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Advice on key safety

15th October 2017

Did you hear about that time that Robert Louis Stevenson was sacked from his job as a maintenance man at the bird reserve? They had no choice really – he decked a jackal and missed a hide. I’ve told that joke to literally dozens of people now and not one of them have laughed, so this was my final go. I can sense the tumbleweed, but drop me a postcard or telegram if you did chuckle just so that I have some form of validation. Regardless of all that, there is a tenuous connection between that ‘joke’ and the subject of today’s blog which will all be about hiding keys – asking whether you should, and if so, the places you should definitely avoid. 

Ideally, you would never hide your house keys around your property. The safest place for them to be is on your person at all times. Hiding originals or duplicates anywhere away from you runs the risk of an unintended “seeker” coming across them, and gaining the easiest of access to your property. If you must hide them though, here are a few places you should certainly side-step. 

Under doormats

Need I really start with this? It may be convenient, right next to the door so family and friends can just crouch down, retrieve the key, and let themselves in to the property, but it’s so obvious and convenient that there can’t be a burglar in the world who wouldn’t make this the first place they look. You can’t lock a doormat, you can’t make it difficult to access (unless you weigh it down with lead blocks, which would rather defeat the purpose of giving family members easy access to it), so this hiding place is pretty much akin to leaving the door unlocked altogether. Remember that more than a third of all burglars access the property through the front door and by hiding a key under a mat right next to that door, you’re making their job ridiculously easy. 

Beneath a flowerpot

Almost as ubiquitous a hiding place as under a doormat is stashing away a key beneath a flowerpot.  In a similar fashion, it’s convenient, close to the door but again, so obvious. We might like to think of burglars as not being the sharpest knives in the great cutlery drawer of life, but even those whose cognitive powers are severely lacking are still unlikely to be fooled by this hiding place. A hiding place that becomes even less of a good idea if you only have one or two pots on display – you’re not even providing the would-be burglar with a challenge. Perhaps if you had hundreds of pots, then hiding a key under or within one of those seems a little more reasonable (so long as you remember which one you chose), but even so, the chances are that it will be found eventually. Leaving things to lady luck is not to be recommended.

In your purse or wallet

A change of tack for this one, and I appreciate that I have already said the best place to keep your keys is on your person. However, keep them separate from your purse or wallet.  Look, no matter how careful we are, from time to time we lose things. Whether this be keys, wallets, our marbles, or the direction our country is meant to be taking. These things just happen. Losing your keys is an annoyance. Losing your wallet or purse is an annoyance. But losing them both at the same time...well, it’s the holy grail of terribleness. If someone steals or finds your wallet or purse and the key is in there, not only do they have the means to access your house, but it’s a fairly safe bet they will know your exact address too. Look at your driving licence card. What’s on it? Yup, as well as the photo that you’d rather people didn’t see, your address is on there too, clear as day. Short of pouring a burglar a welcoming brandy, the wallet/keys combo could hardly be more accommodating.  

On top of the door frame

We’ve all seen people reach for keys on top of doors, feeling around with their hand until it alights on something metallic. And because we’ve all seen it, we all know about it, and thus the burglars do too (you can sense a theme here). The only burglars that will be thwarted by this method would be those of the size of the late Ronnie Corbett. Any Ronnie Barkers or John Cleeses would have no such issues. 

So I’ve mentioned a few places NOT to leave your keys. Where SHOULD you leave them? Well, as I said at the beginning, ideally they shouldn’t be left outside at all. All the places I’ve mentioned are obvious and any I’d go on to mention now would be ones the burglar has already considered. However there is one way of a burglar knowing where you’ve hidden them and still not being able to do anything about it, and that is by using a secure lock box. You might have seen these on the outside of buildings, with numbered buttons on the front. These will only open if you type in the correct combination, releasing the keys that can be kept inside. Ensure that only trusted people know the number, and immediately change it if you think it has become known more widely. Also ensure that the lockbox itself is of sufficient quality, and can’t just be broken into with a screwdriver or wrench. 

Apart from a lock box, the message I really want to leave you with is that there is NO safe place to leave your keys hidden around the outside of your house. Burglars have come across all these places before – if you can think of a location to leave your keys, the chances are a burglar can think of the same location to search for them. Don’t take that chance. 

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