I had quite the interesting conversation this weekend with a person who happened to be a former burglar. It was great timing because I was wondering if something like the skid mark underwear for hiding money would really work. I also figured that if you wanted to know the best place to hide your money from a burglar, a former burglar was the person to ask.
I started off simply and was not surprised by the answer to the question “where is the best place to hide your money?”
“At the bank,” he said with a sly grin
When I rephrased and asked where the best place to hide money and valuables in the house would be if you had such items there, I was taken a bit by surprise by his answer:
“It doesn’t matter how clever you think you are or where you hide it in your house, if I have enough time, I would be able to find where you stash your valuables,” he said bluntly. He then explained that what was much more important than the actual place where you hide your valuables is that you understand a burglar’s motivations. Basically, he has two:
1. To steal your money and valuables
2. To get out of the house as quickly as possible with these goods
When you begin to think of it from this perspective, how you should hide your money changes a bit. Obviously, you don’t want to leave all your money in the places where the burglar will first look: dresser drawers, drawers by phones, desks, closets, a safe (if not bolted down), boxes, jewelry boxes, purse, etc.). That being said, you also don’t want to hide all of your money too well for the following reason:
“If I can’t find money and valuables in the normal places I usually find them, I would continue to tear the house apart until I found something. Remember, the first rule is to to steal money and valuables. We’ll keep looking until we find something.”
Your best strategy, then, is to actually leave some money in obvious places for the burglar to quickly find (the same applies if you keep all your money in the bank). This can not only save your other stash of money, but may actually keep the burglar from destroying your place as he looks for where you have hidden your money. If they believe they may have found the cash that you have in the house, they are much less likely to keep looking (remember, they want to get out asap). In the end, if you hide all your money well, you may win a moral victory in not letting the burglar find the money, but you’ll likely have much more damage done to your place that will end up costing you more in the long run.
The next obvious question was “How much money should you leave for the burglar to find?”
“It depends on the area where you live. If you are in a upscale community and only leave $100, I would assume there is more and keep looking. In a different part of town $100 would convince me I found all the money that was there and leave.”
When it comes to hiding valuables, his suggestion is to mark an envelope in an easily accessible drawer or with files by your computer with “Bank Safe Deposit Box” on the outside and 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.
So the question of where is the best places to hide money still hadn’t been answered?
His number one recommendation for money was in toys in a young child’s room. As he explained, young children don’t have money, they have an abundance of toys and most parents don’t trust a child around money. Therefore, parents will rarely hide money there. In addition, when money is hidden, it is usually hidden away neatly and securely — a child’s room is rarely a neat place making it an unlikely place for money to be hidden. Plus with all the stuff in a child’s room, it is not someplace that a burglar can search quickly and get out (rule #2).
If you have a safe, it should be professionally bolted down so it can’t easily be removed. If you leave some token money for the burglar to find in the places they normally look for money, then anyplace you wouldn’t normally consider a place to hide valuables will usually keep those valuables safe. The underside of trash cans, inside laundry detergent, inside false packaging (but only if the packaging appears real and is in the appropriate place – “When you find a Campbell’s soup can in the bedroom, you have a pretty good idea there is money inside”) were some examples he gave.
And my question of whether the skid mark underwear would be a good place to hide money?
He laughed. “I haven’t heard of that, but I doubt I would have touched something like that had I seen it.”
You also need to be smart about where you hide the money. He related one time a person had left wads of money inside the empty battery areas of electronics around the house. The problem was that although he had not found the hidden money at first, the electronics themselves were worth money and he took those to sell. Only when he got home and was checking that everything worked did he find the hidden cash. The person hid the money well, but not in a good place.
One last tip from a personal finance angle – if you do hide money someplace around the house, make sure that your significant other (or someone close) knows where your hiding place is. If something unfortunate happens to you and nobody knows where your hidden stash is, it’s unlikely that they will be able to find it if a burglar isn’t able to find it. Worse, it could very easily be accidentally thrown away depending on where it is hidden.