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
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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.
Part II: Don’t Hide Money In The Toilet: More Conversation With A Burglar
With my previous post The Best Place To Hide Money – Conversation With A Burglar being one of my most popular posts ever on this site, there wasn’t any hesitation when I was at another gathering over the weekend and spotted the former burglar that had given me the information. I went straight up to him and asked if I could talk with him for awhile. This is what I learned from the second conversation we had: Most people don’t understand the motivation of why the burglar is stealing. As he explained:
99% of the burglars on the street aren’t like the ones you see in the movies where stealing is their chosen profession. They are motivated by more sinister reasons. They are part of organized crime, they are part of a gang or, as in my case at the time, they are drug addicts.
When you realize that you are most likely hiding your money away from people described above and not the professional burglars you see in the movies and on TV, it gives a different perspective of where you absolutely shouldn’t be hiding your money.
What he explained was that when people hide their money, they usually think of a place where they would never look themselves instead of where a burglar is unlikely to find the money. Take, for example, the back of the closet in a box where he said he often found valuables. For the person who is hiding the money or valuables, this is an inconvenient place and it takes effort to get to. Since all the boxes in front of it have meaning and therefore need to be carefully placed aside before reaching the box that contains valuables in the back, it seems like an inconvenient place to access. For the burglar, however, the boxes in front have no meaning and he will simply throw them aside without a second thought making it quite
easy to access that hiding place. As the conversation continued, the former burglar mentioned “bonus places” he sometimes found money. These were places that he always looked that an average homeowner might consider a good place to hide money, but it wasn’t money that he was after. If there happened to be money there, however, it was a nice, unexpected bonus.
All burglars have habits and there were certain places I always checked for a specific reason – I was a drug addict. I’m sure that other burglars have their particular search areas beyond the obvious drawers and closets, but I bet that most search these areas, too.
These are the areas he always searched and the reason why you don’t want to hide money there:
Toilets: While this might seem like an unlikely place for a burglar to look, in the toilet bowl tank (as well as all the area round the toilet) is one place that he always took the time to look: “In and around the toilet is where a lot of people hide their drugs. The tank seems an especially popular place, but I will also search boxes of tampons, toilet paper rolls, potpourri… If it is in the vicinity of the toilet and looks like drugs could be hidden there, I would look.”
Cereal Boxes: As with the toilet, “Cereal boxes are another place where a lot of people like to hide drugs. I’m sure that the people who didn’t have drugs in their house wondered why there was cereal spread all over their kitchen after I robbed them.”
Refrigerator & Freezer: The refrigerator may be another place that would seem unlikely for a burglar to investigate, but as he pointed out, “Many drugs last longer when refrigerated so big stashes end up in the refrigerator. Prescription drugs could also be found in the refrigerator.”
Medicine Cabinet: As with the refrigerator, “The medicine cabinet would usually be filled with prescription drugs that could be just as valuable on the street (or for self use) as illegal drugs.”
Bed: “I would toss everything surrounding the bed. I’d check pillows, between the mattresses, under the bed and inside anything close to the bed. This is often where people would hide their guns.”
As mentioned in the previous article, the best place to keep money is at the bank, but if you do decide to stash some extra cash at home in case of an emergency, you now know that these possible hiding places are not where you want to hide your money.