jewelry boxIt should be understood that in almost any burglary, time is a crucial factor. The shortest amount of time a thief spends in a house, the less likely he or she is to be caught, it’s that simple. Your job in protecting valuables is to make them as difficult for crooks to find as possible.

A woman’s jewelry is often the highest item on a thief’s shopping list, and frequently the only target. Jewelry is small, readily concealed and transported, high value, and easy to fence. Not so obvious is the fact that 95% of the time, it’s in the same place in every home in the United States: The Bedroom. Either in a jewelry box on the top of the dresser, or “hidden” under some clothing in the top dresser drawer. Even the greenest amateur will be able to find it in less than a minute. The objective is to buy yourself time in the event of a break-in by keeping jewelry in a place that’s not obvious, since most burglaries are completed in under five minutes, and a thief will rarely have time to completely ransack a place of residence.

Unless the object or objects to be hidden are only used once or twice a year, an area too difficult to access will become useless in short order. The effectiveness of a hiding place is directly linked to how easily accessible it is to you. An excellent place is a hollowed-out book placed with a few others on a table or shelf, or an opaque empty jar of cold cream (cushioned inside), on (or in) a night stand. A small suitcase in the back of a closet may prove useful, and provide a larger space if needed. “Dummy” cans of household cleaning products with false bottoms are available commercially, and can be surprisingly effective when placed in a logical spot. The bathroom cabinet, on the other hand, is a poor choice, because a thief may search for drugs there. As a general rule, your refrigerator’s freezer compartment is not a great place either.

Joe Brandt

Also recommended is a high-profile, easy-to-find location for your inexpensive costume jewelry. (This is where a jewelry box actually comes in handy!) A thief will often grab things quickly, and depart thinking he/she has made a great “score”. For items not worn on a regular basis, you may consider someplace more difficult to access, such as the attic, basement, or even a corner of a hall closet. Put yourself in the position of a thief: Where would you look first? (Common sense measures such as locking doors, having lights on timers when away, and making sure that mail or newspapers do not accumulate in your absence should always be utilized.)

Remember that fine jewelry should never be left exposed, particularly when unattended. Not everyone who enters your home is a thief, but workmen, house cleaners, service people — even your kid’s friends — do not need to know about your valuables. (When you do find a clever hiding place, you should tell someone you trust about it, because if you were to become incapacitated for any reason, you should not be the only one who knows where your valuables are stashed!) Awareness is your best defense against this type of crime. Think smart, think ahead, and keep your jewelry safe.

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Joe Brandt is a local resident, and president of J.L. Brandt Company, offering diversified fine jewelry advisory services to the general public since 1928. Readers are invited to submit questions or comments to [email protected]. Names or contact information will not be used for publication, and all inquiries will be answered promptly.