The average burglary is completed in just 8-12 minutes according to the FBI. Time is of the essence if you don’t want to get caught in the act! This means that burglars usually have fine-tuned priority lists when it comes to looking for valuables, they will hit the rooms and hiding places where people are most likely to keep valuables such as cash, jewellery, electronics and office equipment first.
While leaving items of value on display is like an open invitation and should obviously be avoided, there are some hiding places that might seem cunning, but are common and well-known opportunities for criminals.
Here’s where burglars search first when breaking in:
Master Bedroom: drawers, closets and under the mattress
Although 56% of burglars enter through the front or back door, their first port of call is almost always the master bedroom, which might seem surprising as this isn’t the closest place to start looking in most properties. It is, however, the most lucrative. So many people leave their jewellery, hidden cash and valuables in clothes drawers, closets or under the bed that this is definitely worth hitting first.
The first place to check? Under the mattress! Almost everyone hides something there. Although it’s a relatively safe place while you’re asleep, during waking hours it’s extremely vulnerable. It only takes a few seconds to check!
Bathrooms: medicine cabinets and toilet tanks
Your medicine cabinet is attractive for its own reasons. Burglars can make a quick buck from any interesting looking prescription drugs on the black market. This is something most people don’t think about, making the bathroom a seemingly unlikely spot for burglars to look. Imagine your intruder’s delight as he not only finds Granny’s pain medication, but also her diamond brooch tucked away in there. Jackpot! Burglars taking medications for themselves is also not uncommon.
Another great reason to hit the bathroom is the toilet tank. This may have been a clever hiding place before it was popularised in movies, but now, it’s a go to spot for burglars. We’ve all seen the gangsters hiding contraband in the cistern and the burglars have seen it too. Avoid hiding valuables there at all costs!
Living Room: drawers and in plain sight
This is a prime spot to look for car keys, personal documents and credit cards. If no valuables are left in plain sight, the burglar will turn to the drawers! Easy to open, easy to see the contents and easy to grab and tip out onto the floor if the need arises. The living room is also often located close to the entrance so if you have a panicked burglar, this may be the only place he checks.
The living room is also the most common place to store small safes. If the combination is turned one click or the safe is not bolted to the floor it can easily be carried away along with the valuables it’s protecting. For better security, avoid storing easy to grab items close to the door and bolt down any portable safes.
Kitchen: Cereal boxes, cans and the freezer
Whether this hiding place was popularised in movies is unknown, but many people use empty boxes, cans and the freezer to hide money, jewellery and even laptops!
Burglars will empty out your cereal boxes and tin cans looking for those fake stash ones which, unfortunately, usually look fake. He will also go into your freezer and through your dirty underpants in the laundry. Many people think these are pretty clever hiding places, but remember, it’s the burglar’s job to know this stuff, and he has already thought of it too.
The Study: shelves
If you have an office or study area in your home, this is a lovely spot to pick up any nice office equipment and your burglar will be rifling through your desk to see if any important looking documents or cash turns up. If you have a lovely bookshelf, you will likely find your little library strewn across the floor as this is a quick way to look for hollowed out stash-books.
The study also happens to be a common place to store laptops, printers and valuables on display (like the new Rolex watch you got for your birthday).
A modern child’s room can contain more valuables than the master bedroom. The rooms are likely littered with gaming consoles, laptops, expensive toys and maybe even some cash hidden by the parents. Yes, they will be looking under the mattress and going through little Jimmy’s drawers and wardrobes too because you’re not the only person who thought this might be a good hiding spot for valuables!
A safe is a great idea, but unless it is built into the wall, it’s likely that your intruder will be motivated to carry it away and break it open later. Keeping items in a small, lightweight and movable safe is a bit like gift-wrapping guaranteed swag for your burglar.
One of the most devastating effects of a burglary is the loss of sentimental items such as jewellery and personal documents. Another nasty side-effect of the burglar’s antics is the devastation of the property they didn’t take – furniture, homeware and objects that were smashed and strewn everywhere as the burglar searched for valuables. Even if they do not find what they are looking for, this mess is inevitable. However, think outside the box when it comes to stashing your valuables and you might be able to avoid at least part of the heartache.
Pro Tip: Leave a small money in one of these places to deter a burglar from destroying your home in their search. If a burglar thinks they’ve found your valuables, they’re not likely to continue looking for more. Suggested by a former burglar in an interview with SavingAdvice blog.
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Did we miss a common place burglars search when breaking in? Leave it in the comments below