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There's a question on DIY SE asking how to secure the house from intruders. One of the answers is to not have anything valuable or at least to not appear to.

Can the illusion that a person doesn't have anything valuable be achieved through some specific practices of dealing with money and property? What can be done to achieve that?

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    Walk around in ragged clothes? Basically, not showing off your wealth, I guess. – Raskolnikov Dec 3 '10 at 10:50
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    Take a proper insurance, put all valuables in the bank and enjoy your sleep. Show off is a strict no no. – DumbCoder Dec 3 '10 at 11:54
  • What kind of valuables do you have? Are you worried about the TV, or do you have a suitcase of bearer bonds? – duffbeer703 Dec 3 '10 at 17:54
  • hide your money in fake dirty underwear: asseenontvguys.com/security-briefs.aspx – Michael Pryor Dec 3 '10 at 22:29
  • @duffbeer703: Nothing like the bearer bonds, just some electronics, decent clothes and a small sum of money. The primary problem is not that I'll miss those things but that the fact of theft (or robbery) itself will be very unpleasant and I'd like to avoid it. – sharptooth Dec 6 '10 at 6:57
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The best practices for this sort of thing:

  • Don't keep too much money and valuable jewerly around. You should have no more than a couple of thousand dollars lying about.
  • Keep the exterior of your house clean and well-lit.
  • Gates and doors, even if not locked, should be in good repair and consistently closed.
  • Secure stuff like bikes, lawnmowers, etc in a place not visible from the outside of the street, preferably in a shed.
  • Have decent locks and keep accessible windows closed and locked when you're not home.
  • Get a dog.

In terms of electronics and such, you're always at risk for some crackhead busting in your door and grabbing your iPod or whatever. Thieves don't really care about clothes... they want items quickly converted to cash: small electronics with resale value, cash, jewelry. Keeping things locked and having a dog are probably the best deterrents for that scenario.

More professional/organized burglars who rob houses during the day stake out a neighborhood and look for places where their presence won't be noticed. If things are clean and consistent, your neighbors, police patrol, mailman, etc are more likely to notice something awry and call the police. That's a risk factor for the "pro" thief, who will more likely look for a softer target.

If you live in an area where there has been a burglary spree or you are really worried about this, get a basic, centrally monitored alarm system. If you're not living a flashy lifestyle and are deliberately thinking about ways to look like you don't have anything, it is money well spent. If you are living a flashy lifestyle, unwanted attention comes with the territory. In any case, feeling safe at home is something you need to be able to do.

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put a fake "foreclosure notice" on your door.

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Make sure that you have the smallest house in the neighborhood. Then hopefully anyone with nefarious intent ill go elsewhere.

Don't have anything visible from the street that is expensive. This includes cars (park the BMW in the windowless garage), fancy grills, pools, bikes, etc.

For maximum effect, put a broken down car in front of the house. Preferably something 20-30 years old and up on blocks, like an old pickup truck. A couch on the front porch and a old tub in the yard (unmowed) will complete the effect.

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    +1 for the tub! For maximum effect, though, I'd say you need at least two and a half cars on blocks. Or animals in the yard -- maybe a goat or some geese. – bstpierre Mar 12 '11 at 2:45
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You might want to consider how much effort mitigating this risk is worth. For example, having homeowner's insurance and sufficient documentation of your valuables is probably enough to satisfy your fears if they are based on simply losing your property.

In the end is there really any benefit in living like you don't have money in an effort to keep people stealing it from you?

That said, One piece of good advice I have heard for how to avoid encouraging robbers is to avoid putting boxes for expensive items (e.g. electronics) out by the trash until the morning they pick it up. No need to advertise that you just bought a super expensive home-theater system.

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Don't robbers look at neighborhoods first? You might try making your house the shabbiest on the street. :)

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