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July 21, 2008 11:09 AM   Subscribe

What is your most ingenious hiding place for valuables?

I am looking for suggestions for where to hide items such as cash, jewelry, spare car keys, etc. I know about hollowed-out books and fake cans of shaving cream, but I would like to hear some other creative examples that are not so well-known.
posted by DB Cooper to Grab Bag (49 answers total) 41 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: My friend kept hers in her tampon box when she was living in the Ivory Coast lol.
posted by Penelope at 11:12 AM on July 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

In the toilet tank in a waterproof container.
posted by kimdog at 11:14 AM on July 21, 2008

My friend kept hers in her tampon box when she was living in the Ivory Coast lol.

Holy crap, that is genius.
posted by gwenlister at 11:16 AM on July 21, 2008

I put my valuables in a box at the bottom of my laundry basket. If I'm on a long vacation, I'll leave extra boxers spilling over the sides with a special pair that I decorated with chocolate syrup right on top.
posted by studentbaker at 11:16 AM on July 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

In a safe deposit box at the bank.

Not ingenious, but indubitably safe.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 11:17 AM on July 21, 2008 [5 favorites]

I have a hollow book that I keep stuff in, though not valuables.
posted by at 11:18 AM on July 21, 2008

inside a picture frame, between the backing paper and the picture
posted by Nelson at 11:20 AM on July 21, 2008

In the freezer, under the hot dogs.
posted by carsonb at 11:22 AM on July 21, 2008

There's always the fake soiled underwear brief safe.
posted by ShooBoo at 11:23 AM on July 21, 2008

Best answer: Inside an inflated 16.5 spare tire. 16.5s are perfect for this because they don't have a locking bead, deflate the tire and it comes off the rim. Inflation is a might bit harder. Small tubeless tires like those on wheel barrows are often like this as well.
posted by Mitheral at 11:25 AM on July 21, 2008

Best answer: I don't have an valuables to hide, but I wouldn't hesitate to hide them inside a litter box (protected from cats in some way).
posted by drezdn at 11:30 AM on July 21, 2008

this is a Hiding place, not a Secured hiding place, right?
What you're looking for in that case is commonly called a "diversion safe" = looks like something innocuous/boring ignored when hunting for valuables.
If you have the know-how to cut drywall, or have an installed outlet that has already been dismantled (unused phone jack wall plates work too and don't have the scary-electricity factor), these are nice, especially after being painted over, etc. ->
Outlet Safe.
posted by bartleby at 11:35 AM on July 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

I think a "diversion safe" is the big heavy bank-vault style safe you use as an end-table. It contains nothing, and the thieves get hernias trying to drag it out. A nice variation on that might be an old safe door, but nothing else, mounted flush against a wall. That'd be hilarious. In fact, that's such a swell idea that I think I'll put some of these behind EVERY PICTURE hanging in my house.

I've been burgled a few times in a few places, and though I never used it as a hiding place, the toilet tank lid was removed or ajar every single time... so I think that particular "secret" is long out of the bag. Blame Hollywood.

Also, books were all dumped from the bookshelves onto the floor two times. I was offended. I've never had book-safes either, but I admire them.
posted by rokusan at 11:40 AM on July 21, 2008 [7 favorites]

bondcliff's got it if you have an uncomfortable hunk of metal you're looking to hide.
posted by JaredSeth at 11:43 AM on July 21, 2008

In my fire resistant gun safe. The one my 60 pound, excitable ex-junkyard dog sleeps in front of, when he sleeps at all. The gun safe stands in the alcove outside my paranoid schizophrenic, ex-Army, brother's bedroom, right under the motion sensor for the wireless burglar alarm. Of course, none of that is what I think of as primary security, so WCityMike's concerns aren't mine.

I live in Florida, a castle doctrine state and the origin of Stand Your Ground. Come on down!
posted by paulsc at 11:46 AM on July 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

Sewn into a stuffed animal thrown in a kids' room with a bunch of other stuffed animals. Actually I've never done this, but I know people who have. I think a big laundry basket full of old T-shirts works well, as does inside a ziplock bag inside the opened bag of corn in the freezer or down inside the flour.
posted by mygothlaundry at 11:47 AM on July 21, 2008

Best answer: Buy two identical kitty litter trays that stack. Put the valuables in the bottom one and the litter in the top one. If they're the kind with a rim/lip, cut it off the bottom one so that it's better hidden by the lip/rim of the top one. If you wanna get old-school, crack the lip of the top one and then tape it up with duct-tape while surreptitiously taping the two trays together.
posted by dobbs at 11:48 AM on July 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

Oh, another place is taped to the underside of the drawer in the bottom of the stove. I think thieves often check the underside of dresser drawers but dunno about stove ones.
posted by dobbs at 11:54 AM on July 21, 2008

I once kept $300 in Chapter 3 of Das Kapital ("Money, or the Circulation of Commodities").
posted by nasreddin at 11:58 AM on July 21, 2008 [3 favorites]

According to the star of Burn Notice, you should go with the inside of your walls. Not a very realistic proposal, but now you know what an actor who plays an ex-CIA agent thinks.
posted by UrineSoakedRube at 11:59 AM on July 21, 2008

It Takes a Thief has been replaying on the Discovery Channel for the past few weeks. On the show, most of the burgled family's super secret hiding places are found pretty quickly, including ovens, bottom of the hamper, beneath mattresses, and so on.

The only one I saw that was successful was a hidden panel in a bedframe.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 12:02 PM on July 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

Along with exposed brick, my 1970s-era apartment also has a lot of masonite paneling. I obtained a matching length of it and installed it on the inside top of the closet, which has masonite paneling facing out but nothing behind it inside the closet.
posted by vkxmai at 12:09 PM on July 21, 2008

Mod note: Enough with the jokes. Answer the question, please.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:12 PM on July 21, 2008

I read a whole book on real burglars, and the best advice therein was to throw them something to make them think they'd hit the jackpot - meaning they'd think that was it and leave.

Decide what NOT having your entire living space tossed/destroyed would be worth to you - leave the cash equivalent in a money clip near the front door/on your dresser, as if you forgot it. Depending on your neighborhood and what they might hope to get, this might be $100, or it might be $500.

Meanwhile, hide everything else in the walls. The book also pointed out that most people tend to hide things in personal areas (i.e., bedrooms), so those get searched more thoroughly. Hide stuff in the garage, or the laundry room.
posted by timepiece at 12:21 PM on July 21, 2008 [4 favorites]

I do think the tampon/other feminine products box was genius, as are the kitty litter suggestions (saw that used in a book once, but I can't remember where). Also - at the bottom of the kitchen trash can, under the bag (but only if there's trash in it).
posted by timepiece at 12:47 PM on July 21, 2008

Behind the fridge.
posted by Mrs. Buck Turgidson at 12:54 PM on July 21, 2008

The toilet tank and in the freezer have been in movies, thus are not good hiding places. In some area burglars will look in the freezer for meat to take.

What you need to keep in mind is that burglars will search your house in a quick and destructive way. The book you think is well hidden amongst other books may not be after someone shoves the entire bookcase over.

Of course it would be foolish to post a hiding spot one uses on a public forum, but here are a few ideas. You could hide things in the crawl space, burglars don´t usually venture into that area. Buy a large heavy worthless electronic thing and hide stuff in there. Reupholster your couch with valuables hidden inside.

You might also want to let any heirs you have know about where these valuables are. I think the serial numbers on that money were recorded though. You might leave the story of what happened after you parachuted out of the plane for them to publish posthumously. I´ll buy a copy.
posted by yohko at 12:57 PM on July 21, 2008

Best answer: I heard about hiding cash rolled up inside a closet rod.
posted by what-i-found at 1:06 PM on July 21, 2008

In the toilet tank in a waterproof container.
Read this 2-part interview with a burglar. The toilet tank is one of the first places they look because homeowners think a burglar wouldn't look there.

Places like picture frames and kitty litter boxes don't work well because burglars are going to grab anything of value and trashing the place as they go. So the painting along with the money will be stolen to be sold and the money in the kitty litter is going to be found as soon as they kick it over. Same goes for laundry hampers. They're also going to run their hands along every dark nook, cranny, and undersurface.

Most burglars are crack addicts looking to grab anything of value as quickly as possible, not international jewel thieves. So anyplace that would be tedious to dig through, completely out of the way, and of no value would be ideal. Consider the bottom of a bag of heavy snow chains beneath all the junk in the garage or in a stuffed kids toy among discarded toys like mygothlaundry suggested.
posted by junesix at 1:11 PM on July 21, 2008 [2 favorites]

Have used the hollowed out book method, which I think works if you have lots of books.

A true story of successfully hiding other types of "valuables" . . . a friend of a friend works as a pro domme and would often travel with a fairly expensive set of gear (which I'll leave to your imagination). After having had gear pilfered from her checked luggage, she resorted to this trick: before leaving, gear was placed in a bag marked "dirty" and latex toys sprinkled with some powdered chocolate pudding mix were placed on top as the first thing one would find if they opened the bag. Nothing ever went missing from her luggage again!
posted by donovan at 1:30 PM on July 21, 2008

My old, antique dresser has a false back. There's nothing in it now but I used to keep money in there as a kid when $100 meant more.
posted by spamguy at 1:35 PM on July 21, 2008

It worked for hiding my "friend's" pornography from his parents, so why not try hiding valuables in a roleplaying game box (like Battletech).
posted by drezdn at 1:56 PM on July 21, 2008

When I travel, I keep some of my spare cash and a photocopy of my documents in a tampon box. I guess a pregnancy test, box of hair dye, or other insignificant boxed bathroom supply could work at home.

Behind or beneath a heavy appliance, especially one that can't easily be tipped over in the available space (like in a tight laundry room).

DO tell someone if you've got stash spots. After my grandmother's death, we had to inspect every aerosol can in the house to see if it was actually one of those safes, and jewelry and cash was tucked away all over the place.
posted by Lyn Never at 2:51 PM on July 21, 2008

the underside of formica counter tops is dark, hard to look up into, and nearly the same color as a manila envelope. plus noone's going to tip your cabinets over since they're screwed to the wall. just don't forget it's there come remodeling time, or some subcontractor's gonna get a nice involuntary tip
posted by Redhush at 3:46 PM on July 21, 2008

Don't keep cash; keep traveler's checks. They still don't collect interest but they can be replaced.

I've used the hollowed out book in a business, and it worked; they took the loose and rolled change from the cash drawer, but the deposit was in a book, and was safe. My sense of security was not intact.

If there's space under the kitchen counter, behind a drawer, you could attach a small container there - it's dark.
posted by theora55 at 3:51 PM on July 21, 2008

Best answer: There's nothing like a safe to keep your money in. A friend of mine, however, made good use of his rottweiler during high school. He attached spare house keys behind the dog's ID in the collar. You could hardly notice them there, and even if you did you'd have a hell of a time getting them.
posted by Zeker at 4:05 PM on July 21, 2008 [6 favorites]

Unscrew the cover of an air vent and hide stuff up there. Just don't forget it come moving time.
posted by Bella Sebastian at 4:34 PM on July 21, 2008

I used to stash stuff inside disemboweled VHS tapes. I'd take out the actual magnetic tape to make space, but leave the reels in (if they were visible through the window). The fact that VHS tapes are almost obsolete might actually improve the security - my 18-year old Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles VHS must be even more repulsive than ever in the age of DVD/Blu-Ray.
posted by krippledkonscious at 4:38 PM on July 21, 2008

If I recall it correctly, the end of Maclean's novel Ice Station Zebra hinged on a hidden pistol in the fuel tank of a tractor in the Arctic. It was safe and undamaged for the climactic scene because unlike the rest of the base, the petrol didn't freeze up.
There was also Asimov's short story where a murder was discovered because one of the scientist-suspects hid a piece of undeveloped film with a latent image outside on a moonbase, without thinking that the sunrise would expose it.
Long time since I've read either though.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 4:45 PM on July 21, 2008

Kitty litter as a safe was used in "The Matlock Paper" by Robert Ludlum.

For my personal goodies, I like bank safety deposit boxes and offsite backups.
posted by arcticseal at 5:23 PM on July 21, 2008

I remember a gov't official was busted for corruption not too long ago and the FBI found his money quite the freezer.
posted by storybored at 5:57 PM on July 21, 2008

I once hid $100 as a teenager inside an old-ish computer case (one obviously not worth stealing).

Unfortunately, it was hidden so well that I promptly forgot about it. Fortunately, I felt like I'd won $100 once I discovered my overly-ingenious hiding place. Good thing I was a tinkerer and prefer dismembering old computers than simply throwing them out.
posted by astrochimp at 9:02 PM on July 21, 2008

In a safe deposit box at the bank.
Not ingenious, but indubitably safe.

Unless you happen to live near a river
posted by jpdoane at 9:09 PM on July 21, 2008

When my apartment was broken into every obvious container was searched; every drawer, hamper, shelf, storage container, the dryer, the freezer, were emptied onto the floor and inspected. A burglar will go through your medicine cabinet (prescription and otc drugs can be resold), so I'm not sure the tampon container is a good idea. I would not hide something in a book or under clothes or food. When I was broken into, they took cash, jewelry, leftover pasta, and toiletries (deodorant, clean underwear, and makeup). If you want to hide personal things, do not put them in or under other personal belongings.

If I had something small and of great value to hide, I would put it in a light fixture. There are usually two or three screws to pull out to get into the junction box in the wall or ceiling. No thief would take a light off the wall, especially if he needs the light to look into other more obvious hiding places. (And please don't start a fire or electrocute yourself doing this.)

In my current place we have a trap door into the crawlspace hidden under some rugs in the bathroom floor. If I wanted to hide something I'd make a shelf on the side of one of the floor joists within arm's reach. It has the advantage of being out of sight as well as something that deters people from searching for because of the heebie-jeebie factor of sticking you arm in a dark and damp hole that possibly contains spiders and snakes and ghosts. Or if you have a sump pump, put a waterproof bag in your sump pit instead of the toilet tank.
posted by peeedro at 12:46 AM on July 22, 2008 [2 favorites]

As timepiece says, I also tend to leave a bit of cash in my top drawer as a deterrant to trashing the rest of the house. I will also leave out an old spare laptop and other things that I wouldn't mind losing as much as my main computer.

I sometimes leave spare sets of keys at work, unlabelled so it's not clear what they are for.

Earlier this year I had to take out a lot of money to pay for a rental deposit in cash. I was staying in a hotel at the time and it was extremely difficult to find a hiding place there. The hair colour or tampon box suggestion sounds like a good one for those situations.

Agree that it is important to tell others what you have done - I know of people who have hidden their wills and other documents, but sent letters to relatives with instructions on finding it.
posted by wingless_angel at 4:48 AM on July 22, 2008

Unscrew the cover of an air vent and hide stuff up there. Just don't forget it come moving time.
posted by Bella Sebastian at 10:34 AM on July 22 [+] [!]

No Country for Old Men, anyone? The Doctor would suggest a location one second out of sync with reality, but that might be a bit hard.

It really depends on time and the particular item. You could hide something really well, but if they have enough time/motivation they'll find it. So don't hide anything truly valuable or irreplaceable. Put those sort of things in a deposit box, as suggested.

If you have time, and a spare person to help you, try out a few different ideas; hide a ring in the frozen peas, and give your friend 30 minutes (or whatever the average time for a robbery is) to find it. Look at where he looks, where he doesn't, what fools him, what doesn't, and adjust based on the results. Then, swap roles (they hide, you find) and rinse and repeat.

As the old saying goes don't lump all your eggs together in one basket; hide a few items in one place, and a few others in a completely different location. Sometimes you can hide things in plain sight, as well.

My current hiding place is the between a slide in shelf and the wall of my wardrobe. There's a little gap where I can keep a few flat things (like a key).
posted by oxford blue at 7:14 AM on July 22, 2008

If you have a carpet floor, you can hide documents under the padding.

Hiding things behind light switches, electrical outlets and ceiling fan motors works well too because checking every fixture is time consuming.

If you have live in a house you can put it up your chimney.
posted by abdulf at 4:00 PM on July 22, 2008

Haven't done it yet, and haven't been robbed, but I've always wanted to pick up an old safe and use it as a decoy. Keep it empty (or full of junk) and locked, and put it in a closet. I'd always hoped that they'd think they'd hit the jackpot, spend a while hauling it out the door, and take off.

And I hope they don't come burn my house down when they realize it was empty.
posted by fogster at 8:47 AM on July 24, 2008

I like to store things in my doghouse. It smells rather funky and with the roof shape, it is great for holding/storing stuff that won't be hurt by the outdoor heat. I like the idea of leaving decoys out to be found. I have a few old crappy broken laptops that would be great stacked up for this very purpose. A spare key can be sewn to the skin-side of the dog's collar.

Hhhmmmm... I wonder if it would be worth it to pack my old computer case with bricks as a decoy, too. That would be funny to put in a police report.
posted by Emintx at 11:50 AM on July 25, 2008

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