I had a cousin who was the worst hider in the history of the world.
I loved playing hide-and-seek with him when we were kids because I knew I could find him very quickly. And I might as well have taken a book along with me when I went to hide because he was equally bad at finding kids who were hiding.
But as adults, some of us apparently did not learn much from that childhood game because we continue to hide cash and other valuables in places so obvious that even my cousin could find them.
Let’s take a look at some of those lousy hiding places before we examine some good ones.
- Sock drawers. Very possibly the dumbest place to hide something. You might as well mail money in advance to the burglar.
- Back of a wardrobe closet. Unless you live in Narnia, not a good idea.
- Inside a shoebox. Seriously?
- Inside a soup can that’s sitting on a bedroom dresser. Right item, wrong location.
- Inside a laptop. Any pride you feel at successfully opening up a laptop and hiding cash in it will dissipate quickly after you realize your laptop was stolen. And – newsflash – the laptop is something you should be hiding.
- Medicine cabinet, clothes pockets, briefcase and underneath a mattress. All bad ideas.
OK, enough of the not-so-good places to hide valuables. Here are some that work well. But first a brief anecdote from my childhood.
I remember one time playing hide-and-seek as a kid with my older brother at home. While I was hiding under a pile of clothes in an upstairs bedroom, I heard him looking for me in the bathroom before he went to inspect the downstairs rooms. After he went downstairs, I quickly and quietly moved to the bathroom and hid in there, knowing he wouldn’t come back to look for me in the same place he’d already looked.
After searching everywhere – including my original hiding place under the pile of clothes in the bedroom – my brother shouted out that he was giving up. I proudly emerged from the bathroom with a big smile on my face and basked in the glory of my victory while he scratched his head in confusion.
There is a lesson to be learned here. If you want to hide something in your home and increase the likelihood that it will not be found by a burglar, hide it where you think they won’t look!
Whether it’s cash, important documents, weapons, jewelry or anything else you value most in your home, hide it so well that an invader might be looking directly at the container in which it’s hidden and not even consider trying to find it there. Here are some examples:
One of my favorite places to hide small items such as cash and jewelry is in a can of soup. Open the can from the bottom, enjoy the soup, rinse out the can thoroughly, put your items in the can, replace the can bottom, and place the can at the bottom of a stack of other canned goods. Even if the burglar goes to the trouble of looking at the cans, he’ll notice that the top is still on that particular can.
Above many kitchen cabinets is a walled-in area called a bulkhead. If you remove one or more of the wall cabinets, you can cut an opening and hide items in an area that’s likely to be about 12 inches high, 10 inches deep and as long as the cabinets.
You’ve heard of cold, hard cash, right? Well, that’s what you’ll have if you put your cash in a zip-top bag, put two pieces of Styrofoam around it (such as what steaks are packaged in) and then wrap the whole thing in aluminum foil and place it in your freezer.
Do you have any plants near your kitchen window? Perhaps they’d like an imaginary friend. Add a fake plant to the group and bury cash in a zip-top bag in the fake soil.
Family Room Fun
Picture this. Sandwich your cash or another thin valuable between two pieces of cardboard backing within a difficult-to-reach picture frame. Even if the thief pulls the frame from the wall and looks at the back of it, he’s unlikely to rip out the cardboard to examine it further.
Select the one or two heaviest objects in your house, such as an entertainment center or a piano, and place cash in an envelope under it. It’s unlikely a burglar will expend enough energy to try to move those huge items.
If you have books in your family room, there has to be at least one that you know you will never read. Hollow out most of the pages of the book and place cash or jewelry in it.
If you have children, grab a toy that they never play with anymore and hide cash inside it before relegating it to the far reaches of their closet or the bottom of the toy box. Burglars can’t afford the time to look inside every toy even if they wanted to. Another option is inside an old coloring book that your kids never use anymore.
Is it Safe?
If you keep a safe at home, a burglar will certainly give it his attention. At the very least, make sure it’s bolted to the floor so that they can’t carry it off.
Bank on It
Keep a sealed envelope in a drawer near your computer that’s marked “Bank Safe Deposit Box.” Inside – where the thief is sure to look after ripping open the envelope – is your fake list of jewelry items, personal documents, etc. If the burglar believes your jewelry is in the bank, he might give up looking for it more quickly.
The Old New Jewelry Box Trick
If you’re old enough to remember watching the TV show, Get Smart, try to “hear” Maxwell Smart saying, “I should have known it. The old fake jewelry in the new jewelry box trick.” Most burglars want to spend as little time in your house as possible, but they also want to get what they came for. If you have a new jewelry box in a sock in one of your dresser drawers that contains a small amount of cash, some real-looking fake jewelry and perhaps a key that doesn’t open anything, the burglar may believe he’s found your most prized possessions. If so, he might leave before tearing your house apart looking for those types of things, which in the long run will probably cost you more than what they manage to steal.
Think Outside the House
Another option for hiding your valuables from would-be thieves is by burying them in your backyard. This might be especially true for weapons beyond any that you want to keep inside your house. Guns, for instance, can be hidden in large-diameter PVC pipes, along with grease to prevent rust and coffee to keep residual moisture off them. If you think that someone might use a metal detector to try to figure out where your guns are buried, bury some old cans here and there to slow down their search.
Downsides to Hiding
You could select the greatest hiding places in the world, but your efforts will have gone for naught if you forget where you put them. One option is to keep a list of those items and their hiding places, but make sure the list doesn’t get found.
Another problem would occur if a family member throws away your great hiding place, thinking it’s trash. Make sure other family members know where these items are as well.