Covert Home Caches
Passports, jewelry, cash, and other important valuables are typically kept at home, perhaps tucked into a bedside table drawer or in a small safe. While items may be protected in a locked safe, a safe can be easy to find and it’s often possible to break into a password-protected or key-operated safe—one that thieves can easily take with them. Rather than stashing important stuff where burglars expect to find it, consider using these commonplace spaces and items to hide your valuables.
1. Suitcase Safe
Keeping important items and documents secure inside a water- and fire-resistant safe is a good idea, but small home safes can become a primary target for savvy thieves. They are often light enough to simply be picked up and carried off. To help protect valuables from thieves without sacrificing the fire resistance afforded by a home safe, consider storing valuables in the safe and keeping the safe inside empty luggage to conceal it.
RELATED: Buyer's Guide: The Best Home Safes
2. Kitchen Cabinets
Certain kinds of valuables, like passports and your last will and testament, may go untouched for weeks, months, or even years, which is why it makes sense to choose an out-of-the-way place to store these important possessions. One such smart spot is on top of the kitchen cabinets. If your cabinets do not go all the way to the ceiling, climb a ladder and investigate whether there's room between the ceiling and the tops of hanging cabinets. If there is, you're in business!
Put your valuables in a manila folder and secure the envelope with a pair of broad binder clips so that it doesn't slide all the way into the gap (you can also fasten a string to the envelope, which can pull and easily retrieve it). Finally, slide the envelope into the gap.
Hiding valuables inside a drawer isn’t likely going to protect them from a determined thief. Instead, take advantage of the gap behind a drawer—how many thieves are going to take the time to pull drawers off their tracks and out of of your cabinets? It's easy to secure an envelope filled with important documents, cash, or other valuables to the back of the drawer with tape.
If the drawer pulls out too easily and will easily expose the concealed envelope, attach the envelope to the underside of the countertop, dresser, or bedside table. Even if the drawers are pulled out, the envelope will remain fastened to the furniture, and out of sight.
4. Wall Decor
Picture frames, paintings, mirrors, and more that decorate the walls throughout a home offer another opportunity to hide valuables. With a bit of tape and an envelope, any wall hanging can be used to secretly store important valuables.
While almost any framed wall element can help conceal items, a deep wooden frame offers a more advanced bit of subterfuge. Neatly cut the paper backing and slide cash or prized items into the narrow gap between the painting and the frame backing. If the items are thin enough, they may even fit between a picture and the backing. Any would-be thieves would have to choose the right picture and remove the dust cover on the picture frame to find the stashed cash or other valuables.
RELATED: Buyer's Guide: The Best Places to Buy Picture Frames
5. False Books and Cans
Creating secret storage spots out of common household items is a strategy that has worked for generations. If you have a few shelves of books inside the home, consider hollowing out a book to make a small storage compartment inside the pages, so that it looks like any other book—unless someone pulls it from the shelf and opens it.
Another clever storage spot is a clean, empty can. Using a smooth-edge can opener, open the top of the can so it fits back in place after opening. Fill the can with valuables, replace the top, and store it with the other other canned foods in the pantry.
6. Out-Of-Season Clothing
When someone breaks into a home looking for valuables, it isn’t likely that they will be tearing through coats, sweaters, and other clothing hanging in the closet. For this reason, the pockets of jackets make good hiding places for envelope-sized valuables. (You may want to switch the hiding spot when the seasons change, storing items in winter clothing during the summer months and summer clothing in the winter months.) It's a bonus if you have clothing items that have hidden pockets that can further conceal your valuables.
Frozen pizzas, leftovers, and frozen treats keep many freezers tightly packed and conveniently crowded. One more container in the freezer isn’t typically going to draw the attention of would-be thieves, making it a great place to keep cash and other valuables. Just make sure that the container and the contents are freezer-safe to prevent damaging your important items.
8. Tennis or Soccer Ball
Just as you'd hollow out a book or make use of an empty can, it's easy to modify sporting gear in order to create a secret storage spot. Who'd think you'd keep your cash inside your kid's baseball glove, or inside sports balls? Tennis balls can retain their shape after being cut, so they don’t look out of the ordinary with a slit halfway through the ball. This opening is wide enough to store a roll of cash or small valuables like earrings or a ring.
If your valuables are on the larger side, consider using a soccer ball. Just cut along one seam on the ball to create an opening that’s big enough to slide in your valuables. Cutting along the seam conceals the opening, so the average person isn’t likely to notice anything wrong with the ball at a glance.
9. Drop Ceilings
Drop ceilings are common in finished basements, laundry rooms, and utility rooms and can also serve as a concealed storage location for important, lightweight items. A dropped ceiling consists of panels that are supported by narrow metal frames. Simply lift a panel to access the hollow space above the ceiling where a lightweight package, like an envelope, bag, or even a small box can be kept out of sight. Of course, you'll want to note which panel is hiding your items so you can retrieve them quickly when need be.
Before you scheme up ways to store your iron safe or gold bullion overhead, think again—heavy items may fall through the ceiling (and hurt anyone who happens to be underneath them). Keep it light up there!
10. False Air Vent
Though you probably have a number of functioning air vents around your home, it isn’t a good idea to store valuable items in them because you can block air flow into the home, reducing the efficiency of your heating and cooling system. Instead, consider installing a spare vent cover (or installing a false air vent) over an opening in the wall where you can store valuables. Not many thieves are going to take the time to unscrew and check all of the air vents throughout your home.
11. Wall or Mantel Clock
Clocks are an excellent option for storing small, valuable items. Most mantel or wall clocks have open cavities in the back or in the base, where a few small items can be kept safe. If your clock doesn’t have an open cavity, simply tape the items to the back of the clock and hang it back on the wall. As long as the clock itself isn’t worth stealing, your items should be safe in case of a break in.
Another spot where burglars are unlikely to look for small valuables is inside pillows or couch cushions. Tuck flat valuables inside zippered cushion covers or, if your pillows don’t have zippers, just cut an opening at the seam. Stitch a zipper onto the pillow, take out some stuffing, store your valuables, and zip up the pillow. (You should probably choose a pillow that is not frequently used, lest a visiting great aunt slumber upon stacks of cash.)
13. Old Vacuum Cleaner
Instead of throwing out your old, canister vacuum cleaner when you upgrade to a new model, consider using it as a storage space for your valuables. After cleaning the inside of the canister thoroughly, hide your valuables inside. Keep the old vacuum in the basement or closet along with your other cleaning supplies so that it escapes thieves' notice.
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