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March 24, 2010


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I keep a money stash in an envelope, which is in a box of mixed envelopes, some of which are full of other envelopes, coupons, and papers, so the "stacked" one doesn't look out of place :)

We only generally keep about $200-$300 of emergency cash in the house and (because of "Conversations with a Burglar") it's not hidden at all. If someone wants to go to the effort to break in our house this amount would be worth it for them to just snatch and run. Additional damage would be far worse.

The house we bought a while back has an incredibly robust security system. There must have been a paranoid previous occupant because the burglary rate in these parts is like 3 percent of the national average.

Ha, if I did have an awesome place, why would I list it here? Let's not give the bad guys too many ideas ;)

That said, if I had to choose a place it would be somewhere that the crook would have to climb to get to, or in the basement in 1 particular box filled with kids drawings on a shelf and then in a carved out book of some sort.

I had to laugh at the recommedation to keep cash in the freezer--isn't that where they found that one congressman's bribe money? That's probably the first place a criminal would look!

I also LOLed at the person who creates "fake" stashes for the thieves. Don't you think that will just bring them back to your house? It pretty much screams, "I have something really big hidden at home, you just have to look harder!"

If someone broke into my house, I'm sure they'd take the computers, dining room silver, DVD collection, big screen TV, and perhaps my kids' piggy banks (< $100 each), and the fire safe in my office (contains only documents) before looking around very hard for a huge stash of cash.

I don't run my own business, I'm not a drug dealer, and I'm not a survivalist squirreling away gold for the coming apocolypse. I don't have a husband that I have to hide cash from in my dresser drawer. I keep my cash in my wallet, or else in the bank. I'd use a safe deposit box for my precious metals (if I had any).

If I had to hide something, I wouldn't store it in my house anyway. I'd tape it to an envelope and tape it somewhere to my car's body hidden under the engine or something like that. Usually if I'm not home, I have my car with me.


From the sound of all the stuff your friend hides & the locations of these items, a burglar could break into your friend's house and look ANYWHERE and he would find something valuable ;)

I have a security system + gun safe that is bolted to the floor. I suppose a thief could bulldoze my house to get the gun safe -- so I haven't had time to plan for this contingency yet.

I was telling my daughter where i stashed my laptop, portable harddrive and safe when we go on vacation. Of course she was curious as to why i was did that and I told her incase some one breaks in they won't have a fast time finding the good stuff.
I think my flat screens and video game systems would be gone but at least I would have my laptop.

I keep a USB hard drive with a backup of our family pics and videos in the car (swapped regularly with the one hooked up to the computer). We have a piggy bank with $80 or so in change in it.

My TV is hidden inside our upright piano, so they probably wouldn't find or steal that, but our laptops are usually in plain sight.

Suggestions? Yes.

Don't live a paranoid life such that you are so non-trusting of every entity out there (govt, banks, brokers, etc), that you keep a significant portion of your assets as hard assets hidden in an unsafe place like your house.

Jeez this is the kind of fringe behavior of those who think they are going to survive a collapse of the society by keeping some bars of silver in their home and a few guns.

This guy who is hidding silver all over his house, is he sure a house fire won't melt that silver? Silver melts a little above 1700F and I have heard a house fire can get that hot.

In 2010 the only thing you should be worried about hiding for safety is a murder weapon. Hiding gold and silver? That's crazy wild wild west talk.

We don't keep large amounts of cash at home and the valuables are obvious (TV, laptops, gaming computer, framed art on the walls, furniture, and my jewelry armoir).

Luckily, all of that is insured and I have pictures of it all at work and on my laptop. As long as I have my husband and the thieves don't hurt my pets, I'll be okay with whatever happens to the rest.

I'll be one crazy red-head if they hurt my hubby or my pets.

Our financial paperwork would be vulnerable, but I check our credit reports every 4 months anyway and our regular accounts at least once a week.

I will now start giving our laptops to my in-laws while we're out of town since they watch our dogs too. That was a good suggestion.

If I had gold or silver bars, they'd be in a fireproof/waterproof safe bolted or set into the concrete of my home's foundation or in a safety deposit box.

Honestly, I don't worry about thieves too much. My neighbors keep a close eye on everything (and own guns...true Texans, lol) and we don't live in a high crime area anyway. Plus, my whole neighborhood is obvious starter homes...if I was a thief, I'd hit the mansions less than half a mile away.

Have to agree with apex on this. Don't keep anything really valuable(as in easily convertible to cash in the house) . Computers, are hardly worth the effort--you have backups of your important stuff right? Tv are almost all tooo big, cameras, well this is one serious one if yours is pro level, art work is not readily fencible. Have good insurance, some security, lock your doors and be sensible.

Your friend is weird to be hiding all this stuff around his house. Why not just get a safty deposit box at the bank for that stuff.

I keep maybe 100 to 200 bucks in an envelope in my desk. Its not really hidden at all. The only things I have at home that I would miss if stolen would be my guitars. Everything else just isn't that valuble or important. I also live in a very middle class neighborhood. Not the kind of area that smart burglers would be targeting. Anyone breaking in my house would probably be the crack head type looking for some fast cash. They could find my 100-200 bucks. Everything else they would have to sell...and it would probably be too much work and hassle for them to do that.

I generally agree with Apex.

Keeping large amounts of valuables in your home is not very safe. No matter how well you hide it.

That guy should probably not be running around telling too many people that he has >$300 in cash in his bedroom and where exactly it can be found. Someone over hears that conversation at lunch and this guy gets robbed for the $300.

i put it in places that are too obvious that a thick thief would not think of looking for it there. but if the thick thief is not as stupid as i think he is and he finds it, the amount will not be worth the struggle because i never keep more that a few dollars in the house. i am not a big spender and so i keep the bulk of my cash in long(ish) term investments.

My biggest fear is that someone will break in and not steal stuff that I have around the apartment (nothing worth anything), but find my financial paperwork and use it to break into my brokerage and other accounts to transfer $ out.

I can't help but think anyone who is considering hiding/locking away anything inside his own home (other than a weapon) either keeps too many uninsured valuables/cash in his house or needs to move.

I agree with the general sentiment here, just get a safe deposit box for valuables and don't keep too much at home (that amount depends on your risk tolerance).

I think in today's world, documents are more dangerous in the wrong hands due to identity theft, etc. For valuables, you would lose the items and what they're worth. With identity theft, they can spend your money you don't even have (credit) and completely ruin your entire life (can't get a job, etc).

For important or sensitive documents, we have a locking fire/water proof filing cabinet and we only keep the most recent documents on hand that we might need. Every 6-12 months we gather the oldest and go to the bank.

Thinking about this does make me want to consider getting a security system though... Does anyone have any advice for companies, services, prices, etc? What about those fake cameras that you can put up just to deter thieves? Effective? Waste?

A lot of this sounds like overkill.

Reminds me of Chevy Chase's Vegas Vacation when they have to dig through the entire back yard looking for money because Uncle Eddie couldn't remember where he hid it all.

I doubt any burgler is after your 70 pound 50" TV. He'll be after a quick steal... laptops, playstations, obvious money. When I was in college, we got broken into and had our DVD player, Nintendo GameCube (didn't bother with controllers) and change jars stolen. Everything else was fine, nothing was opened or thrown around.

Maybe that one burgler would tear a place apart, but you really think that's the norm? I'm betting no.

If you have $1mm in investable assets, and you put a small 1% into gold/silver, you would have $10k sitting around. This is worth stealing to the average thief.

If you took half of your gold assets and put them in the safe deposit box (hard to access if the bank is closed), you would still have $5k sitting around. Is it really that extreme to have this holding? I think not. Will it ever be needed? I think not.

I have multiples of this in jewelry, antiques, wine, and other small valuables sitting around. If a theif comes, he comes. Finding the safe, getting it out of the house or breaking into it is a lot more difficult than you would think... and I am willing to also bet anyone breaking into my home is of below average intelegence- when average isnt saying much.

"in a tank with mean fish" Won't that get the floor all wet when they tip the tank over?

RCP - very funny!

These threads are fun to have but I'm another one who doesn't keep big lumps of silver in my home so it's not a big deal. My passport or permanent resident card getting stolen would be a giant hassle, but I have my little "at home emergency stash" of cash in ... wait for it! ... the undies drawer beside my bed. It's only 600 bucks so I'd rather they take it than smash things up to find anything else. If you are keeping valuables in weird places remember to tell some other people though, in case you're hit by a bus tomorrow!

Seems a lot of us are operating on old wives tales or assumptions. I'd also heard and assumed that thieves mostly want to smash and grab laptops, ipods, cellphones rather than dig through your whole home. The only thing ever stolen from our house was the GPS in my husband's car in the driveway.


Thanks now I know where to find the "good stuff" when I break into someone's house.

In security, you have to balance the protection with practicality/accessibility and risk.

I have, at most, no more than $200 cash in my house. That way, even if I get burglarized, the loss wouldn't be severe.

It's easy enough to find it too. In fact, you'll find most of any cash that I carry in my wallet, hanging in my pants, in my closet. So, please don't trash the rest of the house when you go get it.

Now, here's the thing.

If I'm at work, the wallet is with me, so they won't get the cash by breaking into my house.

And if I'm at home, then they can get it, but they'd have to go through me first. Now, I don't know exactly how to put this without sounding like one of those pretend internet tough guys, but suffice to say, I'm not exactly an easy target.

The basic goal of self-defense is to turn yourself into a high risk, low reward value proposition for the bad guys. Stashing valuables in your house is simply a disaster waiting to happen.

If your friend had asked for me advice, I would recommend to pony up the money for a safe deposit box. Yes, it costs money, but... if you want to amass sizeable amounts of valuables, that's the Right Answer.

The Wrong Answer is to pepper it all over your house so burglars can feel like they're on a fun treasure hunt when they decide to break into his house. All it would take is for it to happen once too. If they find even one or two coins, they'll think there's more, and they'll keep coming back until your friend finally do it the Right way.

And let's not even get into the issue of problem of burglaries turning into home invasions. Seriously, please try to talk your friend into a safe deposit box. That or maybe try something else other than amassing large quantities of precious metal.

I enjoyed watching the show To Catch a Thief that was running several years ago where the two burglars would setup cameras in peoples homes then break in and show how quickly they would be able to move a lot of stuff out of the house. Normally it took 10 minutes or less and they got thousands of dollars worth of goods each time.

In this cashless society (I pay for almost everything with a card or else a check) who keeps large amounts of cash anywhere (even in your wallet)? My daughter's piggy bank probably has the most money in the house!

Buy your silver and gold through an ETF if you trust that the ETF issuer actual has the metal. If must buy physical silver or gold, put it in a safe deposit box, don't hide it in the house.

My lawyers love when people put every single transaction on a card... we can track every dollar they've ever earned or spent. Its a very useful tool. I try to use cash and thus carry around what some would consider large amounts of cash (between 100 and 500 at any given time).

On etfs- yes if you simply want to own some metals for your portfolio then buy an etf that tracks the desired asset class. Owning the hard assets serves a purpose in addition to owning precious metals for portfolio diversification. Putting all of the hard asset into a safe deposit box also tends to negate the justification for owning them in the first place.

I am going to guess that anyone who has any precious metals in their home does so for political reasons (libertarian, etc.) or they are wealthy and have a very small percent of their worth in these assets. (Stealing the gold is not going to even be a blip on my life beyond pissing me off)

The freezer is a good place to hide something particularly cash. If you want a place no one would look tape it behind the sink.

Good grief. If I weren't a logorrheic scribbler, I'd say that's all I can say, but...

Matter of fact, I do have a secret hidey-hole (not sayin' where it is) that holds the few negotiable instruments in the house. I don't keep cash in my house (insane!!!). But I do have some defunct checks from closed accounts, which I leave laying in a desk drawer as a ruse. Burglar looks in there, and w00t! [or whatever burglars say] He thinks he's found the checks to my account. I also leave my loose change collection in plain sight, mostly for convenience but also because there's never more than about ten bucks in there, so it's not much loss.

And I make it a point not to own a lot of valuable Stuff. First, I don't need it. And second, I don't want it. Burglar pays a visit, he gets an old second-hand TV set and a handful of beads strung together from craft-store findings. Hope he won't steal my dog (yes...the ba*tards actually stole a neighbor's PET DOG in the course of ripping the place off!). Otherwise, there's little here that will be missed.

I do alarm the doors so the fellas can't get in while I'm here without giving me enough warning to dodge out a different door.

The door to the home office, where the computers reside, is a reinforced solid-core door equipped with a pick-resistant, drill-resistant heavy-duty deadbolt. It gets locked every time I leave the house, even just long enough to walk the dog around the block. The window to that room sits above a tangle of rosebushes with tiger-like claws in full view of the street. Yeah, a determined burglar can get in, but it'll take him some time, and most burglars don't want to waste time. And again...if he steals stuff, it's backed up off-site. I wouldn't be happy to lose my computers, but the world wouldn't end.

In the defense industry, they call the idea of hiding your stuff "security by obscurity". This is a term of ridicule; it's not a very useful form of security.

I remember watching one of those "I used to be a crook and now I break into your home on camera to show you what you're doing wrong" shows. The guy was in and out in about 5 minutes, and had completely torn up every room in the house, even AFTER he found some pretty big stashes (including one in the kitchen and a couple in the master bedroom.) The homeowners were shocked. "I thought that was a good hiding place!" they said.

Fake stashes DON'T WORK; if someone is going to break into your place they're usually going to take the time to find all your stashes, ESPECIALLY after they've found the first one and therefore established that you're the sort of person who stashes stuff. So:

(1) don't keep ridiculous amounts of cash lying around. Invest it instead.
(2) for the things you do keep at home -- your most valuable jewelry, important papers, etc. -- keep them in a decent quality safe which is bolted directly into concrete or embedded in a wall (that can't be easily accessed from the back side).
(3) have appropriate "insurance" measures in place. This means computer backups, actual insurance against theft of valuables, and a basic awareness of how to put an identity theft warning on your credit report.

Good point there, Lothar.

The cliche is, "Security by obscurity is no security at all", but I've argued before that it's actually worse than no security at all.

That's because security by obscurity gives the homeowner a sense of FALSE security. Consequently, security awareness drops while the level of security increase is negligible, if at all.

I'm not saying that the act of concealment isn't an option at all. I'm just saying that it isn't a very good one. In fact, people who understand self-defense will know that every defensive measure can and will be defeated. Therefore, defense should be layered and substantial relative to risk, but again, balanced with practicality and accessibility.

It can be done, but if it's not something the homeowner himself wants to provide, that's OK. Just pay some money to someone who can, like a bank with a safe deposit box.

We keep our accessible cash in a drawer in the bedroom closet. We have Euro, USD, Asian currencies and a few ounces of gold hidden in there- about $20 - 30k total.

Generally our residence is pretty safe since it is a condominium with several guards. However if someone really wanted to break in they could. That would be a bummer but if it were to pass it wouldn't kill us- $30k would be made up in less than 3 months of savings.


Someone apparently broke into our house last week. ("Broke" is probably the wrong word since they most likely entered through the unlocked patio door.)

They let our dogs out, even the naughty one that was locked in the bathroom. They apparently went to our bedrooms and looked through the jewelry boxes because those were open. However, they didn't take anything as far as we can tell. We really don't have anything of value. There are three laptops in the house and an Xbox 360 in plain view and they were all still there.

I honestly don't know what happened because it doesn't make sense to me. Why would they let my dog out of the bathroom? Why wouldn't they take the laptops on the table? I know they aren't THAT valuable, but what did they have to lose? A neighbor saw the dogs out running around the neighborhood three hours before we got home so they had plenty of time to spend in our house. Maybe they just scoped it out for a future visit?

Anyway, now we diligently set the security alarm every time we leave or go to bed and we deadbolt every door. Based on a comment above, maybe I should search for hidden cameras, but that seems extreme. At least we got our dogs back. There are plenty of other dogs in the neighborhood to keep them busy without having to cross a busy street.

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