this site is definitely not the place to discuss this topic but… Theoretically, if you were on your property and there was an intruder, and you were frightened and thought you were in danger and tried to back away and you thought you saw something in his hand and he kept coming toward you, so you responded…

PandoraBoxx's avatar

Several years ago, there was a group of middle school aged kids that formed a club (gang is a little stong, given the initiation they used.) In order to be in the club, you had to steal houseplants, and got points for various types, with hanging baskets being worth the most. An acquaintance went into her garage on a Saturday morning to get the lawnmower out and found over 100 plants in there.

Needless to say, the conversation with her son was well-worded, and his summer did not include time at the pool with his buddies.

dalepetrie's avatar

I don’t really want a gun in my house, as I understand it, gun owners are 26 times more likely to accidentally kill themselves than they are to purposely kill an intruder with that gun. I would however like a taser…I was thinking how much fun it would be to stand there while some dude was forcing in my door, then the second he broke in, aim that sucker square at his nutsack and fire, handcuff him to the banister and then take his wallet to see if he had enough money to pay for the damage to my door before calling the cops, but first asking him if he had any problem with me taking this cash while I had the taser pointed at his face.

Lupin's avatar

@dalepetrie I understand your position and won’t debate it. I’d say the gun topic is probably as contentious as the religion, abortion, politics, discussions. Did I leave out any?
I will say that, clearly, you are a good and decent person. In a conflict you would give the other person a chance and would try to use legal, non-lethal means to protect your home. You would likely be up against a repeat criminal who has the advantages of first strike, most likely physical strength, and no hesitation to use a weapon that he had held many time before.
If you had to bet, who do you think would win? I always want the good guy to come out on top. The 30 sec to 1 minute advanced warning afforded by a silent alarm in your bedroom can help save your life by giving you time to call 911 or .380.
You only get one chance with a taser and you have to be close.

Lupin's avatar

For anyone else still following this thread I should point out that I live in one of the safest towns in the US. Amherst NY was rated the safest city in the US (with populations greater than 75000) for something like 7 years and is always in the top ten.. Greece NY is usually one or two below and once was one better than Amherst. We live in the most rural community in the town and love it – and our neighbors.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

I read somewhere that only 25% of Americans actually own guns, but 75% of those who do, own more than one. You are most likely to own a gun if you are a white, middle-aged male living in a small town or city.

MissAusten's avatar

@PandoraBoxx That described my dad pretty well. White, middle-aged, living in a small town, and keeping an arsenal in his bedroom. I think he was always disappointed that no one tried to break in so he could shoot them. Well, there was that one time he mistook my friends and I coming home late at night for burglers and ran out into the yard in his underwear, carrying a shotgun. He fired it into the air and scared the crap out of us. Then there was that time my best friend and I decided to go skinny dipping in our pond, late at night, and my dad thought we were muskrats and ran down to the pond with a gun. Luckily he took the time to find out it was us before he started shooting. And I look nothing like a muskrat, just to be clear.

Lupin's avatar

I guess you got me pegged. In this area, the number is more like 100%. I do not know of a neighbor that doesn’t have one. The typical progression is a BB gun at 8–10 years old. A .22 at 12–14. A shotgun at 16. Often these are handed down. We gave the Marlin 39 my wife got on her 12th birthday to my son. I still have the Mossberg that I took to high school for the Rifle Team activity. Yes, you read that correctly! We used to take our guns to school – on the school bus – and kept them in our lockers. (1966–1968) They had to be unloaded, and in a zipped case when we were moving. There were never any problems! (The practice ended in 1976 due to the then current political reasons.)

Handgun possession, while absolutely legal here, is considered a “don’t ask, don’t tell” topic. I would never ask a person “How my pistols do you have?” or “Are you carrying?”. Just like I would not ask their salary or frequency of sexual relations. That’s interesting when I think about it.

augustlan's avatar

@PandoraBoxx Yep… that’s my husband. No handguns, but multiple rifles/shotguns. Thankfully, he’s never fired any of them at anything.

Darwin's avatar

@Lupin – Yes, I have motion sensor outdoor lights, but this doesn’t happen at night. It happens during the day.

An electric fence might be handy, but we aren’t allowed fences of any sort in the front yard.

And why would I want pictures of these guys if no law enforcement agency is going to follow up?

Lupin's avatar

Oh my dear @Darwin… I wasn’t talking about using the fence to border your property. I meant for you to run the wire secretly and attach it to a metal portion of whatever they are trying to steal. It will knock them over and, if you bought a good one, leave skin.
The pictures show the police you are supportive and are trying to take back the neighborhood. Pictures can be copied and distributed to all the neighbors. You don’t even have to give your name. A flier in the mail box will do. You can even pretend you are a group and have other supporters. Set up an anonymous email account at and write that on the bottom of the flier. The group can be called something like “Take Back Main St Coalition”. Ask people to send their email address so you have a mailing list and can share info.
A letter to the police chief cc’d the mayor is helpful too. The bad guys have to lose or else they will not stop. They are parasites and you are their food. If they are young it is often some kid in your own neighborhood. Publicizing the issue works.
If nothing stops them now they will continue to get bolder. Don’t expect them to wake up one morning and see the light. You have to hand it to them with a 2×4.
Where’s Clint Eastwood when you need him?

YARNLADY's avatar

@Lupin more great tips

dalepetrie's avatar

@Lupin – I have no qualms about using lethal force about someone breaking into my house…it’s just that the odds of something bad happening to me or someone in my family are far greater if I have a gun than if I don’t, but the odds of someone breaking into my home are the same regardless of whether I have the gun or not. And chances are they wouldn’t break in when I was at home…first thing I’d do in the EXTREMELY unlikely event that someone managed to break into my house while I was home would be to call 9–1-1, there are plenty of cops in my neighborhood and I’m confident they’d be here before anyone could get in AND out with any of my possessions. But I’d certainly try to subdue the person if I could do so safely (get the jump on them) and barring that I’d make sure I could secure myself and family behind a locked door until the cops came. Basically, I just believe as much as I’d like to have that false sense of security that a gun might bring me, I think it would be a net negative thing…and the undeniable statistical facts bear that out. Not syaing you shouldn’t be able to take that risk, just saying if you look into it like I had, and tried to isolate the facts, you’re bound to come away thinking that a gun makes you LESS safe and NOT more. But if you disagree, it’s you’re decision to make.

Lupin's avatar

@dalepetrie You are absolutely making the right decision for your situation. You’ve thought it out and are as prepared as you can be. You have to do what is right for you.
Let’s hope neither of us ever has to do anything we regret.

BorisTS's avatar

@YARNLADY – I agree with you, most people probably shouldn’t own guns. I honestly believe most people are too stupid to own a gun and not end up shooting themselves, and if you believe you fit in that catagory then do us all a favor and hide in your closet. Hide in your closet and hope and pray who ever is breaking into your house doesn’t have a gun, that they only want your possessions and not to hurt your children, and that the police (who apparently are now publicly announcing they don’t care if someone breaks in to your home, and they will only look for them if they harm you or your kids) the police will protect you. If i wanted to gamble, I’d go to Vegas, I will not gamble that the police would ever show up or do anything useful. So please, if you are retarded, do NOT get a gun. As far as your plants and bricks, don’t leave them out, don’t give people the opportunity to steal from you. Maybe YOU should just leave all your valuables on your front lawn so they don’t have to break in to steal your stuff. I guess it’s really what direction you want to go with this. Be a victim… or not.

YARNLADY's avatar

@BorisTS If you are saying you would shoot someone for stealing a brick, you are far, far from agreeing with me.

I have a gun, and I know how to use it, but for safety purposes, I keep the ammunition locked up separate from the gun. I also have a cross-bow, a hunting bow, and a skinning knife, and I know how to use all of them. I would never in a million years consider using them on a person just because he took some plants out of my yard, and I think anyone who does is a criminal.

MJ90's avatar

Surely that isn’t usual unless you’re in a really dodgy area?

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