Where Do Burglars Look?

Under the mattress. Burglars will make a beeline to the room with the most valuables. “The good stop is always going to be in the master bedroom,” says Chris McGoey, president of McGoey Security Consulting. “That’s where you have your clothes, your jewelry, your extra cash, your weapons, your prescriptions – anything of value.” Hiding things under the mattress is one of the oldest tricks in the book, so a thief will likely check there for hidden treasures, he says.

Bedroom closet. A thief might rummage through your entire closet – pockets and all – looking for cash or other valuables. If you do decide to store valuables in your closet, leave them in a box purposely mislabeled with a boring name (think: ‘college textbooks 1980’ or ‘baby clothes’) to keep sticky fingers out, suggests McGoey.

Dresser drawers. While burglars are in your bedroom, a jewelry box on top of the dresser is a hot commodity. Even you don’t store your jewelry in plain sight, a thief will probably hunt around in dresser drawers for a shoebox or other unique box that could be filled with watches, jewels and other valuables, says Robert Siciliano, security analyst with Hotspot Shield. Instead of putting your high-value belongings in an obvious box, ball them up in a sock, he suggests. Pick a pair with a bright pattern that will stand out to you but won’t look fishy to a crook.

Portable safe. You probably want to keep your precious items locked away, but it won’t do much good if the safe isn’t attached to the floor or a wall. “If it’s closed and locked, it implies there are things of value in there,” says McGoey. “If it’s small and portable, they’ll take the whole thing.” On the other hand, burglars are generally trying to get in and out as quickly as possible. They won’t bother using a stethoscope to crack the combination, so a heavy safe they can’t lift is your best bet, he says.

Medicine cabinet. Crooks want to make quick cash off your belongings, so they’ll be sure to browse your medicine cabinet for prescription pills they can sell. The pills might not be a concern because you can get a refill easily, but be careful what you store nearby. ‘”ou want to avoid putting anything of significant value around medication of any kind,” says Siciliano. For instance, using an old pill container as a hiding spot for jewels could actually make them a target.

Freezer. If you’ve thought of the freezer as a sneaky hiding spot, chances are a robber has, too. A burglar won’t rummage through your entire stack of frozen peas and fish sticks, but if you leave your treasures in something out-of-place, such as a sock, the thief will be onto you. “If you’re going to put something in the freezer, you want to put it in with something that looks legit, like wrapping it in a bag that used to have blueberries in it,” says Siciliano. Use the same rule of thumb if hiding anything in a pantry. Just give a loved one a heads up so that if anything happens, your valuables won’t be trashed with the rest of your food.

Office drawers. Think twice before stashing important papers like birth certificates or passports in your office drawers. “People want to be convenient. They have a file labeled,” says McGoey. Unfortunately, that also means you’re leading burglars straight to everything they need to steal your identity. Use a locked drawer to keep sensitive data safe, recommends Siciliano.

Vase. An empty vase could act as a hiding place for valuables, but swindlers are onto your tricks. They’ll likely tip the vase over or even break it, hoping to find goods inside. “Have something additional in it, like flowers, that would obscure somebody looking in it,” he says. They’ll also be less likely to empty your vase if it means dropping flowers all over the floor.

Liquor cabinet. A liquor cabinet might not seem like an obvious spot for thieves to hunt for valuables, but that doesn’t mean they’re safe. “It’s a target for kids looking for alcohol,” says Siciliano. You might not be devastated if your whiskey goes missing, but you don’t want to lose an heirloom along with it.

Suitcase. Your luggage might seem like a waste of valuable storage space when you’re not traveling, but don’t keep anything irreplaceable inside. “Suitcases are common things people use as a safe even though it’s not a safe,” says McGoey. Criminals will open a suitcase if they find one in your closet, he says.

New Year, New Resolve to Get Organized

It’s time for the big purge. It will make you and your family feel more organized and help reduce stress that leaves you less focused. Plus, with fewer things taking up space, you will have more room to display the things that bring you joy.

declutterWhether you take it slowly over the course of a few weeks or tackle it in one weekend, commit to the decluttering project and keep it up throughout the year. Things easily pile up around the house but the more on top of it you stay, the easier it is to maintain.

There are dozens of suggestions below for things you can toss or donate right now from your home. You probably won’t even miss most of them.

The kitchen is a great place to start, so get rid of these things: Expired food and condiments in the fridge. Frozen food so old you don’t even remember what it is. Expired spices. Leftover seasonal or themed party plates or napkins you’ll never use again. Plastic containers with missing lids. Chipped coffee cups. Duplicate utensils or tools. Rusted or broken tools or appliances. Cracked ice cube trays. Cookbooks you never open. Extra water bottles. Takeout chopsticks. Takeout condiment packets. Takeout menus. Old sponges. Ratty dish towels. Extra flower delivery vases.

Now tackle the bathroom(s) by dumping the expired makeup and sunscreen. Stretched-out rubber bands. Old toothbrushes. Ratty washcloths. Extra towels (Two to three per person is plenty). Loofahs that have seen better days. Dried-up nail polish. Extra bath products. Extra cleaning supplies. Half-empty perfume samples. Extra travel-sized toiletries. Potpourri that’s lost its scent. Fancy bar soap you’ll never use. The disposable razors you bought but hate using. Extra promotional makeup bags. Expired medicine.

Now for the bedroom. Get rid of the books you’ve already read. The stack of magazines you’ll never have time to read. Old pillows. Excessive decorative throw pillows. The side chair you throw all your clothes on. Broken window blinds. Yellowed lampshades. Papers you don’t need anymore. Old cell phones or tablets. Costume jewelry you never wear. That cup/bowl/bucket of loose change (Cash it in!). Candle stubs.

The bedroom closet that’s over-stuffed with unused items. Clear out the clothes you don’t wear anymore. Clothes that don’t fit. Uncomfortable shoes. Old formal dresses you’ll never wear again. Wire hangers. Socks and gloves missing their matches. Ratty or stained scarves. Broken purses. Extra canvas bags (you only need enough for groceries.). Hats you never wear.

Don’t do the kid’s room(s) when they are home. It will be easier without them. Dump the dried-out markers and art supplies. Broken crayons. Broken toys. Clothes they’ve outgrown. Toys they don’t play with anymore. Furniture they’re too big for now. Extra artwork.

The living room might be easier than most of the others. It’s time to dump the extra candles. The rug you keep tripping on. Magazines you’ve left out on the coffee table. Remotes that belong to old TVs. Dead plants. Knickknack decorations that don’t add anything. Broken, scratched or stained furniture.

Turn your home office back into a home office. Get rid of old papers and bills you don’t need anymore. Outdated or broken technology. USB cords to things you don’t use anymore. Excessive paper clips or rubber bands. Old DVDs or CDs you don’t play anymore.

Make room in the hall closet by clearing it of moth-ruined coats or scarves. Broken umbrellas. Almost-empty rolls of wrapping paper. Broken items. Extra blankets you never use. Just-in-case gifts you keep on hand but never use. That old vacuum that doesn’t suck. Old holiday decorations you don’t use anymore. Plastic bins that just take up space. The air bed that sinks when anyone gets on it. The ratty old suitcases you never use anymore. Dusting cloths that have seen better days.

Clean out the garage. Get rid of broken, rusted or duplicate tools. Sports equipment that no longer gets used. Deflated sports balls. That old refrigerator that doesn’t work anymore. Things you’re saving for a future garage sale that’s never going to happen. Old potting soil you no longer need. Extra paint for a color that’s no longer in your house. Unfinished DIY projects that will never get completed. Extra home improvement supplies that you’ll never need. The picnic basket you haven’t used in years. Boxes for appliances or gadgets you’re saving just in case. The folding card table that’s scratched or broken.