Growing up, my parents were kind of … neurotic. My mom had a thing about the “fishbowl effect” as she called it — the fact that when it gets dark at night you can see inside people’s houses if the lights are on and the curtains are open. She blames it on a peeping tom she had as a teenager, which is totally reasonable, but all these years later I know if she comes to my house at night, she’ll close my curtains.
Now that I’m a quasi-adult with my own home and family (and our house isn’t in the best of neighborhoods) I kinda get what my mom’s been freaking out about all this time. It IS disconcerting to drive up to your own house and be able to see your worldly possessions on display through your brightly-lit windows to anyone who would take the time to peer in.
So here are a few tips I’ve picked up on how to make sure you’re not inviting would-be robbers into your home with all of your cool stuff on display:
1. Put Things Away
I know this sounds simple, but perhaps the best place for your brand new plasma HD TV isn’t on the wall directly across from your front bay windows.
Consider using a cabinet or armoire of some sort to “put away” the TV when you’re not using it. The same goes for any electronics and their accompanying media forms — we have a Wii that is tucked away in a niche under our TV, and all of our DVD’s and games are behind closed opaque doors in the cabinet part of the stand.
We also try to make sure to tuck away our laptops when we’re not using them, since they typically reside on our ottoman or couch.
2. Be Smart With Your Collections
Sure, the family Civil War riffle collection or heirloom china and silver or Depression era glassware are awesome and totally display-worthy, but like the TV, perhaps not somewhere easily noticed from the outside.
Consider displaying items of value like these in a more central location in your house, like a home office or study, or in a den as opposed to a more formal living or dining room.
3. Don’t Use Obvious Hiding Places
Did you know that one of the first places a robber will look for steal-able items isn’t in your living room, but in your bedroom? That’s where the majority of people keep quick resale valuables like jewelry, small electronics (think cell phones, mp3 players, etc.) and other items like credit cards and cash. So having a big fancy jewelry box on your dresser to “put away” your valuables may seem to make sense, but is actually a huge target.
Growing up, I had jewelry boxes that were meant to look like old books — and I kept them on my bookshelf with my other books. If you can’t bear to part with your fancy heirloom jewelry chest, consider keeping it in a non-obvious place in a closet or home office, where it’s less likely to scream “STEAL ME!”
4. Keep Your Identity Safe
Things like birth certificates, passports, social security cards, marriage licenses, deeds, wills, and other important documents should ALWAYS be kept under some lock and key — if anything to keep little toddler hands from shredding them like a discarded magazine.
There are many home safes available from local retailers, but sometimes even just a locking door on a desk or file cabinet can do the trick. The last thing you want to lose after your great-grandmother’s pearls would be your own identity!
5. Be Smart With Window Coverings
Again, this may seem simple, but using light-blocking or black out curtains or shades are not just a good way to ensure a full night’s rest or to make your home more energy efficient — they also can keep your every movement inside your home private from outside eyes.
Window coverings that you can see through aren’t going to do you much favors whether you’re trying to keep prying eyes out, or just keep your neighbors out of your business. And it helps if you shut them around dusk, so no one gets a preview of all your awesome stuff!
What about you, do you have any ideas on how to keep your things protected? Do share in the comments!