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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Keeping Your Valuables Safe, Part 3

This is the next installment in this series. Today, we're talking about hiding places and safes. You need ... something. Think about it this way: you've taken the time and money to collect something of value: gold coins, stacks of negotiable cash, jewelry, etc. Now you need to protect them.


Most burglars will spend LESS THAN 6 MINUTES in your home. They only have time to search some of the "usual" places. They'll look in jewelry boxes, sock drawers, under the bed, and in the freezer. They head straight for the bedrooms because they know most people tuck away money, jewelry, and other items of value beneath lingerie, socks, and other top-drawer clothing. Next they head for the kitchen cabinets and drawers.

You can find a small fire-proof safe at almost any local general store, like Wal-Mart or a home improvement store. I have a small one that usually is kept in our safe-room, and holds safe a few things that I really don't want to do without, including my son's birth certificate and a cameo pin that my grandmother left me when she passed. But even a small safe is hard to effectively hide. Basically, if someone sees a safe, it screams "I have valuables - take me with you!" Hiding Places for a small safe could include:
  • your crawl space
  • the floor of your closet with lots of junk and boxes blocking it from view
  • cover with boxes of Christmas ornaments on top, or buckets of bolts and nuts and screws on top

Don't want a safe? Some police recommend that you hide your valuables right in plain sight! Here are some examples:

  • a false back or bottom to a drawer, especially taped to the bottom of the BOTTOM dresser drawer
  • a phony "book" safe - only if you actually have other books that match!
  • place your small valuables in a baggie or seal-a-meal, place it in a large popcorn tin, then fill the tin with unpopped popcorn kernels
  • same principle - place your valuables in a well-sealed baggie or ten, place in an empty powdered detergent box, and top/hide with powdered laundry detergent. Don't fill it all the way, leave the scoop in there, and don't use for your actual laundry needs.
  • behind the grate at the bottom of your refrigerator (if you have one)
  • a water bottle
  • an insulated coffee mug (kept in the kitchen)
  • working wall-clock safe
  • soda or power-drink can (empty, clean, remove bottom, fill, replace bottom, and keep with similar items where it won't look out of place)
  • ditto with a peanut butter plastic jar, canned fruit, pringles can, etc.
  • underside of trash cans
  • hollow out the bottom/inside of a large candle - the size of a baby-food jar. Place your valuables in the jar, screw on the lid, and stick into the bottom of the candle. Keep it on your coffee table on a decorative stand or plate, and light from time to time. Be careful to not let it burn too far down or you'll reveal your hiding place!
  • paint can - who's going to open up a paint can with splatters to see if it has paint or coins?
  • toys in a young child's room - with all of the stuff in a child's room, it would be difficult to do a quick search in such a room.

Don't use these places:

  • something taped to the back of a picture - too obvious!
  • the fake frozen dinner or ice-trays
If you can afford a really big safe, locate it in a permanent place and bolt it to the floor from the inside, and/or surround it with concrete. Consider using a fake front for it.

Note: You need to understand that there are very few places that a burglar WON'T find your stash. A burglar has two motivations: (1) to steal as much as possible, and (2) to do it and get out as quickly as possible. If a burglar can't find something quickly, he will begin to tear apart the house to find something... anything! Leave a decoy little stash of cash in a top dresser drawer or in the freezer where it can be easily found and taken, leaving the rest to hide another day.

Another way to decoy is leave an envelope in a drawer near your computer marked "“Bank Safe Deposit Box” on the outside and with a list of items on the inside. This will tip off the burglar that your most valuable items are stored at the bank and will discourage him from tearing up your house looking for them.

Make sure another adult knows where you've hidden the valuables.

More coming...


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