My friend’s house was broken into last month. Luckily, they’d been out of town visiting their family over the holidays, so they didn’t have the risk of coming face-to-face with the intruders (though let’s be honest, sometimes you do wish for a situation like this). But coming home to see the broken windows, tossed furniture and complete mess the burglars left their house in, you can imagine the rush of emotions they felt. Frustration, rage, and of course, a complete and utter disbelief that this happened to them.
The trouble is, burglaries like this are becoming increasingly common. The pandemic has left more and more people out of work, and when times get tough it’s no wonder there’s been a spike in crime. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and while there’s many things you can do to fortify your home, you can’t simply hide all your valuables in a safe either. The criminals who broke into my friend’s home drilled out the lock on his safe and relieved him of everything inside. It was a big shock to him, and yet it’s one of the reasons why I only keep a handful of things in my safe. The rest are hidden throughout my home.
Don’t hide valuables in these places
Now before we get into the details, I want to warn you that your current hiding places are not good enough. Whoever comes into your home will know to check the master bedroom first, and the valuables you’ve stashed away will be gone.
Don’t hide anything of value in:
- Dresser or closet drawers
- The top shelf of your closet
- Underneath your mattress
- A safe that’s not secured
- Bathroom medicine cabinets
- Inside kids closets (too obvious)
- Areas that may get water damage
- Lock boxes or locked filing cabinets
- Inside DVD or CD cases
And of course, anywhere else that’s just too obvious. With enough time, thieves will turn over everything in your home looking for “the stash” they believe you’ve got, and yes, that includes common hiding places like your freezer, or taped underneath a drawer. The trick is to think creatively, and make modifications to small parts of your home where a thief would never even think to look.
Create a “fake” stash
The first thing you should do is to put together a fake stash to deter a thief from looking too deep in their search. If they come across something they believe valuable in the first few minutes, and time is a crunch, they might decide that’s a big enough score and leave the rest of your home untouched. I’ve got a cigar box in my sock drawer for this express purpose, filled with a few hundred dollars in cash, a couple of old watches, a fake diamond necklace, and a few other bits and pieces that at a quick glance looks a good score.
Right, now onto the real stashes…
Dummy plumbing pipes
In our basement ceiling there’s a row of PVC pipes, some that come to an end with a screw on cap. I installed another bit of pipe there, and it blends in perfectly. All you need to do is unscrew the end and it’s a neat little hiding place, one a thief is not likely to go looking in (especially if it’s labelled septic or something equally disgusting).
Fake mayonnaise jar
Good thieves know all the tricks, like hiding things in your freezer and they’ll often toss everything out as they look. But one that may skirt their notice is taking an empty jar of mayonnaise and giving it a coat of white paint. Store anything you like inside once it’s dried, and with the cap on no one will even think to open it and check inside.
Inside air vents
Most thieves won’t have time to unscrew and check inside the vents in your home, so you’ll get away with this hiding place unless you’ve left scuff marks that indicate it’s been opened and closed several times. I’ve taped a stash of cash to the inside of the wall behind one vent, so unless they stick their head in once they’ve opened it, they’ll never know it’s there.
False wall outlets
When we remodeled our home, one of the things we did was to create a few “false” wall outlets that aren’t connected to any power, but when unscrewed open up to leave an open area about the size of a tissue box. Perfect for any valuables that you don’t need to access regularly, like a wad of cash you won’t be needing day to day.
Between your cabinets
I noticed this space when I was painting our kitchen, as there’s about a half-inch gap between the cabinets in our kitchen. You can only notice this if you’re looking down on them from above. Using a waterproof folder (I was worried for cooking steam), and a couple of binder clips that won’t fall in the gap, another stash of cash hangs in the hidden gap.
Inside curtain rails
One of the last places anyone would think to look is inside the curtain rod. Most thieves will leave the blinds shut so they have complete privacy as they rob you, so they are very unlikely to mess around. Ours are about an inch diameter, and the ends unscrew. Rolls of cash, and other items fit easily inside, and are very unlikely to ever be found.
Just make sure that no matter where you’ve hidden everything, you’ve left clear directions for your family to find it in case you’re not around to retrieve it all. It might seem a little macabre, but if something does happen to you, it’s important your family doesn’t have to go without. Like the stash hiding inside the clock in my study, or the hollowed out dictionary in our spare room.
But hide this map well, if it were ever to fall into the wrong hands it’s the perfect set of directions to all of your other valuables.