I am in a big dilemma: I recently emptied my bank account. I took home whole 15 euro and 47 cents. And I have difficulties where to hide it. Behind the ice-box? Beneath the floor? Inside the cool-cream jar? Deep down the pet’s food bag? Dog-house and under the matrass are out of question. Because a) I have no dog-house and b) my matrass is on rolls. I am really in big dilemma where to hide my precious wealth, my hard-worked saved money. Then all possible and impossible places to hide money at home are known to burglars and the police alike.
Billions of cash are stashed in Greek homes
No one knows just how much cash lies stashed in Greek homes, secreted in cupboards, at the back of the ice-box, beneath the floor or under the mattress. But by any guess it is well in the billions, and burglars are after their share of loot which is both highly portable and virtually impossible to recover, Reuters reported.
Greece΄s debt crisis has plunged it into five straight years of economic contraction, thrown half of its young people out of work and may see it ejected from the euro zone. In the past two years, Greeks have withdrawn from banks more than 72 billion euros – or close to 7,000 euros for every man, woman and child in the country. And much of that has been taken in cash.
Police say that gangs who may have once eyed “hard targets”, – like the banks themselves, or jewellers – are now going after homes of ordinary people, where there is far less risk and often large stashes of cash freshly withdrawn from savings accounts.
“Many people have withdrawn their money from the banks fearing a financial crash, and they either carry it on them, find a hideout at home or in storage rooms,” said national police spokesman Thanassis Kokkalakis.
“We urge people to trust the banking system, leave their money there, or at least in a safe place, not hide it at home, where they must anyway take the basic security measures,” he said. “Some people don΄t even lock their doors and windows.”
The unexpected bonanza is attracting foreign crime networks, he said, including two from ex-Soviet Georgia which police dismantled in recent months, blaming them for 300 burglaries.
Crime is just one hazard for people storing unusually large hoards of cash, most of which are not insured. There are tales of savings going up in smoke in fires or, as in one case, being lost when a pensioner withdrew his life savings – then died suddenly, before telling his family where they were hidden.
Theft, though, seems the biggest risk and the crime wave has spread far beyond the big cities into rural areas where robbery was little known. Carpenter George Psychogios, 30, withdrew his savings of 8,000 euros and kept them in his house at Arta, a small town 350 km (200 miles) from Athens and known principally for its Byzantine stone bridge and a 13th-century church.
According to the central bank, Greeks withdrew 72 billion euros from bank accounts between January 2010 and March 2012, leaving just 165 billion behind. Since then, withdrawals have accelerated further after an inconclusive May 6 election led EU leaders to talk openly of Greek exit from the single currency.
Some of that money was wired abroad and some spent, but much of it was hidden in homes, either in cash or converted to gold.
If Greece leaves the common currency area, any money left in Greek banks would probably be turned into drachmas worth a good deal less. Euros stashed in a box at home would still be euros. (Further Reading REUTERS via Capital.gr)