Owning gold is important, but owning gold can come with a big challenge: keeping it safe. Criminals love to steal gold. It’s a large amount of value in a small, easy-to-conceal package. It’s relatively hard to trace and easy to sell.
For maximum protection, store valuables in a bank safe deposit box. I’ve never personally known of anyone losing coins stored in a safe deposit box. But keep mum about the bank box, and don’t be predictable about visits to the bank. Experienced coin dealers know to vary their routine and make bank visits at different times and by different routes each time.
If you live in a hurricane-prone area don’t leave valuables in your home where looters can get at them in the chaotic aftermath of a storm. Remember the TV footage of rampaging looters after Katrina and other hurricanes? Some local banks were closed after these monster storms, but within 60 days people were able to get to their valuables from their safe deposit boxes.
Some gold owners mistrust banks and elect to keep their gold close at hand in a home safe or buried in the backyard. But be forewarned: many buried tubes leak over time, and there are risks with having large amounts of gold around the house. In consultation with numerous law enforcement agencies, here are common sense ways to protect your valuables, yourself and your family.
1) Buy a fireproof safe or gun safe. Large safes usually are too heavy for thieves to carry easily.
2) Secure the safe. Bolt it to the floor, hidden in an out-of- the-way location, not your master bedroom or master bathroom. That’s typically the first place thieves look.
3) Keep mum. Be very guarded about who you tell about your valuables and what they’re worth.
4) Don’t flaunt. Despite the temptation to show off your hard-won luxuries, never leave your valuable guns, coins or jewelry lying about exposed to children, maids, workers or even friends. Many a rare coin has ended up sold to a gold buyer or even put in a vending machine after it was taken by a tempted son, daughter, house- keeper or painter.
5) Read your homeowner’s insurance policy to make sure it covers collectible valuables. Make an inventory list with estimated values, and photograph your most valuable coins, guns and accessories for insurance purposes, then keep the list and photos in a secure place.
6) Know your neighbors. Watch out for each other and report any suspicious activity in the neighborhood.
7) Make it look like you’re always home. Cut off mail and newspaper delivery. Hire someone or enlist a willing neighbor to clear snow from your sidewalks, mow your lawn, move your parked vehicles periodically, and remove advertising fliers hung on your front doorknob or gate. Leave on a TV, stereo or radio with the volume loud enough to be heard from outside. Install timing or remote systems on several lamps near windows visible to the street so that lights come on and turn off unpredictably as though someone is home.
8) Never announce on Facebook, Twitter or any other public forum that you’re going away. Social media is happy hunting grounds for thieves.
9) Destroy evidence of expensive new toys. Use an opaque garbage bag to conceal the box for that new super big screen high-definition cable-ready Blu-Ray TV set you bought. Empty boxes in plain sight could extend an invitation to burglars who will be on the lookout for other valuables in your home.
10) Always keep your house locked. Put dead-bolts on doors and keep them locked and secure window air conditioning units.
11) Install a very loud, monitored home security alarm. The alarm noise startles intruders and makes them anxious to get away before police arrive. Post the sign provided by the alarm company in a highly-visible place. Lock your outside breaker box or electrical panel to reduce the ease of thieves disarming burglar alarms and phone systems.
12) Turn on the lights! Well-lit grounds are less likely to be random targets and motion-activated lights leave few, undetected hiding places for thieves.
13) Get a dog that sounds ferocious, even if it isn’t really. Even a cute, yapping “squeaky-toy sized” dog may serve as an alert that strangers are present.
Mike Fuljenz taught classes on grading and counterfeit coin detection for over 20 years. He has also assisted the Texas Attorney General with drafting consumer alerts on coins and on counterfeits. He has lectured and conducted training for law enforcement with the Numismatic Crime Information Center. He has been a member of the National Anti-Counterfeiting Task Force, as well as assisting the Federal Trade Commission with their consumer alerts on coins.
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