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We all have important documents that we need to keep track of. Lots of us have some things that are very expensive or even priceless that we never want to lose. You need to hide valuables somewhere. Storing these items can be tricky if we want to make sure that they aren’t lost, stolen, or confiscated. If you hire someone else to hold on to them for you, you add an extra layer of risk that they won’t keep their promise. A family Bible and old family photos are almost value-less in a damage calculation in a lawsuit. Here are some of the 3 best ways to discreetly hide your valuables at your own house.
Where NOT To Hide Valuables
Safe deposit boxes are a horrible place to keep your valuables. They have been known to be raided, and the contents sold due to nothing more than clerical errors, without informing the owners.
Keeping valuables “under your mattress” or in some other easy hiding place in your house is not a good idea either. Visitors might stumble upon your stash, burglars can find it pretty easily, even a search warrant could easily expose your hiding place.
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Some private vaults have a better reputation than most banks when it comes to anonymously and securely storing valuables. There are even some offshore options if you want better asset protection. You still have to trust a third party to honor the agreement and protect your stuff. Most vaulting companies will limit their liability in their storage agreement to hide valuables.
There are some at home options to hide valuables that involve third parties that still might be worth exploring. You could have a safe installed in your home. If you hire a contractor, you are taking the risk of sharing the existence and location of the safe with a third party, even if it is a hidden safe. If you go the cheap route and install a regular safe yourself, a burglar might find it, un-install it, and crack it later at their secret lair.
Hide Valuables At Home
Here are some alternatives that you can use to protect your stuff yourself and hide valuables at home.
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Hiding in plain sight is a great way to throw off anyone who might be looking for your valuable documents or items. One of the most popular ways to hide valuables is using a book safe. They are easy and fun to make.
If you have gone “paperless” and don’t have many physical books anymore, you can use any object that you can mix in with others to hide your stuff. Hollowing out a Kindle seems a bit expensive, but maybe you can convert a box of Corn Flakes into a safe and stick it in your pantry, make a few hollow Christmas decorations and stuff them full of your precious coins and a copy of your will and stick them in the huge box with all of the other Christmas decorations. You can really use your imagination on this one.
2. Hidden Wall Compartment
Most homes are built with wood framing and drywall. This leaves a space about 15′ wide and 4" deep and a few feet high between wall studs and drywall. Poke a hole in the wall big enough to put your fireproof and waterproof container with your priceless artwork and gold nuggets in between the walls. Most people have the skills to follow a simple do-it-yourself book on how to fix the hole in the drywall. A patch kit, some plaster and paint will cost you very little. Just remember that you can’t take these things in and out of the wall without breaking a new hole.
If you doubt your wall patching ability, you might choose a spot where the hole will be covered by a large appliance, or in some other spot where people won’t easily find it. The more creative the spot to hide valuables, the less likely it will be for someone else to find it, if they even know it exists.
If you are really handy, you might be able to build out a new wall to create more space or even a small room. Be careful whenever you are poking holes in the wall because there might be wires, pipes, and other surprises waiting.
3. Buried Treasure
If you are still not comfortable poking holes in your walls, you can pick up a shovel and play pirate with buried treasure. Use a solid, waterproof container to hold your valuables and bury them in the yard somewhere. To make it easier to locate later, put a clear landmark on top of it like a large rock or plant a bush. You can easily integrate that into your regular landscaping plans.
Be careful before you dig to check with the local authorities for any buried electrical, sewer, gas or water lines. Hitting one of those with a shovel is not as much fun as finding buried treasure.
Protecting your stuff on your own property can be practical, but it has the added benefit of letting you use your creativity. The more creative you get to hide valuables, the better it will probably be hidden. The only bad thing is you can’t show off your creativity to the neighbors.
Reprinted with permission from How to Vanish.
January 12, 2011