College students – and many 20-somethings – often find themselves with a roommate or two. While splitting bills and having a fun friend to swap clothes with can be great, it can also be tricky if that $20 bill on top of your dresser is missing. Or the iPod you placed on your bed after a run has mysteriously disappeared. You know you left it there.

Unfortunately, it’s possible to end up with a thief for a roommate. Roommate theft can be tricky if there isn’t any clear-cut evidence or if your roommate is a friend.

What to do if you suspect roommate theft

If you suspect your roommate is stealing from you, here are a few steps you can take:

  • Mention the disappearance. If you suspect your roommate is stealing from you, casually mention that you noticed an item was missing. Then ask if they’ve seen it. Regardless of their answer, they’re now aware you know it’s missing.
  • File a police report. If the missing item or items was expensive, you should definitely file a police report. This also shows that you took reasonable steps to recover your belongings.
  • Calmly confront your roommate once you have evidence. Try to have a low-key conversation when you’re not upset or stressed out. You’ll be able to keep a clearer head and proceed carefully while giving them a chance to be honest. Just know that they may still deny it, even if you present proof.

Unfortunately, it’s possible you won’t get your property back even after taking these steps. If nothing else works to convince your light-fingered roomie, get a lock for your door if you have your own room, buy a safe to keep some of your pricier items in or move out.

Preventing roommate theft

Fortunately, there are things you can do to prevent roommate theft in the first place. They include:

  • Engrave high-value items. Engraving your initials or a personal message on your electronics or other pricier items can make it more difficult for a thief to sell any items, which may deter a thief. It also makes it easier for any items to be returned to you.
  • Have proof of purchase. Keep receipts and/or credit card statements from purchases that were particularly expensive. Product numbers can be used to verify ownership if there’s a dispute.
  • Invest in a safe. They provide safe storage for cash, credit cards, jewelry and more.
  • Leave valuables at your parent’s home if you can. Your roomie can’t steal what’s not there.

Your parents’ or guardians’ homeowners insurance or your own renters insurance policy may reimburse you for any stolen items. Talk with an insurance professional like an Erie Insurance Agent to learn about your coverage options and how they work.