Web Culture

Beat The Thieves – Keep Your Tech Secure At Home

Guy McDowell 13-11-2013

Get in, get out, get paid. That’s what thieves, crooks and dastardly evil-doers live by. That’s why electronics are also sure-fire bait for bad guys. If one were to get in your front door, grab stuff as they went, and bolted out your back door, what do you think they would get? A laptop on the dining table, an Xbox and flat screen in the living room, a tablet in the kitchen, and one or two cellphones by the back door. Does that sound about right? Those sticky-fingered filchers filled their sacks with pawnable portables and identity-theft data. You are so toast!


It doesn’t have to be that way. You don’t have to live in fear. In fact, you can make protecting your tech downright fun – maybe even a little cottage industry for you! The key to keeping your gadgets secure is simple, ordinary, camouflage. Don’t panic if you don’t like Duck Dynasty, I’m not talking about twigs and tree stands. I’m talking about making your technology blend with your surroundings the way it already has blended with your life. Of course, you shouldn’t only rely on camouflaging your gear, you could also make your computer function as a home security system How To Build A WiFi Home Surveillance System With Your PC Read More .

Keys to Camouflage

When you start to think of camouflaging your equipment, there are some principles to keep in mind. When we detect that something is out of place in its surroundings, its because of one or more of these things: colour, shape, size, and movement. When you start to think in those terms, you’ll think about making your gadget the same colour, shape, or size of something of a lesser value. Or you could just make your tech so butt-ugly that nobody wants it The Art of Stopping Phone Thieves With Uglification Smartphone theft worldwide reached epidemic proportions in 2013, prompting manufacturers, like Samsung, to announce plans to create a device kill-switch. The kill-switch design will turn stolen phones into lifeless hunks of glass and plastic. Can... Read More . Movement applies more to living things, however think of this as masking any blinking lights the device may have.

The Just-a-Book Camo Method

Much of our technology already resembles a book since these are information-based devices and we’re pretty happy with how books have worked for the last thousand years or so. Taking it to its logical conclusion, disguising your laptop, video games, or tablet as a book is a natural step.

If you’re a Mac person, you could buy the $80 BookBook Case for your MacBook Pro. Mimicking a hardcover book, the BookBook gives your laptop a degree of physical protection from bumps and drops as well as blending in with your grandma’s Encyclopedia Britannica set. Just don’t put it with your rare first-editions collection that’s likely to get stolen too. Of course, it’s always a good idea to take other security measures with your laptop How To Prepare Your Laptop For A Case Of Theft The great risk that comes with all portable devices is theft. Not only do you risk losing an expensive piece of hardware, a stolen laptop also contains private and potentially confidential data, for example photos,... Read More and your smartphone Don’t Be A Victim: Practical Tips To Protect Your Smartphone From Theft Considering the cost of a new smartphone, most of us are extremely casual about how we treat them. But keeping tabs on your smartphone isn’t difficult. Keeping it safe from the possibility of theft is... Read More , just in case it gets found anyway!



For the DIY person, there are any number of ways that you can make a book-like cover for your laptop. A quick web search will reveal numerous articles and videos on the topic. I found this article on making a book laptop case at Instructables stimulating to my creativity, however I wouldn’t recommend putting your MacBook into a kid’s book. This would also work great for eReaders like a Kindle or Kobo.


For your video game boxes, you could spring for about $2 each to have JamesBit at Etsy design custom case covers. Now they’ll look like any number of small academic paperbacks sitting on your shelf, and just as shiny too! Of course, if you’re handy with design software and a printer, you could do this for yourself. Maybe you could redesign some real book covers OpenLibrary: Extensive Book Cover Database Read More for more authenticity.



Since we’re cutting up books anyway, how about cutting some up to hide your computer speakers? Or regular speakers for that matter. The crew over at Howcast has a great video on how to do such a thing.

Now your creative camoflouge juices are flowing! Just think what you could hide with an unlimited supply of old books and sharp knives. You could even hide a book, inside of your book. How meta is that?

The Hide-It-In-The-Wall Method

Home entertainment systems can cost as little as a couple hundred dollars up to whatever you want to spend. If you’re at the top-end of that scale, you might have armed guards to protect your bat cave replica media room.



If you’re like the rest of us, building your system into the wall behind a panel may be as close to bat stealth as you’ll get. This is just one example of a simple way to do it. Any sort of wainscoting or paneling makes for a great opportunity to create a hidden door. Note the air vents below it to allow for air to circulate and keep the electronics cool. Plus it just looks like a cold-air intake for the furnace.


For just a few thousand bucks you could get a mirror TV. With this, your flat screen simply turns into another wall fashion accessory. Mind you, if you have teenagers, you really will never get them out from in front of it. They either be watching horrible teen dramas or duck-lipping in front of it for a selfie.

As usual, there is a way to do this yourself. You could contact your local autoglass dealer and see if you can get some one-way mirror and put your LED TV behind it. This method is a lot cheaper than the prefabricated unit, but you may not be able to see the TV as well during daylight.


Now that you’ve got the media system and the TV taken care of, top it off with some in-wall speakers. These are not the ones that simply are recessed into the wall with a speaker grille over them. The specially designed coil and brackets on these in-wall speakers allow them to use the wall itself as the diaphragm. You actually apply the drywall mud right over the speaker! This makes it truly invisible, and protects it from dust and moisture in the room, giving them a long life. Which is good, because they aren’t exactly cheap either. Expect to pay at least $750 each to start.



Maybe you don’t have that kind of coin. That’s okay. There’s always a DIY way to do most things that are otherwise expensive. You may be able to take your current speakers and mount them between the studs in the wall. Then cover them with a nicely framed square of speaker cloth. Not quite as invisible, but definitely less obvious and harder to snatch-and-grab. Or maybe just frame your speakers and them into art like Rebaroque does. Get thinking!


The Takeaway

By looking at these examples, applying the principles of camouflage, thinking like a thief, and doing a little research, you’ll find a way that is suitable to you for hiding your gadgets almost in plain sight. When you do, I hope you’ll come back here and let us know about it! Anonymously of course – we don’t want your neighbourhood ne’er-do-wells knowing your stashing secrets.

Image Credits: Tristan Bowersox/flickr, Book into a laptop case via Instructables,Traditional Media Room by Westerville General Contractors, Rebarouque Speakers via Inhabitat

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  1. Guy M
    November 17, 2013 at 3:47 pm

    We have lots of articles on what to do with old computers and stuff! Maybe that's an option.

  2. dragonmouth
    November 16, 2013 at 4:05 pm

    If thieves broke into my house, they would think they struck gold but they would be sorely disappointed. I have 20-30 PCs and laptops, loads of IDE HDs, CRTs strewn about the house. Unfortunately for the sticky-fingers, the computer stuff is worth more as scrap than as pawnable items. My TVs are 32" CRTs. Takes two people to move them. I guess that is called Security by Obsolescence. :-)

    In fact I wouldn't mind if someone took all that stuff off my hands. I would even help to load their truck.

  3. Guy M
    November 15, 2013 at 12:32 pm

    Thank you. A William Gibson book would be an apt cover for tablets and laptops.

  4. Mark M
    November 14, 2013 at 1:18 am

    I like the "book" covers for laptops and tablets....nice, thanks for the tip