Cops who desire to produce results—discover hidden contraband—when conducting searches of homes and other buildings absolutely must learn to think like bad guys. It’s a must if there’s any hope of locating well-concealed evidence.
Sure, some crooks lack imagination and leave the fruits of their crimes out in the open for all to see. Others leave evidence on tabletops, on beds, in the living room floor, etc. simply because they believe they’re untouchable.
However, some criminals prefer that police not discover their stash of secret weapons, drugs, stolen jewelry, and other incriminating evidence. Therefore, they hide the goods. And when doing so, well, they sometimes select some cleverly camouflaged spots, such as …
- Hanging, taping, securing objects above the inside doorway/entrance to a closet. More times than I’d care to count, officers simply do not look there when searching small closet spaces that are not large enough to step inside. Instead, they tend to examine the obvious—straight ahead, above, below, and on shelving. They paw through hanging and folded clothing items, shoes, clothes hampers, the floor, etc. But above the doorframe…not so much.
- The bottoms of furniture, including inside the undersides of sofas and chairs. The cloth material attached there is easily removed simply by popping off a few staples to reveal a huge hiding spot among the framework. Crooks sometimes conceal drugs or guns or other items inside these cavernous spaces; therefore, officers should look for signs of tool marks that reveal tampering with staples, tacks, or other fasteners.
- Speakers (surround sound, stereo, etc.) are an excellent spot for hiding items. They’re basically wooden boxes with front or back covers that are often easily removed, exposing decent size hidey-holes.
- Fake aerosol cans, wall clocks, vegetable cans, beer cans, and so, so much more. Anyone can purchase a vast assortment of faux containers that look like a typical product found in a typical home. I once discovered a spray can of “WD-40” whose bottom screwed off to reveal a hollow space containing a hefty-size plastic bag filled with cocaine. (Click the link in this paragraph to see some of these items).
- Fake or hollowed-out books inserted among dozens of everyone’s favorite reading material. Yes, right there between the latest Reacher adventure and copies of Heather Graham’s and Tami Hoag’s books could very well be a stolen SIG Sauer hidden inside a scooped-out copy of Louise Penny’s A Better Man.
- Cutout sections of floors or wall paneling are excellent places to conceal goods. The space inside a standard wall is typically the size of the building material used (2x4s, for example). Wall studs are generally placed 16″ apart which offers a hiding space of 4″ deep by 16″ wide. The height of the space could be as tall as 4 feet, or so, since a short section of 2×4 is installed horizontally at the mid point of a wall (more are installed if the ceiling height is over 8 feet). These cross pieces provide support as well as something permanent to attach wallboard at the center point (from ceiling to floor) of the wall. During a search of a home (for drugs) members of our team discovered a removable portion of paneling that concealed a sawed-off shotgun hidden inside a wall between a family den and a kitchen. The illegal weapon fit nicely inside the spaces between 2×4 wall studs.
- Window air-conditioning units have removable front covers that reveal small but handy hiding spots. However, if the items hidden are drugs it’s quite easy for a canine to discover the illegal substances. This is especially so if the unit is running because the fan helps push the odors out into the room(s). To a trained narcotics dog that’s like switching on a neon sign that reads “DRUGS ARE HERE!”
- I’ve mentioned this one before, the space behind light switch and receptacle covers, but will do so again in case someone missed it. It’s a small spot but is one where tiny items such as flash drives, narcotics, and jewelry could be concealed. Also, click here to view a totally fake receptacle that’s actually a wall safe.
What’s in Your Wall?