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Aug. 4 2009 - 2:49 pm | 86 views | 1 recommendation | 2 comments

Giving Burglars Their Due

Burglar

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So, you’re on vacation. A burglar has staked out your home. He’s figured out a way in. He’s taken the trouble to climb up the fire escape, to get your window open, and to sneak inside. He’s risked a lot to be here today — the least you can do is make sure he (or she, don’t want to be sexist!) doesn’t go away empty handed.

Okay, so maybe you don’t care about the burglar’s hurt feelings. But maybe you do care about not having your apartment torn apart couch-to-mattress.

What can you do?

In a couple of amusing posts, SavingAdvice.com talks to the best possible source on the subject: a self-proclaimed former burglar. His basic advice: There’s really nowhere so clever a burglar won’t find your money (except the bank), but if he or she finds something early in his search maybe he or she will stop tearing your place apart.

The burglar has two motivations: 1) To steal your money and valuables, and 2) To get out of the house as quickly as possible with these goods. Thus:

Your best strategy, then, is to actually leave some money in obvious places for the burglar to quickly find (the same applies if you keep all your money in the bank). This can not only save your other stash of money, but may actually keep the burglar from destroying your place as he looks for where you have hidden your money. If they believe they may have found the cash that you have in the house, they are much less likely to keep looking (remember, they want to get out asap). In the end, if you hide all your money well, you may win a moral victory in not letting the burglar find the money, but you’ll likely have much more damage done to your place that will end up costing you more in the long run.

So, say you’re worried about burglars and want to leave something obvious. How about a wad of a couple hundred dollars “hidden” in your underwear drawer. Of course, the amount that’s credible might vary (“It depends on the area where you live. If you are in a upscale community and only leave $100, I would assume there is more and keep looking. In a different part of town $100 would convince me I found all the money that was there and leave.”), but the principle is simple.

If your burglar money isn’t sufficient, where should you hide the rest? You may think you’re really clever, but chances are the burglar has thought of most everything.

Under the mattress? Please. They’ll ransack anything near the bed.

In the toilet tank? They’ve thought of it. And if they’re also hoping to come across drugs, they’ll especially be taking apart the bathroom.

In a cereal box? Good chance they’ve thought of that, too.

The back of your closet? It may be hard for you to get at, but they’ll just tear that baby apart.

Your best bets, according to the article: a bolted-down safe, inside a household product (as long as it’s in the appropriate room — no fake Campbell’s soup cans in the bedroom), or inside a child’s toy.

Of course, the more any given hiding place becomes conventional wisdom, the more likely a burglar is to look there. So, again, the best bet is to make a burglar think he or she has everything early in the burglary. As ridiculous as it is, a burglar comes to expect a certain payoff after putting in a certain amount of work and taking a certain amount of risk. It’s only human, so it’s worth understanding.

HT: Lifehacker


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  1. collapse expand

    at first i thought this was an interesting strategy, but now i think you have an ulterior motive. ;)

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    I'm a freelance writer and blogger based in Brooklyn, NY. My background is mostly in politics. I've worked on the editorial boards of the New York Sun and New York Post. In 2006, I wrote a book, "The Elephant in the Room: Evangelicals, Libertarians, and the Battle to Control the Republican Party" (Wiley). I've also done my share of freelancing, for places like the Atlantic Monthly, The New York Times, Reason, and RealClearPolitics.

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