Collectibles, and trading cards in general fall into a very niche market. Anybody who walks into your house can identify that your television is worth a couple of bucks. Can that same person identify the value of the framed Charizard hanging in your office? Not always.
This is the first lesson I teach to people when I do one-on-one consultations: knowledge is everything. In this example, items with a known value will become a thief's target. So when you tell people about your collection and its value, you've created a target for theft.
We live in a world of Instagram and Facebook. As collectors, we LOVE to post the newest additions to our ever-growing collections. It's a lot of fun, and a growing part of collecting's online presence. That said, responsible posting and being careful with who you give your personal information (including shipping details) is important. As soon as information is made available to someone in person or online, you run the risk of becoming the target. Be careful with what you share!
When it comes to burglaries or theft of collectibles, there is a constant underlying theme. The individual committing the crime is almost always aware of the value and security measures surrounding their target. This information is usually obtained from the victim. Be very cautious with what you communicate to other people, even if you trust them.
Securing a series of collectibles at home should be approached in layers. The first layer is the knowledge you communicate to other people. The next layer in a secure system falls into one of two categories: fortification or monitoring.
Fortification is the physical barrier or deterrent between your collection and a potential threat.
Some examples include:
- Locks on your doors (Here are some great ones)
- Shatterproof window film (cheap to install)
- Padlocks and other locking devices to secure containers (or locking cabinets)
- Safes (article on this coming soon!)
- Fencing around your property
Monitoring is a way to passively protect your collectibles without using physical barriers. These deterrents are typically used when a physical fortification fails. In some cases, monitoring can catch someone after a theft has occurred.
Some examples include:
- Home security system
- Home camera system
- Exterior lighting around your property (this exposes unwelcome guests)
- Glass break sensors/alarms(for windows)
Generally, you want a mix of both fortification and monitoring working together to create a system of security layers. If one defensive measure fails, another layer is already in place to supplement the security of your collection. Forgot to lock (fortify) your door? Use a home security service (monitoring) that will alert you to unauthorized entry. Forgot to set your home alarm (monitoring)? Thankfully your front door has a hefty deadbolt (fortification) locking everyone out.
These suggestions don't have to be limited to just the perimeter of your house either. Lots of people keep their collectibles in approximately the same area. Be it a closet, an office, or an entire basement; you can add additional security to areas of higher vulnerability.
- Put a lock on your closet door.
- Place a security camera in your office facing the doors and windows.
- Position motion sensors in your basement, and secure your most valuable items in locked containers or safes.
Building security layers is absolutely vital when storing a collection at home. So, which security measures are best for you? This is a difficult question to answer because everyone has different needs. What I can say is this- use what is best for you. Some people don't want cameras strung up everywhere, and others don't want a large, intimidating deadbolt on their nice suburban front door. Find what makes you comfortable, research it, and makes decisions you find acceptable for your situation.
Now that I've covered the risks of communicating information about your collection to other people, what else should you consider to protect yourself from a random burglary? I have compiled some facts and statistics to help you make informed decisions for your own system:
- A home burglary occurs roughly every 13 seconds in the United States
- The amount of time the average burglar spends in a home is between 8-12 minutes
- 47% of burglaries are not planned (crime of opportunity)
- 65% of burglars know their victims
- Police only solve 13% of burglaries
- Over half of burglars enter a home through the front or back door
- Over 80% of burglars gain entry to a house through the first floor
- 65% of burglaries happen between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.
There are a lot of really useful take-aways from the facts listed above. If anything seems to be a constant, it's that burglaries with unknown perpetrators are usually a crimes of opportunity. As the statistics show, almost half of burglaries are not planned. An unsecured first-floor entrance is often the catalyst for an unplanned burglary. This ties in with the constant need for physical fortifications. Keep those doors and windows locked! It's a major deterrent for thieves.
On top of this, burglars are typically aware of when someone is home. They know the best time to strike is when you are not there. Assuming they are persistent enough to make it past your door, it would be incredibly helpful to have an alarm go off. Let them know, that you're aware of their presence. Doing so will limit how much time they have in your house, hopefully minimizing loss.
The statistics show that 65% of burglars know their victims. In the world of Pokémon collectibles, it's much more likely that someone you know will commit the theft. Pokémon collectibles are niche items; so don't be afraid to keep records (serial numbers on PSA slabs). This makes it much harder to resell your cards and can also give you more time to track them down.
When I get the chance to talk security with other collectors, they often ask me what security measure is the best for keeping cards at home. The best measure usually varies depending on the individual, but I find myself giving the same answer more often than not: a home safe.
Over the next several weeks, I'll be posting a series of in-depth articles about home safes. These upcoming articles will explore the best options available for a home safe that is specific to Pokémon cards.
Until then, thanks for reading!
Jason Micco is a consultant for trading card preservation and security. He has been an active member in the graded Pokémon card community for over eight years.