Using different colors of packing tape, marking boxes with priority numbers, packing cheap belongings on top of more expensive belongings, and making an index of your belongings if you have time will all prevent movers from stealing in one way or another.
Another way that you can make sure your movers do not steal is to treat them very well. Even though you are already paying them, you should still value this relationship that you have developed with them.
Treating your professional movers better than they expect to be treated will give them an incentive to not steal from you. They will be less inclined to steal if they see you as a friend more than another boss that they need to answer to.
Additionally, you do not need to entrust every single thing to your movers – if you have made the decision to hire a professional moving company. You can easily decide to move any belongings or documents that you think are too valuable by yourself.
These are all options that you need to consider when hiring a trusted moving company. In a perfect world, you’d be able to trust anyone with your belongings. However, this clearly isn’t realistic and to be safe, it’s wise to take precautions.
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Do Your Part to Protect Your Belongings
There are several actions that you can take to protect your belongings. While you may need to take some time and do your due diligence to take some of these actions, most of them will require very little effort on your part.
Let’s go through each of these, starting with what would take the least amount of effort.
1. Mark boxes with priority numbers
Doing this is as easy as writing a number on your boxes, sending a direct message to your movers as to what is important and what is not important.
When you combine this with the much longer task of creating an index of all your belongings, this will show your movers that you are monitoring everything that they get their hands on. Ergo, the local or long-distance movers you hired will know that they will not be able to get away with stealing.
2. Use different colors of packing tape
This task requires a little more effort than marking boxes with priority numbers as you are physically sealing boxes yourself instead of letting your movers do it, but it is a relatively effortless way of letting your movers know what belongings are more important than others.
Combined with marking boxes with priority numbers and making an index of your belongings, this is just one more step that you can take when it comes to protecting your belongings.
3. Pack cheaper more replaceable belongings on top
Doing this will actually require a little bit of effort on your part to sort things through before packing, but might pay off. If a potential thief does open the box, they’re likely to think that the whole box contains items of lesser value.
4. Create a full index of your belongings
Creating a full index style checklist of your belongings that you keep for yourself is almost guaranteed to prevent movers from stealing, as it represents a well-documented list of everything that they load into their moving truck.
After the move takes place, check off the belongings of this list. Whatever goes missing gets sent to the moving company. After that, you can take further action from there.
Think of this as a variation of a move-in inspection whenever you move to a different home or apartment. It holds movers liable just like a move-in inspection would hold your property owner or landlord liable for anything they were responsible for.
Treat Your Movers Well
Even though you are already going out of your way to pay your movers to solve the problem of loading (potentially packing) and transporting your belongings for you, do you really think it is a good idea to treat them poorly? No, and treating professional movers poorly is a good way to entice them to steal.
Those who steal usually do so for three reasons; first, they do it out of spite. They feel like they are being taken mistreated, so they respond in kind. If this isn’t the case, they’ll steal just for the sake of it and to see what they can get away with. The final group steals out of desperation. They wouldn’t steal if they had something to lose.
Movers belong almost exclusively to the first group. If they do steal, they do it because they feel like they are mistreated and they know that they might be able to get away with it because they are taking everything you own to a place that is very far away from where they are.
Wouldn’t it make sense that they wouldn’t be so inclined to steal if you treated them well?
This doesn’t mean you need to make significant sacrifices or anything. But doing something small like offering them something to eat or drink while they are moving can and will go a long way when it comes to preventing them from stealing.
Pack Your Most Important Belongings Yourself
Very few moving contracts entail you entrusting every last belonging to your moving team. In nearly all situations, you get to choose what you want to entrust to your movers. Therefore, it makes sense that you should pack all your most important belongings yourself, if you can.
This is a no-brainer when it comes to objects that don’t require big boxes, such as important documents, money, or even certain electronics, such as computers or tablets. Those items might be good to take with you.
Other valuable items might take more thought, though. For example, you can pack silver table settings at the bottom of a box with table linens on the top, but valuable antiques or artwork isn’t so easy. For large, high-value items consider special crating services.
Frequently Asked Questions
What kinds of items do professional movers steal?
If a local mover is inclined to steal any of your possessions, they know that they won’t be able to get away with stealing anything that you’ll notice. They know that you will notice if a big appliance goes missing, but they know that you might not notice if something small but still valuable goes missing. However, cross-country movers may actually steal a big possession of yours if the timing and distance are conducive to it.
Does moving insurance protect against items that get lost or stolen?
The thing with moving insurance is that it doesn’t directly reimburse you for whatever was stolen or lost. Instead, most moving insurance reimburses you indirectly, in terms of value as a dollar amount. However, even this can get complicated as most moving insurance factors in other qualities that make up the value of your belongings, such as weight. Moving insurance does protect against items that get lost or stolen but not completely. Of course, valuable art, antiques or the like can be insured separately.
What happens after I report an item that a professional mover stole from me?
The process of reporting something that a mover has stolen is practically the same as reporting anything else as stolen. You’ll likely need to file a police report and then have law enforcement investigate the moving company itself. This takes a long time and is why you should do all you can to make sure your professional movers won’t steal from you.
The Final Word: Professional Movers Only Steal if You Let Them
It is very true that professional long distance movers very rarely steal, but why leave that to chance when there are precautionary steps to take?
While letting your movers know what is important and what is important by marking your boxes or using different tape on your boxes sounds counterproductive, it will show movers that you know what they might steal. This will reduce their incentive to steal.
A movers’ incentive to steal will practically vanish if you have taken the time to create a full index of every last thing that they have come across.
Treating your movers well and refusing the temptation to constantly complain and act like their boss by trying to micromanage every move and not respecting their knowledge and skills, will not only create a better relationship between yourself and your movers but it will also greatly reduce their incentive to steal.
And finally, you do not need to entrust all of your belongings to your movers. Moving your most important belongings yourself can eliminate a lot of stress for both parties.
After taking these precautions, making sure your movers won’t steal is really only a matter of whether you have let them steal or not.