Not everyone realizes that hiding valuables is a good idea. Rebecca Jessup* has all her grandmother’s jewelry in a small velvet bag in her dresser. Travis Larimore* keeps his late father’s Purple Heart and other medals in a box on his desk.
These precious, irreplaceable heirlooms are vulnerable like few other items either of them own. Both Rebecca and Travis are homeowners; their houses and the contents are insured with functioning home security systems in place.
So, why would these sentimental treasures be at such risk? Even if the pieces have more personal emotional meaning than monetary value, no burglar, worth his balaclava is going to hang around cherry-picking the highest value booty. Hiding valuables away keeps them out of sight and hopefully out of some crooks’ haul.
Career burglars have simple requirements, speedy in, speedy out, with plenty of portable goodies quickly converted into cash or even the cash itself. Money, jewellery and smaller electronics are the optimal prizes for most of these culprits, since small to pocket and carry is what they want.
The best deterrent by far is a visible security alarm system but even the best system cannot guarantee that you’ll never endure a break-in. And there are many reasons that people have valuables in their homes. After all, it’s your home; where else would you take the necklace your Mom gave you on Thanksgiving?
Hidden Safes and Cabinets
A burglar-proof safe actually doesn’t exist. Any safe can be removed from a home and broken into at the thief’s leisure so always be sure the safe or cabinet is bolted in. Where you keep your safe is as important as the actual safe itself. Sometimes a simple concealed cabinet will do the trick as long as criminals can’t find it.
The burglar’s mission is getting in and out as fast as he can. Hiding valuables behind a prominent picture seems like an old cliché but if lots of items are grouped together, checking them all becomes a time problem. Crooks are unlikely to spend precious minutes looking behind every photograph, artwork or mirror in your home.
Hiding valuables behind pool cues, dart boards, hutches, armoires or other big, heavy pieces of furniture works as long as the object is difficult to move. Large bookcases make for great hiding places, assuming they actually contain books.
Forget the usual locations like the master bedroom closet. The first place burglars will look is the master bedroom; it’s generally where jewelry, cash and security safes are situated. Other areas like living rooms and home offices will be targeted next for electronics and identity information.
Think through places like bathrooms, the kitchen, hallways, mudrooms, and the laundry room. Spend some time considering the location from every point of view. The longer it takes to find a good place to hide your valuables, the longer it will take a burglar to look for them.
What about under the couch, the bed, or the coffee table? How about in the floor – if you are handy at DIY, lifting a small section of floorboards (in an inconspicuous area) could be a good place to hide jewelry, coins and other valuables. Hide the floorboards from view with rugs and furniture to make them impossible to see.
Distractions and Decoys
Often the best place for hiding valuables is out in plain sight. A friend recollects thieves broke into her parents’ home and stole her mom’s jewelry box off the dressing table. While there were a few valuable pieces in it, the real treasure was inside the beat-up, old metal box standing right next to it. That old box was solid, sterling silver and contained several thousand dollars’ worth of vintage jewelry. Why was it left? The box was terribly tarnished and looked just like an old tin.
With the average burglar taking just a few minutes inside a home or apartment, hiding valuables in unusual spots around the house can save items of personal value.
Small safe storage for hiding valuables can be disguised as a book, hidden in a pile of other hardbound copies.
One of your clocks could actually be a safe… You can buy various types of decoy safes and they are a good way of storing precious items and smaller sums of money.
Other Storage for Valuables
Install a faux air vent storage unit near the ceiling in a hallway or bathroom and it’s very likely to escape the attention of burglars.
Use pantry items and cleaning supplies, or rather use the old container – clean out the inside but leave the outside (looking old and tired) and hide it in with the other stuff.
Get an old, cheapie vacuum cleaner at a yard sale or flea market. One of the older outdated canister-style vacuum cleaners can easily be converted into a storage compartment. And late 70’s and 80’s models are likely to be passed over by burglars as of no real value.
Make a Decoy
So far, we’ve looked at camouflaging your valuables but you could also distract burglars by leaving out a decoy. Put a (fake) jewelry box on your bedroom dresser or in your sock drawer that contains some cash, some fake gold and zirconia jewelry and a key marked, “safety-deposit box”. Hide your valuables somewhere else. Although you could lose the box and all its “valuables” the illusion will have been successful and your precious items will have gone undetected.
*names have been changed