It’s a sad fact that, anytime you leave your home, there’s a chance someone will pay an unwanted visit while you’re gone. Burglary is the third most common crime in the US. Every year there are about 2.5 million burglaries in this country – one every 26 seconds, on average.
Worse, if a thief gets into your home and takes your stuff there isn’t much chance of you ever getting it back. Just 13% of burglaries are ever solved, and even if police catch the thief there’s a good chance he’ll already have sold your belongings.
You can’t rely on the law to protect your property from thieves; you need to do it yourself.
The first line of defense against burglary is making your home a hard target, but that isn’t guaranteed to work.
Most thieves will be put off by a well-secured house, and go looking for an easier victim, but a determined few will be curious about why you have such good security, and try to find out. They might succeed, so your fallback option is to make it hard for them to find the things they want to steal.
Preppers tend to have a lot of stuff that can’t be easily hidden. Can you stop a burglar finding six months’ worth of canned food and a chicken coop? Not really – but then, those aren’t the sort of things a burglar wants to steal anyway.
No, what you need to protect are small valuables. Cash, jewelry, important documents like your passport and property deeds, small electronic devices and prescription drugs are among the most commonly stolen items, and they’re all small enough to be hidden.
The question is, where? After all it’s not like burglars don’t have some experience searching homes for concealed valuables. The good news is there are some places they’re unlikely to check. Here are some secret hiding places that maximize the chances of escaping a thief’s sticky fingers.
If you’re going away for awhile and want to hide small items, protect them inside a plastic bag then bury it in the soil of a plant pot. Just make sure to press the soil down again then water the plant; that will hide the fact you’ve been digging in there.
Don’t take the easy option and hide things inside vases. These are quick and simple to check, and when a burglar doesn’t find your jewelry lying on the dresser he’s going to look in your vases.
Three feet of ordinary one-inch PVC pipe can hold a surprising amount of stuff – and if you put it in the right place, a burglar is never going to check it.
If you can do basic plumbing work you could easily add dummy pipes under the kitchen sink, but even a length of pipe running across the top of a store cupboard, just below the ceiling, makes a good hiding place.
Chisel a couple of recesses into the walls on either side of the cupboard then just wedge the pipe into them. Painting the pipe and recesses to match the interior of the cupboard will perfect the disguise.
Do you have an old vacuum cleaner that doesn’t work anymore? Convert it into a hiding place for your valuables.
The hardcore option is to wrap up small items and bury them in the old dust inside the bag, but simply removing the bag will give you a hidden storage space most thieves won’t bother checking.
Remember to put the vacuum cleaner in a natural location. Don’t put it in the cleaning closet beside your new one; a smart burglar might start wondering why you have two.
On the other hand, if the new one is downstairs you could put the old one upstairs; that looks natural. Alternatively, how many burglars are going to pay attention to a sad old vacuum cleaner tucked away in a corner of a shed or garage?
If you don’t have an old vacuum cleaner, don’t worry. A range of small kitchen appliances can easily have their innards removed and be converted into secret storage.
Fake Power Outlets
If you look on Amazon you can easily find small wall safes disguised to look like power outlets. These can work for you, but their disguise isn’t always all that good.
The “screw heads” that are supposed to be holding it to the wall are just molded into the plastic, and an alert thief could spot that.
If you’re reasonably handy you can easily make a hidden compartment using a real power outlet as a cover. As an extra disguise plug a lamp into it. After all, it’s not like a burglar will be turning on lamps.
You can buy boxes designed to look like books, but generally they don’t look much like books.
Instead get a phone book – they’re still available in most places – and spend half an hour turning it into a box with a sharp knife and some glue (cut out a cavity in the middle of the pages, then smear the inside with glue and let it dry).
Then hide your valuables inside it and leave it somewhere semi-obvious. A smart thief might just check the larger books in your den, but will he bother with the phone book on the bottom shelf of the coffee table?
There’s something peculiarly unpleasant about a pair of old, worn, ratty-looking sneakers.
You don’t want to get too near them, because even if they’re not actually stinking they’ll have a tired, musty smell. Touching them makes you want to wipe your hand, and wash it as soon as possible.
Burglars won’t be in a hurry to rummage around inside the horrible, smelly things – so wrap up small valuables and stuff them inside the toes.
Just make sure they don’t visibly deform the shoes. For extra protection give the sole of one of the shoes a smear of something that might be mud, or might be something the dog left lying around…
A stack of storage boxes in a shed, garage or spare room isn’t a promising target for a burglar. They don’t want to spend hours opening boxes and rummaging through their contents; they’re keen to grab valuables and get out in a hurry.
Trick them by hiding your valuables inside a storage box. Neatly packed boxes, marked with the room their contents belong in, suggest the sort of tidy mind that isn’t going to hide a bundle of cash inside a teapot in a box marked “Kitchen”.
Alternatively, a pile of boxes crammed with a mixture of junk only a packrat could love isn’t a very appealing thing to search. Be creative.
Try walking through your home and looking at things through a burglar’s eyes. Where would you check first? What are the obvious places to hide valuables?
Well, those are terrible places to hide valuables. Now think of where you’d check to see if someone is being clever. How about inside the refrigerator and freezer? Burglars will check there.
They’ll have a look inside the microwave, too (but won’t take the back panel off to make sure all its internal components are still there).
They’ll look in places that stand out, so you should hide your valuables in places that don’t stand out – places that look dull, ordinary, uninteresting. Do that and there’s a much better chance of a thief walking away empty-handed.
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