Even though precious metals prices have become more affordable over the last few years, thieves still want to steal it. So, beware.
Last year, March, $4.8 million dollars in gold bars were stolen from a semi-truck at gunpoint on a North Carolina highway. The thieves disabled the guards by hiding a can of pepper spray in the truck cab, and rigged it to spray into the cab while the truck was a on secluded part of the highway.
What's more, in 2015 the FBI says over $1.4 billion worth of precious metals and jewelry was stolen, with less than 5% of stolen precious metals ever recovered and returned to owners.
Use the nine tips below to secure your precious metals and keep them safe from thieves while still keeping some easily accessible in case of emergency.
The nine tips are ordered from easier to access to more difficult to access.
Tip #1: Don't talk about your precious metals.
Don't discuss it with strangers. Don't discuss it with those who can't keep their mouth shut (like neighbors or young immature children). And don't share it online in places like Facebook. Keep and defend your financial privacy by being discreet.
Tip #2: Know Thy Enemy. Think like a thief.
According to research by the University of North Carolina Charlotte Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology, 90% of burglars break into homes to support a drug addiction. Most just want to make a quick score. Most burglaries aren't even planned out ahead of time.
The first place they'll hit is the master bedroom for cash and jewelry. Then the bathroom for valuables and prescription drugs. Then your living room/home office for valuables like electronics.
On average, a thief ransacks a home in 5 to 12 minutes. Ransack means they throw things, break things, and rip through your things to quickly look for valuables. They ruin your home.
Because most thieves are desperate to support a drug addiction, you may want to keep some valuables (like a few ten and twenty dollar bills) easy to find. This may satisfy them enough to quickly leave without doing too much additional damage to your home and leaving your true valuables alone.
Tip #3: Hide some gold and silver coins nearby at arms reach.
There's a balance between keeping your precious metals safe from theft and having some gold and silver coins readily available in case of emergency.
You're better off knowing you can carry a meaningful amount of emergency wealth in your pockets, a small purse, or a backpack.
Tip #4: Store some gold and silver bullion in a home safe and bolt it down.
One way to keep your precious metals safe yet accessible is to store some in a home safe. Choose a home safe that is waterproof and fire resistant to protect them from other dangers.
Then, bolt it down securely so thieves can't just pick it up and carry it away. If possible, bolt it down in a tight space or corner. Bolting it into a tight spot like this makes it difficult for the thief to break into it and adds one more level of difficulty to trying to carry it away.
Tip #5: Hide precious metals in plain sight using a decoy safe(s).
A decoy safe is simply using a normal household item or container to hide valuables inside. Think of a coffee can, frozen food box, or a child's toy. You can create your own or you can buy ones like book safe online.
Make sure the decoy safe is stored where it naturally belongs. That's to say, hide the frozen food box, containing your gold and silver bullion, in your freezer, not in your sock drawer.
Tip #6: Use nooks and crannies for gold and silver storage.
You have hundreds of nooks and crannies that make great hiding spots around your home. Think of inside your sofa cushions, inside ventilation vents, empty spaces behind walls, attic, basement, flower pot, etc.
Don’t keep all your golden eggs in one basket. Spread them around and diversify your security.
Tip #7: Bury your gold and silver.
Bury it underground. Make sure to use a water tight container. For added security against metal detectors hide your stash under a metal irrigation pipe or bury a soda can a foot above your precious metals.
This way, if a robber goes digging, they think the metal detector found the can or pipe and not dig deeper to your gold or silver coin stash.
And when you bury it underground, make sure you don't forget where you hid it. Hide it near an "immovable" landmark like the corner of a retaining wall, a boulder, a massive tree. Many people also use GPS and record the coordinates.
By the way, if you bury it, don't bring attention to yourself and "give away" what you're doing to nosy neighbors or the curious.
Tip #8: Bank safe deposit box.
A bank safe deposit box is a popular choice. They're generally more secure from theft than a home safe while still providing convenience.
Of course, your gold and silver stored here is less accessible because you can only get to it during banking hours.
Other drawbacks include giving up some of your privacy because banks are forced to report on you through FinCEN and Patriot Act laws. Also, safe deposit box contents can be seized by the IRS, other government agencies, and even creditors.
Despite a common misconception, contents inside safe deposit boxes are not covered by the FDIC or other banking insurance. However, you can buy your own private insurance to protect your gold and silver bullion.
Tip #9: Private bullion storage vault.
A private bullion storage facility may be appropriate for large holdings. Although usually more expensive than a bank safe deposit box.
Make sure to use a vault with segregated storage. That is, your gold and silver coins are stored separately from other clients’ gold and silver coins.
As with any purchase you want to do your homework. Verify the private vault's costs, insurance coverage, and location (in the U.S. or international).
And if your holdings are substantial, spreading the risk across various private storage facilities could be a prudent move.
Use one or all the tips above to protect your gold and silver bullion from theft and diversify your options so you don’t keep all your golden eggs in one basket.