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  1. Cdn Writer

    Cdn Writer Contributor Contributor

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    Hidden rooms, secret doors, escape rooms/panic rooms

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by Cdn Writer, Jul 5, 2020.

    Any experienced handymen or handywomen out here?

    I have a story set in 1960s, the main baddie character with his wife is doing some really bad stuff (look at my progress journal if you want details) and he does come into contact with people who vehemently disagree with how he makes his money as well as law enforcement (eventually).

    I am thinking he's smart enough to figure out that he needs some protection and he's not the kind of guy to hire bodyguards so he depends on secretcy and misdirection. A couple of bolt holes fit the bill. I have a couple more ideas in mind but to start with:

    I envision that they own (eventually) an apartment building and they controls the information as to who rents all the rooms. They can doctor this stuff. Anyone who examines the records will see that apartment #2 is theirs, and they have neighbours on either side so anyone seeking them probably won't look there.

    So, he has his own apartment, then I want him to have two secret doors in his apartment, leading to adjoining apartments so that if anyone breaks into apartment #2, he can run out into either #1 or #3 which are on either side of him. Ideally, he will run before anyone sees him leave so hopefully they will think he went out and not realize he's put his escape plan into motion.

    (Regards the misdirection, I am going to write it in such a way that people do not realize the female member of this couple is heavily involved, so I don't plan for her to escape with him but more to stay behind and tie up loose ends, then disappear herself and join him eventually.)

    How difficult is it to do this? He does it himself and he doesn't leave any evidence behind - I mean a very close examination would find it but a quick search would not. The room's dimensions do not change. Going over the room itself with a tape measure will not reveal the existence of the secret doors. I'm thinking if they find one door, they'll assume that's it....when really there are two.

    In this era of YouTube, I can find plenty of videos on secret rooms, passageways, and hidden doors. But in the past, 1970s forward, how difficult would this have been for the average handyman or handywoman with time on their hands and a determination to do this for their own safety and protection?

    I get they'll need tools to cut through walls - drywall, studs - and they'll have to install some type of loose drywall to serve as a door either one that swings (needs hinges) open or slides open. They'll need some type of latch to keep things in place....oh and they'll need to toss any debris they make when they set this up.

    Another option, since he owns the building is to have a trapdoor and a method of disappearing from his own apartment into the apartment below him - I'd hide the trapdoor under his bed so that people are not constantly walking over it and disguise it as well.


    So....after that lengthy explanation, which is easier for someone with basic skills and a deep determination to accomplish this? Nothing that requires a red seal verification in any type of woodworking or carpentry skills. It also has to be doable with electric power tools and hand tools that were available back in the 1970s - and yes, that does include chain saws for those of you that wonder! They owns the building, they're not worried about the noise because they can control who's in the building when they work.

    If it helps, this guy works very, very seldom (his illegitimate business makes a pile) so he has a lot of time on his hands - think of Tim Robbins' character in "The Shawshank Redemption" (the movie) tunnelling out of the prison - and a lot of determination because this is survival for him.....if he doesn't escape, he gets seriously hurt or even killed.

    Thanks all!!
     
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  2. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    Since the 2 apartments on either side are empty, he could store (secretly) weapons in both that he could grab on his way out, plus several bug-out bags in each as well for different situations. Google bug-out bags, they'd be stocked with everything he'd need for an extended bug-out including money and maybe fake ID.

    I don't know if they would have been called that in your timeframe. I never heard of them until seeing YouTube videos in recent years. But the need for a quick getaway certainly existed for all of human history, as long as there's been crime, and people who lived the life probably prepared as much as possible (unless they were just dumb and/or completely living on the spur of the moment all the time).
     
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  3. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll It's Coffee O'clock everywhere. Contributor

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    I think he would want the other's filled (even by fictional) tenants that he could
    trust not to rat on him at the very least. That way they won't accidentally be shown
    to prospective tenants on the off chance. Would make it a bit safer to stash things,
    and/or work without complaints of noise. :)

    If he knows the layout of the apartments (and they mirror one another, then it
    might be easier for him to make a path from one closet to another, keeping the
    entry points more concealed by an extra door (barrier) that won't be noticed
    as quickly by anyone inspecting the room (provided they check at all). May even
    have a removable access panel on/in the drywall in a closet for electrical or
    some plumbing maintenance, which would make the hidden escape route
    pretty much invisible regardless of how good the detectives are (at least for a
    good long while, before they may consider it a possibility. Weapons, money,
    paraphernalia can be hidden in the space as well. :)

    A fella could do that kind of work in a day or less, and not need to do to much
    extra to make it all work. :)

    [​IMG]
     
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  4. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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  5. Cloudymoon

    Cloudymoon Member

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    Why oh why am I watching a video about making a secret door... :superconfused:
    Reminded me of an episode of the Persuaders back in the 70's … but you pulled the candelabra and the oak wall panelling slid back, revealing a tunnel to the local pub. Those were the days...
     
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  6. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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  7. Cloudymoon

    Cloudymoon Member

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    Brilliant! :D:D:D
     
  8. Cloudymoon

    Cloudymoon Member

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    You're wasted on here Cave Troll. If by any chance you want to arrange the biggest bank heist of all time in your spare time, do count me in :D
     
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  9. LazyBear

    LazyBear Banned

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    My parents made a hatch in the floor for storing food around 1980 before they had electricity in the cabin. They abandoned the hatch because the mouse got inside anyway by crawling the narrow tube. (instantly busted) A floor hatch would be more than enough space for illegal weapons and fake passports without drawing any unwanted attention.

    The Trump hotel used a shell company for each Russian gang renting permanent rooms. A fake passport and some extra laps around the block to deter pursuit will do the rest to keep the police away. If anything inside is found, use a system of codes so that their enemies won't see anything else than grocery lists and strange poetry. All fake buildings will eventually be exposed if tested too many times and bigger spaces are more obvious, so keeping a low profile and letting grunts do the dirty work is always the first defence for evil masterminds.
     
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  10. Cdn Writer

    Cdn Writer Contributor Contributor

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    Jason Hanson has a book, "Spy Secrets that can save your life: A former CIA officer reveals safety and survival techniques to keep you and your family protected." which does discuss this concept.

    Money, fake id, keys to a safe house somewhere else, maybe a car, and possibly a gun would be ideal for a bug-out bag. I sort of envisioned my guy as being a clumsy and overweight fellow, kind of teddy bearish in appearance. His "softness" is his armour, it hides his true abilities as a criminal mastermind. Don't hold me to that description because I haven't really fleshed him out yet.




    I suppose he could have relatives in either side of him, so that covers the loyalty issue. The problem I have with his crimes is that although what he is doing is not illegal when he starts, they will have people who are vehemently opposed to that crime just on principle so having neighbours could backfire on him - "You mean Moe and Grace are taking nikked pictures o' kiddies?! Sure, officer, help yourself to my place if it helps ya to bust them!" I'm not sure that having family is enough protection. I was thinking they could just be tenants on paper but actually be vacant so that he has privacy in his own place.

    Having the secret door between the apartments in the back of the closet is an excellent idea, I'll use that! So the regular closet door. The clothing in the closet. Then the secret door at the rear with some type of latch so it doesn't open by accident.


    I'm eventually going to have the evil mastermind take a step back from the day to day business because of the escalating violence and the crackdown by the cops on this crime. I can see him eventually having a crew around him to protect him but for the first 5 or 10 years he's going to be extremely low key and basically never seen. Having big hulking bodyguards a la the size of Mr. Olympia would defeat that purpose.

    With regards to code, I have already been developing the story in that direction with the wife using fake names and recording the details of the business transactions in code. It will just be Moe & Grace (husband and wife) that will know this code.

    Thanks all!
     
  11. Cdn Writer

    Cdn Writer Contributor Contributor

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    And I thought it was difficult to have a hidden room....this guy did it. How are all these people coming up with all these secret things without people being aware of it????

    https://books.google.ca/books/about/Resurrection.html?id=IimEPQAACAAJ#:~:text=After%20being%20imprisoned%20in%20a%20five-by-six-foot%20underground%20cell,would%20eventually%20be%20recovered%20with%20her%20dead%20body.

    (I was trying to find the wikipedia page...oh well, maybe someone will buy his ^ book. No interest on my part, it was just the first result from the search.)
     
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  12. KiraAnn

    KiraAnn Active Member

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    Back in the day, Simon Templar, in the books anyway, owned two adjacent flat blocks under different assumed names. The basements were linked by a hidden door tunnel. He hired a couple of builders, with bonuses, to keep it secret. And used a third name for that, natch!
     
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  13. DriedPen

    DriedPen Member

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    I am not a professional carpenter, but I have built my own house from the ground up.

    That being said, you would be amazed at where there are ample amounts of usable space in a house. Building it myself, I took the time to add in places for some guns to be secreted away. My shotgun for instance is right beside the door, but out of sight in the back of a built in bench. I could answer the door, and yet be within arms length of a loaded shotgun in case the person at the door gets stupid on me. (Has happened).

    Another spot I have a hidden gun is above my kitchen stove. There just happened to be some pretty decent wasted space, so with some magnets, I made a wooden cover held in place by magnets. I have a 9mm with round chambered up there. Not super convenient to get to, but an option...

    The only way to defeat a tape measure for a hidden space of a room, is to go either down or over a room, but there is more to it then that.

    In order for someone to not know there is a 4 foot wide secret room, a person would have to measure all the rooms along a stretch of building, and then measure the length of building too. From that subtract out the room dimensions. What I am trying to say is, a person would have to go through a lot of work to determine a few feet is missing. I have a closet like that. In a 40 foot long addition, there is a 8 foot wide utility room, an 8 foot wide bathroom, then a 8 foot wide closet, and finally a 16 foot wide bedroom. But let me ask you this? Would you notice if the closet was 6 feet instead of 8 feet, giving me a 2 x 12 foot space to pack in some guns? Probably not. You would walk in and think, this is a pretty big closet even if it was only 6 feet by 12 feet. That kind of stuff is called "hiding in plain sight".
     

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