September 4, 2020
We’ve all done it — placed a spare key someplace near the front door and driven off, feeling a little too confident and secure. The problem is that 33 percent of home burglars enter through the front door, so hiding your key anywhere nearby only makes it easier for them to break into your home. In fact, most burglars tend to commit their crimes close to their own homes and often spend time watching targets to gather information. Perhaps a potential thief even watched you put that key under your doormat. Read on to learn about common key-placing mistakes and how you can outsmart would-be thieves.
Burglars will likely look in these tried-and-true hiding places (admit it, you’ve probably used most of these yourself). That’s why they — in addition to the doormat — are the worst places to hide your spare key:
Under and inside flowerpots.
Under rocks (especially anything that looks like a hide-a-key rock).
Inside your mailbox.
Any metal surface that can hold a magnetic key holder. The same goes for your car keys. Any car thief can locate a magnetic key holder and steal your car in a matter of seconds.
Instead, consider asking nearby friends and trusted neighbors to hold spare keys to your home at their residences rather than hiding the key somewhere. Or consider a push-button lock box, which you can mount on the outside of your home in an inconspicuous place. The lock box allows you to create a combination and gives you more security than simply hiding a key.
When it comes to storing spare keys in your home — including those entrusted to you by neighbors — think inside the box. Using a locking key storage cabinet or safe, which is mounted on a wall inside your home, can really beef up your protection, and can easily be found online or at a home-improvement store.
Also, instead of hanging the keys you use daily on a hook near the door think about employing the key storage cabinet for storing them when not in use. However, this does mean everyone in the house has to keep a key to the cabinet with them.
Even better, some of these devices have the potential to connect with your smartphone via Bluetooth, attach to your key ring, then use two-way geolocation technology to help you quickly locate your keys. An alert feature notifies your smartphone when your keys are close by or nearly out of range, as a warning to not leave them behind.
Having control over your keys at all times is the only way to ensure they don’t fall into the wrong hands. Anytime you move into a new house, have a locksmith change all the locks. You may not know what kind of people lived there before you, or to whom they gave spare keys in the past. A locksmith is an inexpensive investment in your peace of mind and an extra measure to protect your home. You can also consider adding smart locks to your home – eliminating the need to carry a key with you and allowing you to control who has access with customized key codes.
Knowing where your car keys are at all times is also important. Don’t make these frequent mistakes:
Leaving your key in the ignition while the car is unattended.
Keeping the car door unlocked because you’ll “only be gone a second.”
Leaving key rings or spare keys lying on the sill in front of unsecured windows, which can be reached from the outside.
Safety and security are important for your household and belongings. Get smart about storing your spare keys — and only rely on your doormat to wipe your feet.
Lauren Slade is a Dallas-based writer and editor.
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