Stop for a moment and try to think like a burglar. You cruise through a nice neighborhood a couple of times looking for clues. It doesn’t take long to find a house that sports all of the tell-tale signs of a prime target. The grass hasn’t been mowed in a while, newspapers are piled up at the door, and there are no lights on in the house.

You wait until late at night to make your move. You peek over the backyard fence and take a look around. No pets. Quietly easing your way into the backyard, you make your way over to the back door. The door looks pretty solid, but you notice that the windows don’t. You position your crowbar and pause for a moment. You know that, more than likely, the moment you pop that window open the alarm is going to sound, so you take a moment to prepare and focus. On three… 1…2….3! You pry open the window and the alarm sounds. You know that you only have minutes!

You first run to the kitchen and start searching through all of the cleaning supplies underneath the kitchen sink. Next, you make your way to the pantry where you fumble through the canned goods. You know right where the good stuff is, so you keep moving through the house. You hit the refrigerator and then go directly for the bathroom. Once in the bathroom, being an experienced burglar, you go straight for the hairspray and shaving cream canisters. You’ve hit the jackpot and it’s time to get out of there. Before you leave, you swing by a utility closet because you know these people just have to have one of those priceless cans of Fix-A-Flat in there! You make your way out of the house, get in your getaway car, and head home. Wow, you really cashed in big!

At this point you’re probably thinking to yourself, “That’s the worst burglar of all time! If I were him, I would have gone straight for the jewelry box and stolen all of the jewelry. Gold, silver, diamonds, pearls. You name it, and I would have found it and taken it. From there I would have searched through the drawers of the master bedroom to see if they were hiding any cash, guns, etc. I’d have also checked under the mattress, under the bed, and in the closet. On my way out, I’d have grabbed the keys to the car of my choice and driven their car out of there in style!”

Well, you’re absolutely right. That’s also exactly what a real burglar would have done. However, seeing as how I’m not a burglar, I’m sure a real professional could go through a house much faster than that and leave with way more of your valuable stuff.

We’ll discuss how to improve your home security in a later post, but assuming that someone does break into your home while you and your family are away, there are some actions you can take to make things a little more difficult for them once they’re inside.

Ladies, I know that antique jewelry box that you found for 70% off looks lovely on your dresser, but you might as well put up a giant neon sign that says, “Attention Criminals: Save Time and Make Big Money By Taking My Valuable Jewelry That I Was So Kind to Gather In One, Easy-To-Grab Location”.

Guys, I’m sure you worked real hard for that Rolex, but do you think a burglar might notice it if it’s sitting in a location no more than a few feet from your wife’s jewelry bullseye…I mean box, and probably resting right on top of your wallet?

We can’t secure your entire house in one post, so let’s focus on the small, but valuable items that most people have. For smaller items like jewelery, precious metals, cash, etc, a high-quality safe placed in a good location should do the trick. However, safes are heavy, take up a lot of room, and a good one can be expensive. In many cases, a safe just isn’t practical. What if you could secure your smaller valuables for less than $20 and make them far more difficult to locate than a safe?

When you first read my initial break in scenario, you were probably wondering what burglar in their right mind would first look under the kitchen sink, in the pantry, then the refrigerator, the bathroom, and finally a utility closet. Exactly. They wouldn’t. This is why I recommend that you invest in a few products that will allow you to store your valuables in plain sight, by using everyday household items as camouflage.

To help get you started, here are a few ideas in no particular order. The important thing about the items that I’ve suggested is that they are made from real products. It’s a lot more difficult for a criminal to spot a modified can of Dr. Pepper or Del Monte fruit than it is to notice a fictional can of “Fizzy Bubble Cola” or “Fruitastic Cocktail”. Stick with diversion safes made from real products and place them where you would place the real thing.

As the economy gets worse, and more people lose their jobs, the crime rate is likely to skyrocket as more people reach the point of desperation. With the holiday season approaching and people likely having the least amount of money they’ve had in years, you should expect break-ins to increase dramatically and take steps to prepare. Securing your home should be a top priority, but should your house become a target, you now know how to avoid the cliché hiding places and hide your valuables in plain sight, hopefully frustrating would-be burglars and preserving your property.

Luke Walker