Ex-Burglar Spills Secrets To Help People Avoid Being Robbed (64 Answers)
Life isn’t as scary as it might seem on the TV, but that doesn’t mean that you can completely throw the question of security out of your living room window. You need to be aware that there are some baddies out there who are simply waiting for their chance to ransack someone’s home and steal your hard-earned belongings. They might not reach Gotham villain levels of dastardly evilness, but you’re not a superhero either. You need to be prepared, you need to be realistic.
Ironically enough, it’s sometimes villains that can protect you from other villains, as redditor AsleepFondant proved. They asked former burglars to offer some advice about where people really shouldn’t be hiding their valuables, and, wow, did they deliver. It’s making us reconsider a lot of things that we took for granted. For instance, safes might not be as safe as you think while closets shouldn’t be where you store your jewelry.
Scroll down and let us know if any of these tips changed your perspective on home security. Oh, and a small reminder that you should NEVER reveal to anyone where you actually hide your valuables. Even if it’s anonymously on the internet. Stay safe. Stay smart.
I reached out to redditor AsleepFondant to have a talk about their viral thread on r/AskReddit. They revealed to Bored Panda what the inspiration for the question was. "For starters, the area I live in is not the safest and I have experience of having my house broken into when I was a little kid, so you could say it's something that is on my mind," they said. Scroll down for our exclusive interview with AsleepFondant, dear Readers.
By the way, if you’re curious about some other tips and tricks ex-burglars shared, you really ought to check out this recent article about home security on Bored Panda.
#1This doesn't exactly answer the question asked, but it is a tip on potentially protecting your valuables. Bear with me because it's a bit strange: Glue a spare key (not one that opens something important) under your door mat. Weird right?
A few years ago I did this in addition to installing cameras. Over the last couple of years I've seen this exact scenario play out: thief walks to the door, checks under the mat, unsuccessfully tries to grab the key, backs up, looks around to see if anyone is watching (presumably because they think they have fallen for some trap/prank where they are being surveilled), and LEAVES. They don't even search for another way in because it spooks them.
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I was curious to get the redditor's take on how to defend our home from would-be burglars and evildoers of every kind. Here's the advice that they gave Bored Panda: "The best defense is probably not having your house be an easy target to start with. Put up security screens, lock your doors and windows, cut overgrown plants and put up signs like 'beware of the dog'/'security cameras.'" They pointed out that you should probably put these signs up even if you don't own a dog or any cameras.
I also wanted the original poster's opinion about whether or not we should trust the advice of ex-criminals when it comes to security. "That's a tough one," they said. "Being criminals, I would say it's best to take their advice with a grain of salt, but on the other hand who better to ask then the people doing the burgling themselves, the burglars."
What's more, the redditor shared a bit of their experience about staying smart on the streets, especially in areas that aren't as safe. "I have found that generally if you keep to yourself (like not involving yourself or trying to break up in fights) and don't look at shady people, you will be fine."
#2I've seen people make false outlets for hiding valuables like cash and jewelry. Just an idea, a burglar would have to be at your home for a long time to start checking outlets.
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#3As a troubled teen, I robbed schools. I can say this: lock your damn windows. 99% of the time we got in with unlocked windows.
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The author of the thread, AsleepFondant, shared with Bored Panda that they were caught completely unaware by just how popular their thread was. They had no clue the question would go so viral. In fact, it was the very first time their post on Reddit got so much attention.
"I didn't expect it to blow up at all, I was shocked as that's the first time anything I have ever posted has blown up to that degree," they told me. They joked that they wish they'd posted the question on their main Reddit account, considering how much people liked it.
#4Your shed. Seriously. LOCK YOUR SHED. Even if your house is well-locked, if your shed isn't, I likely have access to a plethora of tools I can use to gain access.
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#5Fire safes only are safe from fires.
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#6Any safe that's not bolted down and is small enough for 1-2 people to carry isn't safe at all.
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It’s not just burglars that we should watch out for. We also have to be aware of how safe we are online. After all, online shopping scams and swindles can be someone’s way to worm themselves into your wallet or to get private information.
Earlier, I’d reached out to the moderator team that manages the r/Scams subreddit for a few comments about online safety. According to one of the mods, online scams are a very different beast than real-life swindles.
"I think online shopping scams are different because you lose that layer of dealing with a real-life person. When you have a real person in front of you, a typical person will feel shame or guilt at the thought of taking advantage of a person,” they told Bored Panda.
#7Oh, and thanks for locking drawers. That way I know exactly where the valuables are. I can open that cheap wood drawer as quickly with a crowbar as pulling it open.
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#8My cousin lives in a bad neighborhood, so she went to a thrift store, bought an obvious-looking jewelry box and a bunch of expensive looking costume jewelry that’s actually worthless and put it in the box. She keeps this in a conspicuous place. Then she leaves a few 20s on top. This way if someone breaks in, they will grab this and run, ignoring some of her well-hidden valuables.
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#9You’d be surprised at how often people leave their cars unlocked with nice things inside. A lot of people actually leave them unlocked with the keys inside. It’s how the majority of cars are stolen.
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“With the internet, you aren't dealing with a person, but a username and avatar. It is much easier to act maliciously when you don't have a real victim directly in front of you,” they said.
"Online scams also use a lot of tricks to pressure buyers; low prices, pushes to buy now!, taking advantage of someone's kindness or naivete (re: advance check fraud, money mules, etc), or advertising one product and sending another (or nothing at all, by using a fake tracking number). Getting a person to make a decision via high-pressure tactics and preventing them from reflecting and making a sound decision is key," the moderator from r/Scams explained how some scammers work.
#10Don't leave things out that people can see from outside your home or car. If you buy a new TV or computer break down the box it came in. Don't just leave it by your garbage bin.
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#11Had my house burglarized by a so-called friend. He missed by far the most valuable thing. it’s just a safe sitting on the laundry room floor. He missed it because I’m a scumbag and had it covered with a mountain of dirty clothes and towels. So not being tidy saved me upwards of $35K.
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#12I'm going to keep a small safe in the living room with a giant foam middle finger inside for when the day comes.
"If a deal is too good to be true, it is. If you see a pair of brand new Apple AirPods advertised for $50, you are not getting an authentic product. There are many counterfeit items out there on the market, and you need to verify authenticity before hitting buy," they said that we should follow our gut instinct and listen to it if it’s warning us.
"Not only to avoid contributing to the counterfeit market, but because these knockoff products do not always go through the same safety standards of the real item; they may not be UL certified, they may use chemicals or ingredients that are not FDA approved and are unsafe for use on or in the human body, or could cause major harm to human life or property."
#13DON'T USE KEY RACKS OR BOWLS NEXT TO THE DOOR! The amount of stolen cars where the burglar takes one step into the house, picks up the keys to the family car and leaves immediately is just sad.
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#14Not a former burglar, but my house was robbed before which made my dad want to hide his work laptop the next time we went out. Little did anyone else know, he decided to hide it in the oven. We only realized this after my mom finished cooking dinner and smelled something strange. He should have learned his lesson then, but maybe 2 moths later he decided to hide a laptop in the microwave, because you can’t miss the laptop when it is the only thing in the microwave, right? Later that day my sister needed to use a minute timer to get something so she just hit the 1 minute button on the microwave without checking. Trying to hide laptops costed my dad 2 of them so maybe don’t hide them there.
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#15Don’t keep your spare key outside near the front door — under a pot plant, under doormat, top of door frame etc.
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Something else that can give you an extra layer of security is switching your debit card for a credit card. "Credit card protections for most cards are much more forgiving than debit cards. You can generally get your money back faster if you were scammed or misled by a business, versus initiating an investigation through your bank. It is always smarter to pay by credit card (and pay off your balance monthly!)."
#16For the college kids that might read this, don't keep your textbooks in your car. On the day of my finals I had about six textbooks I was gonna sell in my car. Came back to find someone broke my window and stole the textbooks. Cop told me that it's very common and unlikely they will catch the guy, so I was out ~$700, which was huge as a college student.
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#17LED lighting is cheap these days. If your house is gonna be vacant for a while, consider investing in one of those smart-lighting systems where you can set different rooms to turn on and off at different points in the day. (Kitchen during dinnertime, bedrooms at night, etc.)
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#18Also side note, I use to do door to door sales for ADT... people would let me in the house and just tell me where all the important stuff was before even verifying I was legit..... don’t do that.
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#19We had a huge safe that takes 2-3 people to move. They broke into my house and flipped everything all over searching, but when they found the safe they left everything else and focused on taking that. I even had IPads and Rolex watches lying around in open. Point is, we kept the safe empty, would only keep a few fake pieces of jewelry in case there was ever a home invasion we could offer them something to take.
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#20Fun fact - aunt died, and had valuables hidden throughout the house. She was a cranky old cur, the one who had a ton of dough, no offspring, didn't donate, and thought she could take it with her. Well, hell. When she died, I helped out my elderly parents clean out her place. Instead of just being able to throw away the junk and pile up the clothes and other items to donation centers, we had to rifle through every pocket, every damn planter, pot and pan, etc. It was sort of fun, but took a hell of a long time. From what I recall, there was a few hundred bucks inside a few planters, 4.5k in the bottom part of an unused planter, under some little foam brick you stick fake flowers into, that was tucked way in the back of a cabinet, jewelry stashed in the arm of a leather couch, more money in some sewing drawer, a few hundred bucks in several jackets, etc. I took forever to go through every goddamn pocket, sock, drawer, container of nails and buttons, etc. Gotta admit, sorta fun as well. She never told any of us that she had money hidden. My mother just had a hunch.
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#21Pro tip: Hide your small valuables inside a used/empty fire extinguisher, no one is going to steal a fire extinguisher...
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#22My husband is so good at hiding things from burglars that there are a number of valuable items that we have never found again. So hiding things is fine, but remembering where you hid them is just as important.
#23Former crime reporter here. Tampon box and kitty litter are good. I've also seen false outlets that are safe as a safe.
I don't think burglars are the best folks to ask. Check with drug dealers, they're the best at hiding stuff.
#24I'm going to look under your bed, I'm going to dump out any drawer I find. I'm checking your freezer. I'm looking under the bathroom cabinet. Think that incredibly smart hiding spot you saw in a spy movie will work? We watch spy movies too. It's really going to be a matter of security versus convenience for you. If it takes me more than a minute to get to something (and don't forget I'm more than willing to break s**t to get to stuff) then it's not worth my trouble. I want to be out of your house in less than 15 minutes tops.
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#25Closets — gold mine for jewelry.
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#26We had our apartment burglarized. Guy kicked down the door, and apparently was in and out pretty quickly. I came home from work, and the cop told me, "Never leave valuables in your nightstand." Might have even said bottom drawer. Sure enough, mine were checked, i could tell because my envelopes were moved from where i placed them.
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#27I read somewhere that if a thief sees a home security alarm sign 90% of them walk away. A friend of mine bought a ADT security sign off Ebay for this very reason.
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#28On your social media page.
Dont post photos of expensive stuff you just bought on Facebook. You might think it's cool to show it off, but to a would be theif, it just becomes a shopping list.
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#29Don't set your satnav "home" as where you live. If I've stolen your car keys while you're out, I likely have your house key too, know where you live and know you're not home.
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#30Inside vacuum cleaner. We hid money in it and it got stolen with everything else in the house back in Syria. Edit: “thief” was the military forces that invaded the area not someone I know or someone desperate.
#31My cousin had her place burgled while she was away getting married. They stole all of her jewelry, her brother who died gold chain, other valuables. So it seems that someone on her social media found out she was away getting married and robbed the place.
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#32This will get burried, but here we go.
Not a burglar but some broke into my family's house 4 or 5 years ago when we were out on a concert. They checked everything - took all money and jewelry they could find.
Except! My room was a mess to begin with. I left piles of clothes on the floor, my study desk messy af, left piles of papers on both desk and floor (i was in a hurry before we all left and was searching for something I can quite remember now.
Now. I had 800€ and golden earrings on my desk, just sitting there.
The burglars opened the doors... and didn't move a thing. Left my 800€ and golden earrings alone and moved to another room.
From then on I have been using this as an excuse why I don't need to clean up my room.
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#33I heard a lot of people hide stuff in the air vents, is it searched usually?
Also, my mum used to hide what little valuables we had in a small space behind our washing machine, a really heavy one. Except if you knew it was there you couldn't know there was a space here, and that it was accessible.
She had to spend 10-15 minutes hiding stuff because it was really hard to access, so I guess that burglars wanting to do their thing as quickly as possible wouldn't spend time looking there.
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#34Had my home burgled twice. Best place to hide jewelry is in the bottom hem of your curtains. Taking off a valuable ring before you shower but don't want to go all the way to your jewelry box hidey hole? Tuck them in the curtain hem. It's not a long term solution, but getting into the habit of keeping your good shit out of plain sight will save you on the day someone breaks in. It is so easy to leave earrings/rings/bracelets laying around.
#35Don't put pics on Facebook /social media of you and your family going on a week long trip from the airport
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#36Don't try to hide something valuable like money inside of old boxes. When I was younger, I thought, that hide money inside of old headphones box would be great idea, because no one would expect to find them there. We lived in village, and we had to burn a furnace to keep house warm, and my mother almost put that headphone box with money inside of furnace, but they've just falled out on the floor.
#37The medicine cabinet or bathroom. I'll just scoop all the drugs out into a bag.
#38Don’t leave stuff in your car. When I was in high school, we did our fair share of carhopping.
#39I’m an electrician and was on a job installing some wall fixtures for a customer, we found $3500 in an octagon box. I told the customer about the find and he’d stashed it there when they bought the house 15yrs prior. I guess even he forgot about it being there, he did give me a handsome tip of $300 for being honest about finding it and not keeping it since he would have never known.
#40My grandfather had a huge safe in the basement.
Inside that safe was another, smaller safe.
And inside that other smaller safe was, you guessed it, an even smaller safe.
When he got sick and had to be in the hospital for awhile he started telling everybody, from the people in line at the fast food place to the nurses, how we was okay because all his stuff was in this unbreakable safe in his basement. People thought he was crazy.
Of course what was bound to happen happened and one time when he was out to the hospital someone broke into his home. When he got back maybe a week later, he saw that the first 2 safes we're opened but the guy gave up on the smallest one. Good for him because there wasn't anything in that last safe either. We had a good laugh about it for the 3 years he was still alive, trying to picture the would-be robber's face when he saw the third safe.
So I guess one place you SHOULD keep your valuables is a safe inside a safe inside another safe. Robbers are lazy.
#41I had a malamute dog years ago, had another two later, but this was a particularly fluffy one. A friend had heard that it was possible to spin their fur, so I saved enough to knit several jumpers.
Anyway, a burglar took stuff from our garage and this massive box of fur too, must've been quite a surprise.
#42Don't leave your car unlocked on your driveway with a garage opener inside.
#43I was never a burglar per se but in my younger days I had a penchant for criminal mischief. (And a total inability to weigh the consequences of my actions, but that's a different story.)
This isnt an answer to this direct question, but a pretty important word of advice:
If you really want to protect your house from people breaking and entering, all you need is a BEWARE OF DOG sign... Alarm systems arent enough, as pretty much nobody bothers arming them. A Beware of Dog sign though, even if you dont have a dog, is a clear indication that this house is not easy prey, and the trespassers will move on.
#44My mom always told me the best way to hide stuff is to put it in plain sight, so when she was trying to quit cigarettes I put the carton on top of a painting, right over the frame it took her 3 weeks to spot i
#45If you have a garage sale at your house make sure to not have anything of value around and be vigilant in the days after. We were broken into two days after a garage sale, after living in the house 20+ years without a single incident.
#46In unopened vehicles, dresser drawers, closet, under a mattress, in the cupboards over the sink. The only real safe place for valuables is in a standing or hidden safe. We look everywhere. Whenever I get my own place I'm going to have security cameras, and iron on my windows and doors and plenty of light outside my house.
#47Not a burglar, but honestly I would advice this; get good insurance coverage on things you value. If they want to come in, they'll find a way. No matter how well you think you protect your house, they will find an entry. It would be your best bet to cover all expensive items with insurance and MAKE SURE to always have either a cloud copy or a removable drive copy of important files/photo's that is not right next to your computer. This way, if they steal you computer, you'll still have the files.
#48Lol my dad and 2 uncles were once looking after my house for my grandma (they were about 11, 17 and 18) when the heard someone knocking about the garage, so my dad and uncle (18 and 17) went out and found a burgular, and threatened to beat him up if he didn't leave the property. He had his ladder next to the garage to try and get in from the top (idk what he was doing that for), and as he left he asked if he could at least take his ladder with him. To this day my dad still has that ladder
#49Not a burglar but learned this from my sister who would steel stuff from our mom while cleaning, if its in a place they can find it just by cleaning the maid style burglar will find it. Under the bed or a pillow. underneath the bag in the trashcan in the worst becuase even if its discovered missing thier is possible deniability.
Also for the older not tech savy people do not hide money in the fucking optical drive (aka where you put the CDs and DVDs) on your computer. Idk why my grandma thought that was a good hiding spot.
#50Serious question here. What about medications? I have to take quite a few. If someone stole them they wouldn't get them high, most likely cause them to OD or die quickly. I still worry about this though. I cannot go without each medication daily or it will put me in the hospital.
#51Inside one of those small lock boxes. It's great when you find one because there simple to open and if they don't have a wall safe then all of their main valuables and money are usually in it .. jackpot
#52A safe. Also, almost all locks are bullshit unless you had a locksmith put in security pins, but the robbers can just take the safe and figure it out later if time is an issue.
#53Not a burglar, but our home has been broken into. We only had the one-bedroom at the time, but the places that the burglar looked into were: the closet (everything was thrown out), desk drawers (found a bit of cash and our passports were taken), the entry furniture (drawers), under the bed / bedside tables. At least now I know where not to hide valuables. Not that I have any.
#54Open garage is an easy one. People work in there garage all the time with the door wide open makes for an easy case. I can walk or drive by and see you have a couple dirt bikes, some nice tools on the wall and other miscellaneous goodies, chances are my former self will wait for you to leave. Some people have the audacity to even leave there garage door open overnight making it incredibly easy.
#55Obligatory not a criminal in anyway But dont keep ur valuables in the freezer
#56Not a burglar but I feel like having 2 big 80lb dogs that will growl and bark if someone who isn't me or my girlfriend come to any window or door.
#57Keep things locked solidly. Bar locks for Windows and sliding doors, shatter resistant film on all glass.
solid door frames and solid door's. Locks on bedroom doors and solid door's.
Don't leave tool's and secure the garage door. Dont hide keys. Thick curtains on Windows drawn House insurance covering robberies Plants under windows with thorns Don't advertise guns most robberies occur while you're working.
You can't stop a determined person but most will leave for easier places. Also only dummies bring a gun and your tv can be replaced you can't be.
Source a retired burglar who is 80 year's old
#58Your locks are almost always junk, especially those little lockboxes. If you have the tools and training, it only takes a few seconds to unlock it. That's true with padlocks as well...a good burglar can open a padlock almost as fast as if they had the key or combination. Never hide your valuables in a lazy location that is beyond obvious and simply trust that $5 lock to prevent anything.
If you don't have a heavy, bolted safe, the most logical conclusion is that your valuables are very, very close to where it takes you the least effort to get to them (jewelry is all very close together where you get dressed, money is near the main work desk, prescriptions are in the medicine cabinet, recreational drugs are close to where you sleep, etc.) Think about it...no burglar is going into the basement into your can of screws, to your bag of corn in the freezer, or in the pantry Pringles can to find valuables. A good burglar knows that he needs to get the job done quickly with as little noise and wandering as possible. The bedroom and main work area are obvious locations. If they are quick and easy for you to get to from the place you use them, they aren't in a good location.
#59My mother has a closet filled with food supplies, boxes of bags of spices and such. There's at least 3 dozen such boxes at all times in said closet. ONE OF THEM, and she replaces it regularly so the expiration date remains relevant, she opens up carefully, fills with valuables, and then carefully closes back up.
She had me try to find which one of the boxes it was. I genuinely couldn't tell from sight alone, only the slightly different heft tipped me off after 10 minutes. No burglar will ever find that stash.
#60Not a burglar or former burglar, but NEVER hide keys and lock combinations in a jar near the door or under your welcome mat.
Also, if you purchase something big, like a tv or something big, never leave the box near your home. the burglar would see it and know you have something valuable in there.
I know this sounds crazy, but mow your lawn frequently. it’ll show that you have been and had enough time to mow your lawn and that someone must be there
it’s obvious, but only announce your trips when your finished so at first nobody knows your not there.
#61Fake rocks are a dead giveaway. Sock drawers are cliche. If you have a small safe that’s not bolted down we are taking that thing. We all have a “safe guy.” Our goal is to get in and out pretty quickly. If you hide something in a random box all the way up in your attic, it’s probably safe.
Whatever you do, please don’t leave your damn kid at home.