The 10 Best (AND WORST) Places to Hide Valuables in Your Home

Burglary is a crime of opportunity.  And burglars don’t want to spend a lot of time looking through a home to find things of value to steal, which is why there are obvious locations that they always check.  That means that there are ways to outsmart them by hiding your valuables in not-so-obvious places, and sometimes even in plain sight.

Depending on the size and type of item, the best places to hide valuables are those that burglars don’t want to search through or wouldn’t bother with, including places that are inconvenient or difficult to search, messy, or uninteresting.  On average Burglars spend 8-12 minutes inside of a home and they know where to look to make the most of their time.  Here are a few ideas on where to hide your valuables to keep them safe.

Here Are the Top 10:

  1. Dog food bin: If you store your pet food in a large bin, it can double as a handy hiding spot. Wrap up important items and place it at the bottom of the storage bin surrounded by dog food.

  2. A false VHS tape or VHS carton.  Who watches VHS tapes anymore?  Keep them in a stack with lots of others.  A few can be a clue, but many can be a time-consuming distraction.
  3. False containers in the kitchen cupboard, the fridge, under the sink, and in the 51dZsioyuVLbathroom, such as fake food cans and boxes, false cleaning product bottles, and personal hygiene items, and even in a heavy tub of “cat litter.”  Some false containers available on the market today actually look like false containers, so you might want to save yourself the expense and create your own.

  4. In the false bottom or under the plastic liner of a bathroom or kitchen trash can.  No one wants to go pawing through your trash in the slim hope of finding something worth pawning.
  5. Wrapped in plastic and aluminum foil and stored in the back of the freezer.  This is also a good place to store documents and paper currency in case of a house fire.
  6. In a floor safe in the bedroom closet.  While this location may be obvious, a burglar would have to exert a lot of time and energy—and create a lot of noise—trying to break into a floor safe, which is also generally of the heavy variety, making it not only hard to open, but hard to steal whole, if the thief had plans to break into it later.
  7. Inside a house plant.  Using the same method as for trash containers, a plant’s soil can be contained in a waterproof liner that can be lifted up to hide items underneath.  Just make sure the items you’re hiding are in a waterproof container, too.
  8. Inside a false wall outlet.  Make sure it’s not a live receptacle or in the way of any electrical wiring.
  9. Within hollowed-out/removable building components, such as wainscoting, floor panels, door jambs, window sills, and cabinet doors.
  10. In the garage inside boxes marked with mundane labels, such as “Xmas Ornaments,” “Kid’s Clothes,” “School Projects,” etc.  Again, the more boxes you have, the longer the burglar will have to search—if he’s so inclined—to find something worth stealing.

Hiding Places to Avoid:

  1. Areas that can damage your valuables with water or invasive matter, such as the water tank of a toilet, inside a mayonnaise jar that still has mayonnaise in it, or a paint can filled with paint.  There are high-quality waterproof containers on the market that will allow you to hide items in water (and possibly other places), but err on the side of caution.  Documents, jewelry and electronics that become wet or permeated with chemicals or food matter may be damaged beyond repair in your zeal to outsmart a tenacious burglar.
  2. A jewelry box.  This is a good place to store jewelry that you can afford to lose, but not your diamond tennis bracelet or your grandmother’s antique wedding ring.
  3. Your desk drawer, bedside drawer, or underwear drawer.  Too obvious.
  4. Inside CD cases.  It’s true:  burglars still prefer CDs to MP3s.
  5. Inside DVD cases.  DVDs and Xbox-type games are worth between $2 and $10 at pawn and re-sale shops; count on being cleaned out of your collection during a home burglary, regardless of the titles.
  6. A wall safe.  Unless it’s high-end and professionally installed, a wall safe can be dislodged by cutting the drywall seam around it, and wall safes are typically small and light enough to easily transport off site to be opened later.  Opt for the heavier and harder-to-access floor safe.
  7. Inside picture frames with false backs/interiors.  These tend to be thicker than typical picture frames, so they’re easy to spot as a hiding place.
  8. A cookie jar.  Put cookies in it, not your grocery money.
  9. An electrical item or heated area, such as a lamp base, toaster oven, or HVAC duct.  You could accidentally ignite your valuables and put your entire home at risk for a house fire.
  10. Any locked box or locking file cabinet.  A box that has a lock on it will be stolen regardless of what’s inside, and the lock on a file cabinet can be popped out with the right tool and a little effort.

Other Precautions

For valuables that you can’t hide or lock up, such as a flat-screen TV, stereo system, and computers, make sure they’re insured through your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance.  Unless you invest in a home security system (and sometimes even if you do), it’s not possible to protect every item in your home.  But you can take precautions to password-protect and GPS-activate laptops and smartphones so that their recovery is more likely, should they be stolen.

Also, firearms should be properly locked in an approved gun safe that is stored out of reach for the safety of the home’s occupants, as well as to deter theft.

Place a pole in the bottom track of your sliding glass patio doors so that they can’t be forced open wide enough to permit the entry of an intruder.  Install burglar-proof window locks that will allow you to leave your windows open slightly for fresh air, but not wide enough to allow a person to get through.

Remember that burglary is a crime of opportunity, so don’t tempt fate by leaving any exterior doors unlocked (including sliding glass patio doors, and the door between the garage and the living area), hiding a spare house key outdoors (under the “Welcome” mat, a large potted plant, statuary, or a solitary or fake rock), leaving the doors to your attached garage open (even when you’re home), or leaving the curtains or drapes open so that your valuables are in full view of prowlers and passersby.  Your personal safety is at risk as much as your personal property.

Also, don’t over-share personal information with the world by advertising your absence from home on social media.  When leaving on vacation, have a trusted neighbor, friend or family member monitor your home and bring in the newspaper, mail, and random take-out menus hung on your doorknob.  Install light timers indoors and security/motion detectors outdoors to illuminate your property’s exterior.  And go ahead and apply security company stickers to your windows/doors that advertise that your home is professionally protected, even if it’s not.

In short, do what you can to make your home a difficult, inconvenient and time-consuming target that will force a would-be burglar to move on.  And do your part to keep your neighborhood safe by reporting suspicious activity on your street to the police.

Is Your Home Burglar Resistant?

There are a number of measures that homeowners can take to ensure that your homes are not attractive to burglars. If you are are concerned about break-ins, here are some basic strategies for burglar-proofing your home.

Some interesting statistics concerning break-ins in the United States:

  • InterNACHI estimates that theft makes up more than three-quarters of all reported crime.
  • In 2005, law enforcement agencies reported more than 2 million burglary offenses.
    According to a survey, burglars enter homes through the following locations:

-81% enter through the first floor;
-34% of burglars enter through the front door;
-23% enter through a first-floor window;
-22% enter through the back door
-9% enter through the garage;
-4% enter through the basement;
-4% enter through an unlocked entrance;
-2% enter through a storage area; and
-2% enter anywhere on the second floor.

  • Some interesting statistics (2002) concerning break-ins in Canada:
    -The burglary rate in Canada (877 per 100,000 people) is seven times higher than    that of the country with the fewest break-ins, Norway.
    -The burglary rate in Canada is slightly higher than that of the United States (746 per 100,000 people) but significantly less than the burglary rate in Australia (2,275 per 100,000 people).

Exterior Doors

  • Doors should be made of steel or solid-core wood construction. Hollow-core wood doors are more easily broken than heavy, solid-core doors.
  • Doors should be free of signs of rot, cracks and warping.
  • Doors should be protected by quality deadbolt locks. Chain locks are not adequate substitutes for deadbolt locks, although chain locks may be used as additional protection.
  • If a mail slot is present, it should be equipped with a cage or box. Mail slots that are not equipped with cages or boxes have been used by burglars to enter homes. Burglars can insert a contraption made of wire and cord into the mail slot and use it to open the lock from the inside, if no box or cage is present.
  • If a door is equipped with glass panes, they should be installed far from the lock. Otherwise, burglars can smash the glass and reach through the door to unlock the door.
  • Spare keys should not be hidden in obvious locations. Burglars are very good at finding keys that homeowners believe are cleverly hidden. The best place for a spare key is in the house of a trusted neighbor. If keys must be hidden near the door, they should not be placed in obvious locations, such as under a doormat, rock or planter.
  • A peephole can be installed in doors so homeowners can see who is on their doorstep before they open the door.
  • Clients should consider installing bump-resistant locks on their doors. “Bumping” is a technique developed recently that can open almost any standard lock with less effort than is required by lock-picking. This technique uses “bump keys,” which are normal keys with slight modifications. Lock companies such as Schlage, Primus and Medeco manufacture a number of locks that offer some bump-resistance.

Pet Doors

  • Pet doors can be used by burglars to enter homes. Some burglars have reached through pet doors in order to unlock the door. It is advisable to not have a pet door, but if one is necessary, it should be as small as possible and installed far from the lock.
  • A crafty burglar may convince or coerce a small child to crawl through a pet door and unlock the door. Also, some burglars are children.
  • Electronic pet doors are available that open only when the pet, equipped with a signaling device in their collar, approaches the door. These doors are designed to keep stray animals out of the home, and may provide protection against burglars, as well.

Sliding Glass Doors

  • They should be equipped with locks on their tops and bottoms.
    They should not be able to be lifted from their frames.
  • A cut-off broom handle, or a similar device, can be laid into the door track to prevent it from being opened.

Illumination

  • Lights should be installed on the exterior of all four sides of the house. Burglars prefer darkness so they cannot be seen by neighbors or passersby.
    When building occupants are not home, a few lights should be left on.
  • It is helpful to install exterior lights that are activated by motion sensors. Burglars that are suddenly illuminated may flee.

Windows

  • All windows should be composed of strong glass, such as laminated glass, and be in good operating order.
  • They can be installed with bars, grilles, grates or heavy-duty wire screening. Barred windows must be equipped with a quick-release mechanism so occupants can quickly escape during a fire.
  • Windows should not be hidden by landscaping or structures. If landscaping or structures cannot be moved, lighting can be installed around the windows.

Landscaping and Yard

  • Shrubs and trees should not obscure the view of entrances. Shielded entrances can provide cover for burglars while they attempt to enter the residence.
  • Fences are helpful burglar deterrents, although they should not be difficult to see through.

While the house is vacant:

  • A loud radio can be used to make burglars think someone is home. Timers can be used to activate radios and lights to make the home seem occupied.
  • A car should always be parked in the driveway. A neighbor’s car can be parked there so that it appears as if someone is home.
  • The lawn should be cut regularly. Uncut grass is a clue that no one is home.

Other Tips

  • Dogs are excellent burglar deterrents. For clients who cannot own dogs, they can place “Beware of Dog” signs around the yard for nearly the same effect.
  • If no security system is installed, the client can post security alarm stickers around the yard.