For drugs, the word is paraphernalia, but if one uses a gun to rob, or uses bolt cutters to break into a place, is there a general term, legal or otherwise for such objects?

EDIT due to request to use-it-in-a-sentence. "After a search of the premises, police uncovered various illegal items, and many criminal X", where the "criminal X" bit is supposed to imply that the X are not illegal per se, but are commonly used in connection with the commision of a crime. e.g. they found a crack pipe but no crack, a crate of assault rifles but no bodies, a press for printing money but no actual notes, etc etc.

  • 1
    The word paraphernalia has nothing to do with drugs! Yes, it is often used in the phrase drug paraphernalia, but it doesn't mean what you describe and, without context, does not imply any connection to drugs whatsoever.
    – terdon
    Oct 18, 2017 at 14:51
  • 2
    Describe exactly in what context you want to use the word or phrase--generally we want a sample sentence. Specify the criteria you'll use for accepting answers. Detail the research you've already done. List words or phrases you've already considered but rejected, and explain why. Provide information about the connotation, register, and part of speech you are looking for.
    – MetaEd
    Oct 18, 2017 at 15:09
  • incriminating tools seems to be a popular description.
    – Phil Sweet
    Oct 18, 2017 at 23:32

3 Answers 3


Tools of the trade, whereby 'trade' is used facetiously, e.g.

Cat burglar rats out his techniques for police
latimesarticles.latimes.com/2008/aug/13/local/me-thief13 Aug 12, 2008 · Serial burglar Ignacio Pena Del Rio gave up his tools of the trade, and on Tuesday had six months shaved off his prison sentence.Pena Del Rio, known as one ...

As stated by another poster, 'tools'. Also 'items, tools, weapons' that could be used to carry out the imputed crime. The items, unless precisely prescribed by law cannot be termed 'illegal'. Likewise, objects cannot have mens rea, either, so the are simply indications, indirect evidence. Consider:

Burglar Confessions - Tricks of the Trade - Home ... www.securitysearch.co.nz/alarm-systems/burglar-confessions How can burglars outsmart even state-of-the-art home security alarms? What goes on in their minds before a burglary? What tools do they use to break-in?

Home Security - Take A Peek Inside A Burglar's Tool Box ... simplisafe.com/blog/home-security-burglar-tools-break-in Here are some of the common tools you’ll find in a burglars toolbox, provided by SimpliSafe Home Security. What are Burglary Tools? ... A Burglar's Tool Box

Granted, the domain in these latter examples is not juridical.

  • It would be a better answer if you could show an example of such figurative usage.
    – Phil Sweet
    Oct 18, 2017 at 23:25

For burglary specifically, some local/state laws define "burglary tools" as the tools used to help break in.

Other than that, I don't think you'll find a generic term for all kinds of crimes, just use weapon or tool as appropriate.


Paraphernalia simple means

2 :personal belongings

3 a :articles of equipment :furnishings

b :accessory items :appurtenances

I think it applies perfectly well to other illegal (and legal!) activities. "The room was littered with his toymaker's paraphernalia," for example.

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