The Best Places to Hide Valuables in Your House

There's more to hiding your valuables than making them hard to find. Whether you're hiding a money stash from burglars or secret documents from an enemy spy, here are a few tips anyone can use to keep something under wraps.

First, let's knock out the obvious: if you have some valuables you want to hide long-term, you should invest in a good safe. It may draw more attention to itself, but it's still more secure than obscurity—a thief will tear your entire house apart if they have enough time on their hands. If you have a quality safe, chances are low they're going to actually get into it, especially if you bolt it down.

However, if you just came into possession of something you need to hide for a few days, or you're going on vacation and want to hide a few items from your house sitter now, you've got a few options.

The Hidden Spots You'll Find in Every Home

Every home has its fair share of nooks and crannies, but some are better than others. For example, you don't want to stash your secrets in the obvious places: under your mattress, behind the toilet tank, or the bottom of your sock drawer for example. Weblogs Frugal Dad and The Simple Dollar have a few good suggestions, including:

  • In the freezer wrapped in aluminum foil. They may tear apart your house, but they probably won't go through every little piece of food in your fridge.
  • Between the cardboard of a picture frame and the picture. Everyone looks behind the picture frame, but fewer actually open it up.
  • Buried in the "soil" of a fake plant
  • Anywhere in your kid's room—preferably inside a toy. We've talked about this before: burglars rarely enter children's rooms, which isn't a surprise given how many toys and knickknacks those kids can have. Hide it inside one of them and it'll get lost in the mess.
  • Inside an asprin bottle—either a small empty one or a big one with the pills sill inside. Really, this works for any container—coffee can, old soup can, or anything else.
  • In between the pages of one of your books. This only really works if you have lots of books—intruders probably won't look through each individual tome. Don't put them in DVDs though, since those'll be one of the first things a burglar grabs on their way out the door.
  • You can find tons of other options around the net, but you get the idea. Enter your house as if you were a burglar and start looking for an imagined stash of money. If you can think to look there within the first few minutes, it's probably a bad spot.

    DIY Hiding Spots that Keep Your Stuff Safe

    Of course, a little extra obscurity goes a long way. We've talked about creating a secret bookcase box, but MSN Money notes that your valuables will be even more safe if you store them in a fake version of permanent house fixtures. That means junction boxes, air vents, drains, electrical outlets, thermostats, and other similar fixtures. A little DIY work can go a long way (though again, if you have the time, you might as well get a safe instead—or combine it with one of these options for mega security).

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    As you start planning your best hiding place, the best thing you can do is think like a thief. Weblog Personal Finance Advice interviewed one and got some enlightening information:

    "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:

  • To steal your money and valuables
  • To get out of the house as quickly as possible with these goods
  • . . ."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."

    So when you find your best hiding spot, consider giving yourself extra protection by placing a fake, smaller stash somewhere slightly more obvious. If you're hiding money from burglars, keep $100 in your sock drawer (or more, if you live in a more upscale neighborhood). If you're hiding secret photos or documents, stash some fake ones that'll lead your enemy spy off the trail. Personal Finance Advice also notes that if you write "Bank Safe Deposit Box" on your valuables, they'll assume you're the type of person that keeps their money stash elsewhere and move along. Photo by Valerie Everett.

    Remember, if you're storing something long-term, you can't go wrong getting a safe. Security through obscurity can only be so good, but combined with a quality, bolted-down safe, you can rest assured that your average burglar isn't going to try and get into it unless they have a personal vendetta. Their main goal is to get in and out as fast as possible.

    This post is part of Spy Week, a series at Lifehacker where we look at ways to improvise solutions to every day problems Bond-style. Want more? Check out our spy week tag page.

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    Title image remixed from Emielcia.

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