Where to Hide Valuables in an Apartment

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This post is by Bernie Carr, apartmentprepper.com

Recently, one of our awesome readers, Sara, brought up a great question:

I was wondering if you could advise me for a particular apartment security measure?
I live in an apartment, but I am unable to drill holes into the floor. I am wondering what kind of safe I could buy and how I could secure it? This safe would ideally house a laptop and a few files. 
Hypothetically, if a thief were to access the safe in an empty house they could pick it up and carry it away if it is found, right?
I thought this was a timely question, as I have been thinking about writing about this subject.  Thanks for the question Sara!
Know What You’re Up Against
Ideally, a sturdy, hidden safe that is bolted to the floor would be a great place to hide valuables, but is not feasible in an apartment due to lease restrictions.  Normal safes are available, but can easily be picked up.  I used to have one, and it only weighed about 20-30 pounds – easy enough to carry.
Before getting into good hiding places, first we have to consider what motivates thieves:
1.  Their goal is to steal money and valuables.  If they had time, they would turn the place upside down looking for stuff.
2.  They need to get in and out quickly.  We’ve read before that a robber takes 8-12 minutes to steal as much as possible in that short amount of time.
3.  They also know the most common hiding places:  in the master bedroom, in the back of the closet, under the mattress, the medicine cabinet (prescription drugs may be attractive as well)  or in a toilet tank.
Knowing the above, it might be a good idea to leave a small amount of money or jewelry that is easily found; they may just rush out and take that, leaving the rest alone.  The small loss would also spare you having the entire place torn apart.
Here are a few ideas for hiding spots:
Safety deposit box
Many people still keep a safety deposit box at their neighborhood bank, but the downside is, you can only access your stuff while the bank is open.  There is always a chance the bank would be closed when you need you items the most.
Furniture with a hidden compartment
Furniture with hidden areas have been around for a long time, and they are still around.  The downside is they tend to be on the expensive side.
Here are some examples:  (Note:  we are not affiliated with this company-just pointing out the product)

Hidden in plain sight

Oil can safe
Oil can safe

Also known as diversion safes, they are fairly inexpensive and come in many varieties.  They tend to be small so you can only hide a few things.

Of course you’d have to hide the diversion safe among like items in a book shelf, kitchen or tool box.

Tip:  Don’t hide the item in another attractive item even if it’s in plain sight.  I’ve seen some mantle clocks that have hidden compartments – some a very pretty and eye-catching, and extremely portable.  I’d also stay away from hiding stuff inside radios or other electronics – they may steal that too, taking your item inadvertently and discovering it later!

Do it Yourself

  • Make a book safe  You can keep it among all your other books, and you can take it with you even while traveling.
  • Hide your item among frozen food in your freezer; maybe in a baggie within frozen raw meat that is large enough
  • Conceal item within a vase that has dusty fake flowers
  • Hide in a toy that is in a large toy box

The key is to remember where you hid it.  I’ve hidden a few items so well I couldn’t find them for months!

You should also tell someone you trust, to avoid them accidentally throwing the item away or selling it in a garage sale.

© Apartment Prepper 2014

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  1. Sara,
    Being a hamster habitat dweller as yourself I can sympathize with your situation.
    Here is a possible answer for your problem.
    Cheap and easy.
    Buy several cans of a food product that you use.
    Purchase a can opener that opens cans from the SIDE and not the top.
    After chowing down on the contents in the can you will find that the lid will fit firmly back on the can. Instant can safe.
    It can be glued for permentancy or kept loose for access to your valuables.
    Mix among other cans in your cupboard.

      1. I agree, awesome idea comingstorm60. I personally use emptied out cans to create fire cans. Another hiding spot, which is probably not so good once I mention it, is to hide things behind books themselves if you have a deep bookshelf. This is where I hide some of my carbine magazines for home defense.

  2. Though I live in a house, with hiding places I’ve built over the years, I still have alternatives. A suggestion I have for everyone is to find a self storage area within walking distance of where you live. I have one about a mile from my home. At the very back I have a 55 gallon drum stocked with supplies which will allow me to start over if I ever have to walk away from home not to return. It is behind and under about 2 tons of the usual storage unit junk. There are also boxes of spare clothing, tools, and any other items which might prove useful in a grid down situation.

    1. Hi Ishimo, That is great your storage unit is within walking distance from your home. One of the worries I have about storage units is I may not be able to reach it in an emergency. Our city is very spread out, and nearly nothing is within walking distance. Thanks for the comment.

  3. It’s tough to find places to hide things in a home, even more tough in an apartment that you don’t own and can’t really modify. I think the furniture is the best place to turn to for hidden spots. There are a few ways I could think to make false hiding spots, but it would involve some modifying the apartment by someone that is good at doing such things. It needs to be done so it looks normal.

    One thought is to look for the plumbing access hatch for the back of the bathtub faucet. There is usually a big enough area to hide something there. I could easily see such a spot able to hide a PVC container big enough to hold at least 100 ounces of silver. Each building is different so it’s hard to give too many ideas, but a look on U-Tube should give you a few workable ideas.

  4. I live in a wood frame condo, so I am more concerned about fire. I am planning to get a small fire safe that I can then hide in a larger container, say the trunk of Christmas decorations.

    1. Diane, Fire is definitely a big concern. Keeping the fire-proof safe which tends to be portable in a larger container is a great idea. Thanks for the comment.

  5. Please, always tell someone where you have hidden your valuables. Or, make a list of what is hidden and where, put it in sealed envelope and give to trusted friend or family member to be opened only with your death……or use a thumb drive. Another suggestion, keep list or thumb drive with your other important papers, such as insurance papers…..it will be found when your loved ones start searching for their inheritance. I don’t think a robber would take time to check out any sort of papers. A sealed copy to your lawyer?
    My husband and I have hidden money and jewelry over the last few years and couldn’t remember where and it took months and months to find. Now when we hide things before a trip, I call my son or best friend and tell’em the location.

    1. Hi Olivia, Thanks for reminding everyone about this. This must become more of a problem than people realize. I appreciate the comment!

  6. The question is what are you trying to hide and how big is it? How about some kind of planter stand or flag pole made from PVC pipe that you could mount outside? After all who steals a flag pole made of plastic? You could make a 1-foot long one that mounts to a wall that you slide those seasonal cloth banners over. If you don’t like the white plastic you could paint it some color that blends in and cap it with PVC plugs. If you want to hide silver, 2-inch PVC drain pipe is inexpensive and strong enough to support a planter with dirt in it. Just don’t make it look too good as people may want to steal it. For a non-theft look you don’t have to paint it and it’s theft appeal goes way down if it is the original white color.

    But for real protection nothing is better then burring it. It’s hard to do this without someone seeing you, but if you can do it, it’s safe from just about everything, including fire. One thing to try to avoid is to bury it where any kind of future urban development is likely to go on. You don’t want some guy with a backhoe finding your silver.

    U-Tube has a lot of videos on building PVC safes or caches. .

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