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How to keep valuables safe: use cereal and toy boxes, say ex-burglars

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Panel of ex-offenders reveals underwear drawers and pillows are first places to be checked

Burglars can spend as little as five minutes in the house before fleeing. 

Forget hiding your valuables under your pillow, in a safe or stuffing them in your underwear drawer – those are among the first places professional burglars look for jewellery and cash.

A panel of former burglars, brought together by department store chain John Lewis, have advised holidaymakers that the safest places for family heirlooms are actually cereal boxes or storage for children’s toys.

One of the six ex-offenders said cereal, pasta and rice packets make the best hiding places because “they [burglars] are not going to go through all your food packets”.

He said people often keep valuables, such as car keys, in their kitchens but they are usually easy to find. “Most people have got a ‘bits and bobs’ cupboard in their kitchen where they often keep their keys,” he told experts at John Lewis home insurance. “DVD cases is another good place to hide valuables because they are harder to find.”

People were also advised to stash valuables inside toy boxes in children’s bedrooms saying that there was an “unwritten rule” that thieves do not enter kids’ rooms.

The panel of six ex-burglars, who were put in touch with John Lewis via the St Giles Trust charity which helps ex-offenders back into legitimate work, said the rise in online shopping has made it much easier to identify unoccupied homes.

“If you’re walking down the road and see a parcel on a doorstep there is a good chance someone is not in,” a member of the panel said. “I would suggest not ordering parcels if you won’t be around when they arrive and getting neighbours to check for parcel deliveries regularly while you’re away.”

Leaving lights either on or off for long periods was also identified as a key giveaway. The best room to leave lights on when away is the hallway, the panel said, but timer switches were deemed the best option because it creates a better illusion that someone was at home.

Burglars can spend up to two months watching a house before making their move, but would spend as little as five minutes inside before fleeing.

Some of the ex-offenders questioned said they target identity documents – such as passports, driving licences, credit cards and bank statements – rather than stealing TVs or DVD players because of the potential gains from selling the information on.

Dr Claire Nee, director of the International Centre for Research in Forensic Psychology at Portsmouth University, who has interviewed hundreds of burglars to analyse patterns in offending said: “Identity documents are very valuable at the minute due to identity theft for fraud and people trafficking.

“We also know from both our research and criminal statistics that burglars are going for small, valuable items – jewellery, electronics and cash.

“Finally, be careful about your conversation on the way to the airport. Talk loudly about your house sitter for instance, not about how you are looking forward to your fortnight away.”

The Crime Survey for England and Wales, published by the Office for National Statistics, shows the number of domestic burglaries declined by 2% to 669,000 in 2018, compared to the previous year.

Goes for any country.

Edited by RR3
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My friend Walter who was one heck of a person until he recently passed.  Taught me to carry a photo copy laminated driver license in Mexico years ago,  also a throw down wallet.  No longer can copy a driver license so I keep the expired one.  Last used it to rent motorbike in the PI's

Anyway,  Walter was a businessman and had a very large old safe in his workplace basement,  he kept his lunch in it  :rofl:   In the 50 or so years he was in business there he was never robbed, but would have been pretty funny!

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1 hour ago, RR3 said:

“DVD cases is another good place to hide valuables because they are harder to find.”

VHS tape boxes are bigger and who would steal those?

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We had whole house AC / heating  - used duct with magnetically held on grate


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