Where To Hide Valuables
Everyone loves a game of hide-and-seek, right? I know I certainly used to as a kid, and let me tell you, I was pretty damn good at it. I’ll never forget the one time I hid so well behind my bedroom curtains that my parents gave up looking for me altogether, and in fact disappeared on holiday to France for 2 weeks, such was their ineptitude in finding me. I teased them about that for years afterwards although now I think about it, I would have liked that holiday.
Anyway the topic of hide-and-seek has come about because of a recent report, carried out by John Lewis Home insurance, that looked at where burglars will search in your house for valuables, and the places they tend to overlook. They did this by interviewing 6 reformed offenders with the assistance of St Giles Trust, an organisation that works with ex-offenders.
Obviously the ideal as a locksmith is that a burglar never gains entry to your house, but if the worst happens where are burglars less likely to look? Admittedly this advice needs to be taken with a pinch of salt, because as soon as you publicise the best places to hide things, burglars themselves catch on pretty quickly and make these the first places they look. There’s not much getting over that paradox, but given the recent report was created after consultation with ex-offenders themselves, it at least gives a general idea of the places burglars will be drawn to in your house.
One of the findings of the research was that drawers and dressers in living rooms and adult bedrooms are not the best hiding place as they are one of the first places that burglars will look. This also goes for pots and pans in the kitchen. Major targets are any locked safes that are not secured to the wall or floor, as these give away the fact there are valuables inside, and are often able to just be carried out the property to be opened later at leisure. If you do have a safe, ensure it is one that is secured to the floor or wall so it can’t be taken out.
Conversely, places where the ex-burglars said they would rarely look included cereal boxes, pasta packets, and children’s toy boxes. One former offender even said he would never enter a child’s playroom or bedroom, and called this an unwritten rule of his. Of course one can’t always rely on this kind of “honour amongst thieves” but it was an interesting finding of the study. If you have something of high value that needs temporarily storing, perhaps hide it away in the bottom of a toy box.
The ex-offenders claimed they would target documents that contained the householder’s identity, such as passports, driving licences, and financial statements, because these could be sold on the black market for decent sums of money. They also stated that most people have a cupboard in their kitchen where they keep bits and pieces, and this usually included spare sets of keys – as such this was also a primary target. If going away on holiday and leaving your car behind, it would be well worth keeping the keys inside packets of rice or cereal boxes in the food cupboard instead of in the drawer. “They are not going to go through all your food packets,” as one ex-offender claimed.
The survey also gave insight into how burglars choose which houses to target. The biggest clue remains leaflets and letters on doormats and sticking out of letterboxes – this is a pretty clear clue that the homeowner is away from home, and the ex-offenders gave this as the most important criteria, even above no car on the drive, or lights being on or off. Parcels on doorsteps is also a giveaway – anyone walking down a road has a pretty good idea that no-one is home if a parcel remains on display outside. The recommendation is to never order parcels to be delivered for when you know you will be away, or if so, provide an alternative address for them to be left at.
Almost all of the ex-burglars questioned agreed that the most effective deterrent was a security camera – this even comes above burglar alarms in the list of things that would make the burglar think again and move on to a different property. Smart doorbells with a camera that can be viewed from the owner’s phone were also mentioned as a new development that would put off all but the most determined burglar. Lights with timer switches were also mentioned, as anything that leaves the burglar not quite sure if someone is at home or not helps to deter them.
In terms of times of burglary, the ex-offenders agreed that there were two main times they targeted houses. One was during the school run time in the afternoon when they knew houses would be empty, and the other is at around 3 or 4 a.m when they could be reasonably sure most people would be asleep.
Although the burglars in some cases could spend many weeks watching a house before breaking in, usually they would spend under 5 minutes in the property itself before making their escape – this short time emphasises the importance of hiding items where they cannot be easily found.
If you’re a burglar reading this, forget what you’ve just read. Hopefully you’re not a burglar though, and this blog has given you food for thought when it comes to storing away your valuables when you’re away from home. And if you are going on holiday to France this summer.. don’t forget the kid hiding behind the curtains.
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