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The places your kids can hide a ‘secret stash’ might surprise you

Everyday items made with secret compartments easily available online

PONTE VEDRA, Fla. – From deodorant to lint rollers, devices that look and work like everyday items -- only they’re made with secret compartments -- are easy for your kids to get, and you might be surprised at just how well they hide what your kids don’t want you to find.

A mother of three, who was pretty confident she could not be fooled, volunteered to let News4Jax Consumer Investigator Lauren Verno hide fake drugs around her house in some of these devices to see if she could find them.

Elizabeth Alford is mom to a 16-, 14- and 11-year-old. With two teenagers, she had no problem letting Lauren put her to the test in her home.

“I have, what I think, are really good kids. They have not gotten in major trouble," Alford said. "However, I know that they will make bad choices. I know that they’re going to make mistakes. I know that’s coming at some point, so your story intrigued me because I want to make sure I’m alert and on top of what’s going on.”

Items with secret compartments easily available online

We searched online and easily found everyday items available that are marketed as legitimate hiding places. Some reviews touted the products as perfect for travel -- since you can really use them but also hide things in them like money and jewelry.

We purchased six items for less than $20 each -- and some of them looked just like real brand names we are familiar with.

Six items News4Jax purchased online that all contain a secret compartment.
Six items News4Jax purchased online that all contain a secret compartment. (WJXT)

We bought a lint roller, a hairbrush, a water bottle, a stick of deodorant with a “Speed Stick” label, lip balm with a “ChapStick” label and a pen labeled “Sharpie.” Each item really works but also contains that secret compartment.

All of the items we bought were delivered to us within two days.

Mom hunts for ‘secret stash’

After Lauren filled the six purchased items with fake drugs -- using things like flour, candy and thyme to mimic the appearance of drugs -- she hid them in plain sight in Alford’s kids’ bedrooms and bathroom. Then, we let Alford hunt.

It wasn’t exactly easy for Alford.

“This is scary. This is really scary,” she said while searching.

In the end, some of the items she couldn’t find at all on her own. Others she overlooked several times but eventually found after some hints from Lauren. She was also surprised to realize that the deodorant, hairbrush and pen really worked as they appeared to -- only with the additional secret compartment.

Consumer Investigator Lauren Verno surprises Elizabeth Alford after showing the secret compartment built into the pen.
Consumer Investigator Lauren Verno surprises Elizabeth Alford after showing the secret compartment built into the pen. (WJXT)

“Well, OK, you got me,” she said. “I’m just kind of blown away right now.”

Warning signs for parents

News4Jax crime and safety expert Ken Jefferson said there are two warning signs for parents to watch for:

1. The major clue to pay attention to is the price tag. For example, look at your Amazon account and purchase history. If you see a $10 charge for one “Sharpie” pen, something that should cost about $2 for a pack of two, you’ll want to investigate further and definitely ask questions.

2. If you are normally the one to buy things like deodorant or a hairbrush for your child -- only now your child has an item that didn’t come from you -- you need to ask questions and take a closer look.

News4Jax Crime and Safety Expert Ken Jefferson speaks to Consumer Investigator Lauren Verno.
News4Jax Crime and Safety Expert Ken Jefferson speaks to Consumer Investigator Lauren Verno. (WJXT)

Jefferson said the fact that these products are so easily available online should be eye-opening for anyone with children.

“These are serious issues that are in our society today that we’ve got to be cognizant of," Jefferson warned. “We can’t hide our head in the sand thinking, ‘Oh never my child,’ because you never know.”


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