Solution: I Spy
Written by Ethan
We are given a bunch of images inside a grid of red herrings. The first step is to identify the images, though at first, this may seem impossible as many images are vague and could have multiple answers.
However, one may notice that pairs of images that represent different meanings of the same words -- one intended break-in was WIND (as in the weather) and WIND (as in wind-up toy) or DOVE (as in the bird) or DOVE (as in the action of diving). These words are also called heteronyms: spelled identically, but have different meanings and different pronounciations.
Once you identify all the images, you can start to fill a grid of the words, where the start/end of each word is at the two images. Most words are entered normally (i.e. top to bottom or left to right), but some words are entered backwards, indicated by the images that are flipped. Extract the answer by reading the intersection points left to right like a book, spelling INFRAREDJEWEL.
The word list I had was barely big enough to create this grid. Ideally, I wouldn't have any words going backwards but unfortunately
it was inevitable. Thank you to UMD Puzzle Club for giving me the idea of rotating images that were entered backwards.
Some of the images are also pretty bad ("subjected to his will", "object"), but at least
the puzzle is still solvable without these clues.
The answer is kind of green paint but I didn't have many other options due to meta and word list constraints.