The Construction of Secret Hiding Places

I love alternate views of our normal notions of domesticity and home economics. On a recent trip to the book section of a large surplus store I noticed our first book The Urban Homestead right alongside books on burying weapons caches, wiring solar panels, acting as your own dentist and assembling SKS rifles. We certainly have exciting company on this journey.

One book in particular caught my eye, The Construction of Secret Hiding Places by Charles Robinson. You can download a pdf of this book for free here. Of course the fact that this info exists in book and interweb form means that the secrets aren’t, well, secrets anymore. Nevertheless, I’ll never view a stairwell, baseboard or that useless space under the dishwasher in quite the same way again.

Do you have a favorite secret hiding place? Anonymous comments are welcome . . .

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  1. Hollow books have always been interesting to me. I’ve got a copy of Twilight I got a few years back I’ve been meaning to hollow out! Maybe then it’ll actually be interesting! lol.

  2. I made a hollow book to keep some cash in. Not a huge amount, just some small notes for emergencies.

    Keeping them in a book makes them less likely to get spent just because. And it was fun making it!

  3. My husband mentioned reading a blog where a man had made a container like the one pictured but with PVC so it was water- and rust-proof. He buried one on public land for emergency retrieval.

    Several years later, he returned to check on it and was shocked to find it sticking up out of the ground. The freeze-thaw cycle had pushed it up. What was equally amazing was that no one had disturbed it. Guess the folks walking by it did not have curious natures … or the fact that it was PVC may have led them to believe it was just the exposed end of a water pipe.

  4. I have looked at books on my shelves and cannot find one I am willing to destroy. Twilight might be just the thing if I can find one at the upcoming mother of all yard sales.

    I always think of the elderly woman who hid a million dollars in her mattress only to come home and find her daughter had surprised her with a new mattress and sent the other to the dump. How many people had died with their hidey-holes intact? Well, I don’t have much to hide, but the taking off of baseboards to hide things has always intrigued me.

    My friend in the hoarding post had a mother who would put $20 and $100 bills in her Bible. Needless to say, they remained safe well after her death.

    Now, I must read the free book on hidey holes. And pick out the perfect can. Thanks.

  5. I had a husband who spent money as fast as he got it… ( hence, “had” lol ) I used to hide cash in the freezer, and tape bills behind painting and photos on the walls… Sure came in handy when it was apparent I needed to leave.

  6. I could tell you, but then I’d have to dispose of you. Dang! Then I’d have to get another hiding place for the evidence. 🙂

    You can blu-tack ziplock bags of money into all sorts of places no one would see!

  7. I have a Barbasol shaving cream can with a false bottom that unscrews. I take it with me when traveling to places where I will be in sketchy hotel rooms, and I leave some cash and my iPod in it by the sink. I smear a little shaving cream on the nozzle and it’s never been disturbed.

  8. I knew about the hollow book one but most of the others are hidey-holes I never would have thought of!

    The site that is hosting that PDF is also, uhhhh, interesting, to say the least.

  9. I’ve made good use of the space under the stairs in my time. My husband and I have been talking about the idea of building a couch with secret compartments. Under the cushions, we would have drawers that pull out for storing blankets, and putting compartments in the back for storing others things.

  10. This one sounds stupid but so far has worked like a charm. No one EVER bends over to pick up someone else’s garbage (probably the reason the PVC pipe remained untouched for an earlier poster). I have not totally trusted this yet but for years I have been testing this. I can put cash or valuables into an old pop can, toss it into the garden and it will stay there undisturbed. Neither children nor adults touch it if it has been stepped on.

    The other place is the dryer. My elderly aunt lives in a bad neighborhood. Two men came into her home, duck taped her to a chair (she was in her 80’s at the time) and demanded her money. (They had gone through her books looking for cash). She directed them to an old purse with an old wallet in it. Though they pulled books from the shelves, went through drawers, under the bed, closets, couch cushions etc, they never did look in the dryer where her purse and money actually were. She is a salty ol broad and kept asking them, what would your mother think if she could see you now? That is probably why she lived to tell…. and kept her cash and credit cards.

  11. I hope I’m that salty when I’m in my 80’s! Talk about moxy. I wonder if you could do the same with an air conditioner, pop the front off and slide an envelope of emergency cash inside.

  12. The local used bookstore where I grew up had a section labelled “Subversive Studies”. All the good stuff, from Foxfire to lockpicking, were in there.

  13. And if you print out the book where are you supposed to hide it? You wouldn’t want to hide it in a hiding spot. If you forgot where you hid it, how would you find the other things you hid or make more hiding spots?

  14. When I was a kid, I’d sometimes hide small items behind the light switch in my bedroom.

    Bikejuju, I think we have the same Barbasol can! I’ve had mine for several years. I sometimes worry that Barbasol will go out of business, or change its can design significantly enough that mine will appear obviously out of date, and thus not so secret. I guess at that point, I’ll have to find another hiding place.

    Now I totally want to hollow out an old book!

  15. Two pieces of advice from someone who knows; One) Don’t ever use those store-bought personal items containers. Everyone has seen the Barbasol can, the Dr. Pepper, the Ajax, etc. No one smart will fall for that, even if cleverly hidden with other similar (real) items in the home. Two) If you do the classic, hollow-out book, make sure it’s something that blends well with your other books, assuming you put it in a bookcase. It might be fun to use an old-timey leather bound book but if everything else you have is paperback (generalizing of course), it will stand out terribly.
    Have fun, but be smart about it.

  16. I saw this in the movie “The Game” and liked it so much I did it myself. I hollowed out a junk hardback book and wrapped it in the dust cover for “To Kill a Mockingbird”…and hid my .38 revolver in it. I just love the irony.

  17. We have fairly well organized files in two lockable four-drawer file cabinets. One particularly boring file (think, like 2004 Tax Return) way in the back of a drawer contains an envelope with spare cash. I cannot imagine a thief getting that far into a search to find it.

  18. General idea: chaos hides a lot of stuff. For example, if someone had a collection of old, beat-up Star Trek novels, each with $100 in them, scattered in bunches through a set bookshelves, how easy would it be to find all the money? Being too good a housekeeper can be a problem.

  19. once, my 7 room apartment in chicago was ransacked by burglars while i was away. they flipped everything inside out and broke a lot of stuff too. Then went thru dressers, the bed, couch, etc. But one room in the middle of the apartment was left untouched, where i kept money, jewelry and cameras…because there was no light bulb in the ceiling light. Apparently, they came at night without a flashlight, and couldn’t see anything in the middle room, because it was pitch dark.

    • Those were idiot burglars. You’d think the middle of you’re apartment would be the first place they looked.

    • What does you’re comment will be visible after approval mean anyway? I mean, what could we write that would be so bad on a blog about hiding places? Seriously,do they really think that we would explain how to make a bomb or something on this blog? Do you call that paranoid or what!

    • @Anon: We don’t censor the comments–we have to moderate them control spam. If we didn’t, some our comment threads would be half spam. Spam patrol constitutes 99% of our moderating. We also reserve the right to not publish rude, abusive comments. Disagreements are fine, name calling is not. But this hardly ever happens. It’s mostly about spam.

  20. If you’re going to hide anything hide it in the floor. Just cut a hole in it,big enough for whatever you want to hide and put he peice of wood you cut out back over the hole.

    P.S I am not the same anonymous as all the other anonymous’ on this page.

  21. If ya wanted to invest in some fun adult toys and keep one for business, you will find alot of these sex toys hollow. just throw them in a drawer put some baby oil on toy with stash in it. Promise it won’t be touched. Nobody will want to put their hands on someones sex toys.Embarrasing as well. Ta-Da! Worked for me!

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