A few years ago, crime touched me personally. A good friend, Richard, age 69, had just inherited the family farm. The place was filled old cars, tractors, antiques and other items that were not quite junk, including a complete type set of American coins—one specimen of every gold coin and silver minted since 1776. He hired several people to help him comply with a county order to clean up the junk in the yard. But Richard was cash poor and wanted to sell the coins to pay the help and enjoy some living. One of his helpers, Tom, offered to sell the coins for him—said he knew a dealer that would pay the best price. He seemed like a nice guy and Richard trusted him. You know what happened next. Tom never showed up again. But the idiot lived nearby and it was a small town after all. A month passed. Richard got mad and left a note on Tom’s door that threatened to turn the matter over to his lawyer. The next afternoon Richard heard a knock, looked out his window to see Tom. He was afraid and called a mutual friend, Jane, who told him to keep his phone on and see what Tom wanted. He hid it in his coat pocket and answered the door. She heard everything until the phone went dead. She called my wife and I and we raced out to see if Richard was OK. We stomped around that snowy windy farm for an hour. I found Richard in the basement with a .38 slug in the back of his head, shot execution style. The perp is in prison now, but it took two years for police to believe the story. In the meantime I was sorely tempted to partake of some vigilante justice. I still feel pain and regret telling the story 5 years later.
We do a good job here encouraging one another to stack, to have strong hands, and keep our spirits up. And right here in the discussion forum every day as we see pics of purchases and the beautiful coins and bars bought by others. We see what prices were paid, and even hear a rationale for why we chose what we did. Craig also has unobtrusive dealer ads and even posts the daily specials from specific dealers in the middle of our conversations. So hanging around here for just a few days clears up questions that took me months to answer—like what to buy and where. But as the weeks turn into
months years waiting for … something, a question has been nagging me that I have yet to really settle: where do I store this heavy stuff? Grandma’s antique china display cabinet is perfect and I can admire it each day, but that somehow seems unwise to keep it there even though it is locked. At first, I kept it all in an old cigar box on my desk. But then the box started to burst at the seams. Some of us have large stacks—especially with the sub 20 prices we have enjoyed the past few years. A 100 ounce of silver weighs six pounds, and I shouldn’t lift over 30 or my back will let me know. Alas, that my stack exceeded 500 ounces some time ago and I can no longer hold or move it with one hand. What about the attic? Tried that. It was difficult to get in and out quickly. Besides, a thief would probably look there. Under the bed? No, the rifle case and ammo is there.
So as one who escaped the sheep-pen in 2010, I hope, with my limited experience, to start a conversation that delicately prompts us to resolve this dilemma without exposing all our secrets for the world to read. In what follows, I’ll share a few more horror stories and suggest some things to consider as we all decide or reconsider what storage method is right for us. And I have been reconsidering lately.
Alas, Datta Phuge is longer with us, killed by a mob with sticks--probably for his gold shirt.
Some years ago, a regular here, who sadly does not post often now, was robbed. This person told the story of how some meth-addicted friends-neighbors-stalkers—even relatives? (not sure on that) suspected her holdings and came to the homestead one night, dug up her silver and lugged it away. I bet they traded it for drugs, at 20 cents on the fiat dollar. As our beloved member removed other holdings from the ground, it turned out that another container leaked.That doesn’t matter too much for the metal’s value, but could harm any numismatic value coins held.
Just last week, a member here told of transporting his metals in a suitcase via a taxi as he had to leave home. (Hmmm … many of us talk about bugging out… how is that any different?) The cab driver suspected something and began to deviate from the expected route. Our friend realized the threat and took action before the situation got to the point of no return.
Another very close friend had people come to his farm 10 miles out of town and steal his guns, cash and wife’s jewelry. These were opportunistic thieves who knew he was at church on Sunday mornings. Good thing they didn’t know about or see the two safes, loaded with silver, in his garage with junked piled in front.
And the news is loaded with stories like these:
“Two men entered the house at 10:35 p.m., forcing a 63-year-old woman who lived there to accompany them into the basement. There, the men tied the woman up against a vertical beam and proceeded to empty a safe in the basement of gold coins and silver bars worth an estimated $25,000. Both men had knowledge of the safe and its contents.”
“The victim encountered a man outside his home. At the time, that man asked about odd jobs. Later, when the victim opened his back door to let his dog out, he turned around and saw the stranger inside his house with a handgun. The male suspect then placed a phone call and said, 'I am ready, get down here,'" A few minutes later, two men entered the home armed with handguns and wearing bandanas over their faces. The victim told police that the men got away with between $80,000 and $100,000 worth of coins and jewelry.”
The dangers of storing metals at home are real. But resolving the issue presents a dilemma or two: On one hand we have to trust some people. I trust my own coin dealer to not rob me of what he has sold. I trust my kids, but I have emphasized the need for secrecy. I don’t trust that bank will be able to keep their promises. I trust a bullion dealer for storage, but might circumstances also prevent them from keeping their end of the deal?
So, what do you do? Use a storage company? Many of you have recommended reputable vaulting companies that offer international transfer of metals. But what if the economy and communication totally collapse? What if there is war and we cannot travel freely? What if, what if, what if … fill in blank…
Many of us want our metals close. And I see some mistakes made in each of these stories above—a vulnerable metal owner, strangers with knowledge of the metal, and too much trust in a stranger. Only a fool boasts about their stack to friends. Yet, we want to encourage friends & family to stack. But if I tell my brother, and he casually mentions it to the wrong person at work, I better be prepared.
A have an old friend who told me some stories one night. His family was taught to keep 1/3 of their wealth in gold. Being Jewish, his ancestors were often chased from one town or country to another. Their goldsmith friend would cast the family gold into cabinet and drawer handles. If they ever had to leave town, mom would quickly unscrew the handles and put them in her purse. Then they had something to start over with in Argentina, or wherever. His uncle kept a five ounce platinum comb in his pocket, and used it openly for people to see. Nobody suspected its value.
We must use discretion, wisdom, diversification, self-protection, diversions, and a couple of loyal dogs aren’t a bad idea either. They don’t steal metal.
The pirate Blackbeard never killed his victims. He just wanted the ship, the cargo, and a ransom for the crew. He also never had to fight to take a ship. The fear of him did the fighting for him as even ships with armed crews laid down their weapons when he approached. He was a consummate performer, with lit cannon fuses that he tied into his beard as they attacked--and his men put on a good show as well.
My coin dealer has a CC license and carries all the time. He isn’t shy about letting the piece be seen either.
Perhaps that dog, “no trespassing” signs, or a sign that says “forget about the dog, beware of the owner” will do much more good than you know. In my state, you can wear a handgun openly. How about NRA stickers on your cars—the one about “prying from cold dead hands…” Personally, I keep my place sort of a mess, due to a tendency to hoard construction materials. But I know that it makes my house look less appealing to a thief. (How's that for an excuse to tell my wife why I can't clean the carport today?) We also drive older cars. I am not really a right-wing gun nut, but I don’t mind if neighbors think I am. I also have two large kids and a feisty dog at home that know how to use firearms. (Yes, the dog is well-trained.) Someone is always home.
Secrecy is your best defense. Intimidation might be second best.
A floor safe, installed under your freezer out in the garage, or under your kitchen stove is something I bet anyone could do on your own. I used to be intimidated by doing concrete work. But after necessity forced me to cut holes in concrete and then patch them, I learned how simple it is. Even a small safe can hold a lot of gold and legal documents. Protects from fire also. How about building a secret room—the kind the abolitionists used to hide people in? If you have a stairwell, you might be able to build a storage compartment underneath. Many kitchens have a soffit where you could install a false duct vent for access.
Don’t tell anyone that you have metal at home—not even a coin collection. I know you don’t trust banks, but why not rent a safe deposit box, put a silver dime in it with your car titles and such so you can honestly say that you store metal at the bank when you discuss metals with genuine seekers. Are credit Unions easier to trust than a bank? Not sure. I’d like to hear some thoughts on that. Diversify your holdings—use a bullion storage company. If you choose a home hiding place pick one that is not an easy target for a thief with a metal detector.
So we joke about our boating accidents that put our metal beyond anyone’s reach. Others of us inform the world about the arsenals and our willingness to use them. But keep your stack a secret. Hide it where the random thief will not suspect. Protect yourself from home invaders. They are already looking for you. Only let people come in to work that can be trusted. Even a trusted licensed contractor may unknowingly hire a criminal. (Frankly, after the Canadian Mint employee theft via rectum story, I can no longer trust plumbers with a low rear belt line. Be discreet if you have a safe. Keep it hidden or covered and away from where the plumber might notice it (hint—not right next to the water heater). And you should have a plan for quick transport just in case the economy gets nasty and random home invasions become commonplace, or you simply decide to move to your bugout house or uncle’s farm out of town. (I am still working on that one)
Here is a nice little article from one of our sponsors that discusses the issue.
Well, I just wanted to throw this topic out there for the benefit of our many newer members. There is much wisdom here on this board. Certainly I am not suggesting we divulge our own clever hiding places here, or even that we indeed store anything at home, since the anonymous internet is not really that anonymous. But the need for security is already real and immediate and I suspect many of us have excellent solutions and others, like me, are still looking.