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Why Thieves Now Want To Steal Your Identity More Than Your TV

IDs, passports and personal items are now the most stolen items from Australian households -- as thieves look to steal identities, not just money.

According to new statistics from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, nearly 29 percent of all robberies between 2017 and 2018 included theft of ID, passports and other personal items. Money, wallets and purses closely followed, with nearly 20 percent of all robbers stealing cash.

On the other end of the spectrum sits audio visual equipment, including televisions, stereos and speakers. Just six percent of all thefts included the loss of these items.

The growing attraction towards identity documents demonstrates a trend where criminals are gravitating toward identity theft.

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Items stolen during property robberies. First column: number of thefts.  Second column: percentage of thefts. Image: Australian Bureau of Statistics

"Identity crime has been on the rise in recent years and so the nature of these crimes has changed what they [thieves] steal," Dr Rick Brown, deputy director of the Australian Institute of Criminology, told 10 daily.

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The types of crime committed change over time, with the type and the way offences are committed evolving just as our world does.

Thieves want your identity above anything else. Image: Getty Images.

"I think it is a mix of social, technological and security change. The items we have in our properties are changing," Brown said .

"Our houses haven't got the kinds of disposable commodities that we once had in terms of having stereo systems and televisions and music devices. [These] were popular burglary items once, but now we have all that in our pocket."

For this reason, the traditional television theft is becoming rarer. In fact, the amount of property crime has decreased dramatically in the last decade.

"In the last 10 to 15 years, there's been an unprecedented decline, and burglary is a crime that has plateaued in the last few years," Brown said.

Brown attributes this to factors including the value society places on certain items -- claiming there is far more value in stealing someone's money or identity than a physical item nowadays.

Robbery
The traditional TV theft is very rare. Image: Getty Images.

"The markets have changed, consumers are looking for goods that are cheaper so it's just more difficult to sell the items you've stolen," Brown said.

There are some easy things people can do to stay protected from identity theft. These include ensuring security settings and social media passwords are strong.

It's also recommended to regularly check accounts and bank statements for unusual activity, as well as to only access personal information on secure computers and through secure wi-fi.

All these measures can make it harder for a thief to steal your identity and passwords -- and keep your money, documents and possessions safer.

Featured Image: Getty Images.

Contact Siobhan at skenna@networkten.com.au.