Protect Your Valuables by Stashing them in Plain Sight

Protect Your Valuables by Stashing them in Plain Sight

When a burglar breaks into your home the first thing the burglar usually looks for are small expensive items that can easily be carried out of the house in pockets, backpack or some sort of bag. Research shows that the average residential burglar stays in a home for less than 10 minutes. Often the burglar will creep through rooms emptying dresser drawers and scanning countertops for jewelry, cash, small electronics, handguns, and other valuables that can be easily traded or sold (usually for drugs).

Because few home burglars are sophisticated enough or come prepared with the necessary tools to gain access to a heavy-duty safe securely bolted to the floor or wall, some security experts advise always keeping small valuables in a safe. As a physical security consultant, I make the same recommendation because a good safe is really the best place to store small valuables inside a home.

The problem is, good safes are expensive and people are human. Few people will diligently keep their small valuables in the safe day-in-and-day-out. It’s a hassle to access a safe every time you want to put on that expensive jewelry or access your wad of cash. Knowing this, I often recommend that homeowners (and even many small businesses) keep their small valuables hidden in plain sight.

Spy movies show some pretty clever places to hide valuables in a home but one does not have to be Maxwell Smart, Agent 99, or James Bond to come up with clever ways to stash valuables in plain sight. Stashing valuables in plain sight will allow them to be easily accessible to you when you want them but a burglar will walk right past them and never know it.

Realistic counterfeit “stash” containers in the form of soda bottles, Ajax containers, canned foods, oil containers, etc. have been common for decades and are available from many online merchants. As realistic as they are, they have been around so long that clever burglars know to look for them. After all, many burglars have been “stashing” their weed and other drugs in them for years.

Faux Rocks, clocks with hidden compartments, hallowed out books, pictures with hidden compartments in the back of the frame, fake electrical outlets and others are common hiding places and crooks and opportunist “friends” often know all about them. But there are still a few hiding places that most thieves have never thought of. The ones I like are:


This takes some tools and basic handyman skills but it is a hiding spot that in more than three decades of law enforcement and serving search warrants, I never thought of looking for. Basically, you drill a hole in the top of an interior door. Size it to fit a cylinder such as a small plastic bottle or cigar tube. Put your stash in the container and Insert the container in the hole. If you are interested, go to YouTube and you will find a number of videos showing you exactly how to drill the hole and insert the stash tube.


The Behind the Door Hinge stash portal is similar to the Hole in Top of Door portal and requires removing a door hinge and drilling your stash portal into the door frame behind the hinge. This is much more unlikely to be detected but requires removal of the door hinge every time you want to access your stash. This option is best used for long-term stashing.




Some of these potted plants look quite fake but others look very realistic and even have real dirt and plants in them. When was the last time a burglar stole or even paid attention to a potted plant?






This one is very ingenious. People have been hiding cash and other valuables in their refrigerator or freezer for decades. It’s not a bad place because if your home catches fire having your valuables inside a refrigerator or freezer offers them some level of fire protection. But, clever burglars are on to these hiding places and some burglars have even been known to open the frig to see what they can eat on the run.

But, the Lettuce Safe take it a level further. Inside the realistic head of Iceberg lettuce is a secret compartment where small valuables can be secreted. A burglar might go for a cold beer or a piece of pie, but it’s a good bet they will leave the lettuce in the vegetable crisper alone.


This secret hiding spot follows in the footsteps of the Lettuce Safe. Inside the realistic looking loaf of bread is a secret compartment for small valuables. Not so good if the burglar decides to make himself a BLT!







The Light Bulb Safe looks like any other light bulb except that it screws apart and can hold small valuables like cash and jewelry. It can be screwed into a light socket and although it doesn’t light up, it acts just like burnt out bulb causing no suspicion.



With the exception of the Door Hinge stash portal which offers maximum secrecy, all of these secret stash hiding spots and containers are an inexpensive way to keep your small valuables safe and readily accessible. When you have something to hide, consider spreading the stash around in several stash receptacles. That way you will have enough space to hide all your small valuables and even in the unlikely event a thief stumbles upon one, the others will be safe and secure right in plain sight.

George W. Babnick, is a 34 year law enforcement veteran with an extensive background in physical security, criminal and administrative investigations, training, school policing, supervision and management, and criminal forensics. He retired as a Captain in the Portland Oregon Police Bureau where he managed the Training, School Police, and Forensic Evidence Divisions. He holds criminal justice degrees from Portland Community College and Portland State University and a law degree from Northwestern California University School of Law, Sacramento California. Mr. Babnick is a longtime member of the Western Society of Criminology and is the author of articles on security and law enforcement, investigations, supervision and management, and risk management related to these subjects. As a physical security expert, George Babnick provides private physical security consultations across the United States and consults with clients outside the United States. He specializes in assessing security problems for small and medium businesses as well as select individuals. He offers independent, honest advice and expertise, with the goal of providing all clients with practical and cost-effective security solutions to enhance security and effectively manage business and personal security risks. Mr. Babnick is also a licensed Private Investigator and conducts investigations for attorneys, businesses, and individuals throughout the State of Oregon. To learn more about security consultation and investigative services offered, please visit Disclaimer: Nothing in any article on this blog should be construed as legal advice. Persons seeking legal advice should seek the counsel of an attorney licensed in their state.