On January 21, 2000, actor Nicholas Cage came home to find his copy of Action Comics #1 missing, along with copies of Detective Comics #27 and Marvel Mystery #71. Cage had paid $150,000 for the Man of Steel’s first appearance in 1997. He kept his prized comics displayed in high-security frames on a wall. Frantic upon finding the frames empty, he called the police. The Marvel Mystery issue was tracked down a few months later through an eBay auction, but Cage did not recover his Action Comics #1 until 2011 when it turned up in an abandoned storage locker. He resold it for a record $2,160,000. His Detective Comics #27 remains missing.
You probably don’t own Action Comics #1, but you might have other valuable comics, action figures, video games and collectibles hidden in your nerd cave. Here are some tips on how to keep your prized collection secure.
Home Security Basics
Following basic home security best practices is key in keeping your collectibles safe. Deterrence is your best defense, so make sure your home appears occupied at all times. If you have a second car, keeping it parked in the driveway when you are away, helps your home look occupied, interviewed burglars say. Keeping loud music or a TV on when you are out is another good deterrent. A large, barking dog will also scare away most burglars, though some will try to befriend it by feeding it. Keep your property well-lit, and trim any trees or bushes where burglars could hide. Display security cameras prominently to let burglars know they are being watched. Set motion sensors and loud alarms to protect major entry points.
Most thieves simply walk in through an open door while you are at work, so keeping your doors locked with deadbolts is fundamental. Keep your windows locked as well, adding solder to screw heads so that burglars can’t unscrew them after cutting a hole in your window. Bars, burglar-resistant glass, motion detectors and alarms can add security to your windows. Make sure no windows or decks can be accessed from nearby trees. Use bars to block sliding panels from being opened.
When it comes to home security systems, today’s smart home technology makes it much easier to install high-tech security affordably. Door and window sensors provide the first line of defense, backed up by motion sensors. Set sensors to trigger lights and alarms. Use central security monitoring to verify alarms before notifying authorities.
You can connect your security camera network to your smartphone so you can monitor your home remotely. Wireless surveillance cameras are easiest to install and don’t have wires that burglars can cut. If any parts of your security system do have wires, keep them concealed.
Securing Your Collectibles
Sensors, alarms and security cameras can also be placed strategically to film rooms where you keep collectibles. As with your home in general, deterrence is your best defense. Keeping noise on in your nerd cave can make it sound like you are in the room. A solid door with a strong lock can keep your Fortress of Solitude secure. Strong display cases with alarms add further barriers.
Concealment and deception are also effective. Displaying your most valuable collectibles looks cool, but it also invites theft, as Cage’s case illustrates. Most thieves aren’t collectible experts, so leaving less valuable items unguarded while keeping your true valuables hidden can distract them. Experienced thieves know where to look for hidden objects, though, so don’t keep them in obvious places. Consider getting a hidden fireproof safe for your most valuable items. However, some fireproof safes can collect moisture which can damage comics, so research your safe’s humidity features and consider using airtight containers for items in safes.
If your collectibles get stolen despite your best efforts, insurance can help you replace your collection. Most home insurance policies have limits in the range of $1,500 for covered collectible items, so if you need to ensure a specific item that exceeds what your policy covers, you should ask your insurance agent about getting a floater policy. You can also get special collector insurance. Make sure you keep all of your collectibles inventoried and photographed, and get them appraised annually.