Whether being away from home for the holidays or a well-deserved vacation, there are a number of things to do prior to departure. Lock doors and windows, stop the mail, unplug unnecessary electronics, turn on automatic lights, give a spare key to your neighbor, and so on. Another thing many of us do is hide our valuables. However, burglars are getting smarter, and many of the common—or even not-so-common—hiding spots aren’t as safe as you think.
Protect your belongings better while out of town by knowing the top nine places burglars look first.
NEAR WINDOWS AND DOORS
Doors and windows are the most common entry points for burglars, so that’s often the first place they look for any valuables. Burglars also know many homeowners hide their house key near the front door, making it easier for them to break in within minutes or even seconds.
ENTRYWAY DRAWERS AND CABINETS
If a thief does break in the front door, they may not have time to go to other hot spots like the master bedroom or office. Instead, they’ll rummage through the drawers and cabinets right near the front door. Things most often found include car keys, backup cash, and personal documents. You may also have valuables on display for guests entering your home, making it easy for burglars to grab and go.
If the burglar makes it to the bedroom, one of the first places they may start rifling through is the dresser drawers. Valuables on top of dressers, such as in jewelry boxes, are obvious and easy to take quickly, but they will be looking for other unique or more valuable items “hidden” in the drawers.
UNDER THE MATTRESS
Hiding things under the mattress is one of the oldest tricks in the book, so a burglar will check for anything of value, such as jewelry, firearms, prescriptions, and extra cash. The mattress in the master bedroom is particularly vulnerable because that room is likely where they will find the most items of value.
A safe is a secure space to store money, records, valuables, confidential documents, and more. However, if it’s portable and not attached to the floor or a wall, it’s easy for a burglar to walk off with the entire thing and everything inside. If something is locked, it implies there are valuable items inside, making it more tempting for the taking.
You probably don’t have valuables in your medicine cabinet, but burglars will likely browse for any prescription pills they may be able to sell.
Important documents and extra cash are often kept in office drawers. And, by keeping things labeled and organized for our use, we makes it easier for burglars to find what they are looking for faster. Offices often hold everything someone would need to steal your identity, so keep sensitive data safe and securely locked.
Hiding things in plain sight isn’t always the best option. An empty vase (or one with fake flowers) may seem like a good hiding place for valuables, but they are easy to tip over or even break while searching for the goods.
KITCHEN FREEZER AND STORAGE AREAS
Hiding cash and jewelry in the kitchen has become more popular. For example, some people believe placing valuables in a plastic bag and stashing it in the freezer is a good strategy. However, a thief has probably already thought of that. If they have time, a burglar will likely go through your freezer, cereal boxes, pantry, and storage containers to find what you’ve stashed.
The important thing to do is to think like a burglar. Thieves typically only have a few minutes to grab what they can, so they will take anything within sight. However, they also know that important things— like cash, jewelry, documents, and other valuables—will likely be hidden somewhere within the home.
To protect your belongings, here are a few things you can do:
- Mix your valuables in with other items in boxes that are labeled with something of little interest, such as "clothes" or "books."
- Attach safes to your floor or walls to make them more difficult to break into and/or take.
- Invest in a high-quality lock and/or security system.
- Install motion-sensor lighting outside.
- Landscape defensively, with prickly trees, shrubs, and bushes around windows and doors, making it more difficult for thieves to get in and out.