A burglar would never look here…

Misplacing an inexpensive tool so you have to go buy another is easy to do. But deliberately hiding a thin envelope from intruders is no mindless manoeuvre.

Misplacing an inexpensive tool so you have to go buy another is easy to do. But deliberately hiding a thin envelope from intruders is no mindless manoeuvre.

When seven government co-workers in Albany, New York won a $319 million lottery, the ticket holder sealed the winning ticket inside two  baggies, plunged them deep into a five-gallon pail of bird seed, and hid the pail in his garage. Then he worried all weekend fearing fire, burglary, tornado and hurricane until Monday when he could turn in the ticket.

Mothers of little kids possess a natural knack when it comes to concealing everything from jellybeans, peanut butter cookies and tricycles from their kids until that special birthday. Unfortunately I’ve lost my ability to find a safe niche for cash or important documents while I’m gone from the house for a few days.

I tackle hiding valuables in three stages – caching them out of sight, where they will be easy for me to retrieve later, and setting up a foolproof reminder system of cryptic clues to lead me back to them later.

I remember my near panic when I sought to hide a thin envelope of documents. No matter where I tried to slip it in – between two upright magazines, in the pages of a book, among newspapers – it left an obvious gap. The clues, too, had to be safely hidden, yet with ‘strings’ so that if I succumbed in a car accident, a plane crash, or had a heart attack,  my family could track the documents.

Searching for hiding hints, I googled “how to hide valuables” and found a long list of articles including an interview with a career burglar. He says a burglar has two motivations  – to steal your money and valuables, and to exit your house as quickly as possible with your goods. So anything you can do to slow him down will save your belongings.

Avoid common hiding places where burglars search first: The master bedroom. The medicine cabinet (thieves love prescription pills). Inside and under dresser drawers. Underneath mattresses and along bed frames. Bedroom closets and clothes pockets. A locked fire safe or locked briefcase – both can be picked up and taken along to be broken into somewhere else. Make sure any safe is bolted down.

Never stash valuables in the back of portable items such as VCRs, CD players, TVs or golf bags. Nor should you slip valuables into video or CD boxes. Teen burglars scoop those.

The burglar advised leaving some decoy money in one or two common hiding places. A thief may settle, thinking that’s all the cash you had, depending upon the financial scale of your neighbourhood. To leave him nothing may keep him ransacking your home to try to find something.

He suggests marking the outside of an envelope “Bank Safe Deposit Box” and leaving the envelope in an easily accessible drawer or near your computer. Inside the envelope list valuables that could be stored in a bank safe deposit box, to discourage him from hunting for those valuables in your home. Include a key that doesn’t open anything.

Never leave door or car keys lying handy in plain sight. Burglars can take them intending to return later for a leisurely search.

Unusual hiding places include in a kids’ toybox or in a kid’s bedroom; among Christmas decorations; in boxes of kitty litter or laundry detergent, or bags of dog food; in a toilet tissue core in a nearly-full package; in a feminine napkin or tampon supply; in a spice bottle; in food containers to keep in the fridge, pantry or freezer; in the soil of a houseplant. Or between two identical thin floor mats glued together all around except at one end where the envelope can be slipped in, then the mats glued together with two-sided sticky tape.