When it comes to storing valuables at home, the more secure and hidden the storage space, the better. A secret, unexpected hiding place helps keep jewelry, important papers and even emergency cash safe from potential theft. Forget about portable safes or the jewelry box. Instead, store valuable goods in places a burglar may never think to look.
Places to Avoid
Before delving into good ways to hide your valuables, it's worth mentioning a few places that should be avoided at all costs. Never stash anything of potential value in areas such as the bottom of a dresser drawer, or between the mattress and box spring, as these are common stash locations. Avoid taping things to the back of a painting, or between the painting and the backing board that holds it in a frame. Also forget about putting items under the bed, in a jewelry box or in any type of locked cabinet drawer. An industrious thief will quickly take the time to break the lock if there's any chance of finding valuables inside.
Fooled by Fake Food
Fake cans of food, beverages or household cleaners look just like the real thing, but with a secret inside. The can's innards are clean and designed to store small items such as cash, keys or jewelry. The tops and bottoms of these cans look just like their unopened counterparts as well. The storage area is accessed by unscrewing the can bottom. Some of these deceptive items, such as canned potato snacks, contain the actual product in the upper area of the container for added authenticity.
Besides food items, other "diversion" safes include containers that look like shop degreasers, shaving cream or even travel mugs.
Time to Talk Trash
One practically theft-proof hiding place is inside a trash can. The kitchen trash container, beneath the can liner, is the ideal place to store some valuables. Keep the valuables in a sealed container that won't be harmed by errant drips when a trash bag leaks. This technique is best if everyone else in the household is in on the secret.
In similar fashion, hiding a sealed security container in the bottom of a bin of pet food or cat litter also deters theft. The average thief probably won't look through a closet and empty a bin clearly labeled as containing pet products.
Plant Pot Cash Stash
A house plant can even be the new home for your secret stash of cash or small valuables. Tuck items into a pill bottle or old-school film canister and bury them in a plant pot's dirt before adding a live houseplant. A plant that lasts years, such as aloe or virtually any ivy, works well, since you won't have to repot it any time soon. Keep the canister somewhat high up in the dirt if you think you might need it soon.
Cold Hard Cash
While the freezer is a common hiding place for cash, your frozen stash could be less obvious if you keep it within, say, a bag of peas or frozen fruit. Put the cash inside a freezer bag, seal it, then hide it in a large bag of frozen goods. Other freeze-worthy options include ice cream containers or within an opened box of waffles. Now you can take the term "cold, hard cash" on a whole new level.
Toe Kick Treasure Trove
The toe kick—that recessed area that reaches the floor beneath a lower kitchen or bathroom cabinet—offers a sizable empty space beneath the cabinet, ideal for stashing some of your valuables. Look for a cabinet, such as one on a corner, with a relatively short toe-kick board. Carefully and slowly pry it free to avoid breakage. Clean out the space beneath the cabinet, if necessary, then insert a cash box or other durable, dust-proof container for your valuables. Reattach the toe kick board with stick-on hook and loop tape or extra strong, thin rare-earth magnets. (If using magnets you'll also need thin strips of magnetic metal to attach to the back side of the toe kick board.)
A Roll inside a Roll
A wall-mounted toilet-paper holder is an excellent place to stash cash, as a thief most likely won't check it. Those hollow plastic or metal spring-loaded roll holders offer enough space to store at least a few hundreds. Pull the pieces apart, then carefully roll the money inside so it still leaves room for the spring. Pre-made roll-holder safes are also available on Amazon.
False Electrical Outlets
A fake electrical outlet that looks just like the live outlets in your home is another place to store small valuables. Install one of these at the same level as other outlets for the most realism. The downside: An outlet-shaped safe requires cutting a hole in the wall. Many of these include the tools necessary for installation. Another option: If your home has an outlet or lightswitch box installed, without any live connected electrical wires, you won't have to cut holes or buy an outlet safe. Just store items in a small container that fits in the outlet box, then add an outlet cover and a non-connected outlet. It looks just like the real thing because it is, sans electricity. The space behind an old unused phone jack or cable wall plate will also work, with a little creative retooling.
Oh, the Iron-y
An ironing board is another practically burglar-proof hiding place for cash. Place a few bills beneath the ironing board cover. Don't stack the bills, as they'll leave an obvious lump. In line with the laundry and clothing themes, a burglar would never think to look for an envelope of cash or important papers that's taped to the back of the washer or dryer. A drawstring bag of clothespins is also a place to stash a smaller bag of valuables in the laundry room. An airtight container, hidden in the bottom of a powdered detergent bin, offers yet another sneaky storage idea. A drawstring pouch of jewelry or cash, hung from a hanger inside of a zipped-up coat, is another option. Choose a coat that's a bit out of date, as one that's expensive or desirable could be taken if a thief looks in the coat closet.
Take It Higher
Burglars entering a house are usually looking for items to purloin in a pinch. They aren't going to spend hours climbing, digging or disassembling things for the off chance they may find something of value; after all, the more time spent in a home, the greater the chance of being caught. Keep some of your valuables in an inconvenient location, such as in an envelope taped to the top of a high garage shelf or beam, out of sight from ground level. An attic with pull-down stairs is another good place to stash things, as an intruder may not even notice the attic entry point. When storing valuables in the attic, stash them within something that seems undesirable, such as a box of Halloween decorations or winter hats and gloves. Label the box "Halloween decorations," "clothing to donate," or something of seemingly low value to deter interest.
Kathy Adams is an award-winning writer. She is an avid DIYer that is equally at home repurposing random objects into new, useful creations as she is at supporting community gardening efforts and writing about healthy alternatives to household chemicals. She's written numerous DIY articles for paint and decor companies, as well as for Black + Decker, Hunker, SFGate, Landlordology and others.