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Do You Hide A Spare Key? Here Are Some Bad Places And Good Places

I ask people this question a lot - do you hide a spare key?

Have you ever been locked out of your house?  About 30 years ago we locked ourselves out, and we had to call a locksmith, who, for a lot of money, came to the house and physically picked the lock to get us inside. 

That was a huge lesson.

But, if you want to avoid that, and want to hide a key someplace, there are some very bad, and some very good, places to do that.

 

THE BAD PLACES

 

Think carefully - what would those be?

Certainly under the mat or a flower pot on the front porch.  According to the Washington Post almost 1/3 of burglaries happen through the front door.  Either a key is found, or the lock set is bumped.  You can read about bump keys by clicking here.  We have had the Medeco lock sets on our doors for many years - they cannot be bumped.

Other bad places would be the famous fake rock in the yard.  If you, and everyone else, knows about the fake rocks, don't you think burglars might also?  Similar to that, one of those magnetized key holders behind a downspout or some other place it would stick could easily be found by a burglar, who also happens to know about the magnetized key holders.

One more place would be inside your wallet.  What happens if you lose your wallet (or purse)?  The finder has not only your address but your house key.  A burglary could literally happen inside of a few minutes.

 

THE GOOD PLACES

 

Probably the best way to protect your house when you are away is to know your neighbors.  And especially let them know when you will be away.  They can watch the house, pick up your mail and newspapers, and even park a car in your driveway.  But the best neighbors are those you can trust with your key.  I happen to be the repository for many keys in my neighborhood.  Only once have I had to go into a house, when my wife thought she heard a water leak.  Putting on my home inspector hat, I roamed all around and could find nothing.  When they got home I told them I was in the house and why and all was well.

Another good place is somewhere burglars would not think to look.  That might include under the doghouse, an out-of-the-way spot in the shed, inside the garage in something that does not look like a key holder (like a key safe made to look like one of many oil cans) or in a place that only you would know to look in.  I even saw a fake sprinkler head advertised as a key holder.  As one of many sprinkler heads in the yard it would be very hard and time consuming to determine which it might be.  A federal agent friend once suggested to me that a magnetized key holder under the car is a good idea.  You know it is there and your hidden key is not home when you are not at home!

Another great burglar deterrent, and way of not locking yourself out or losing your key, would be to take advantage of technology.  Out now are "automation door locks" which work off of computers and smart phones.  You can simply unlock the house from the office computer for the plumber, or from your phone while standing on the front porch. 

So, keep all this in mind as you try to prevent yourself from getting into your own house!  Did I say that right?  Yes, I did.  It's better to prevent yourself from not being able to get into your house!  My English teachers would recognize that as a double negative!  That sort of prevention takes forethought.

My recommendation:  as with everything, be smart!  Take advantage of yourself, your friends, new ideas and new technology.  And get into your house when you need to get in!  Who doesn't like that idea?

 

 

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560

www.jaymarinspect.com


Comment balloon 26 commentsJay Markanich • January 07 2015 04:43AM

Comments

Good morning Jay,

Having acreage gives me more options to place a hidden key. I am still thinking as to where am I going to leave the extra key. My thought has always been to place in a lock box, now I have to figure out as to where am I going to place the lock box:)))))

Posted by Katina Hargrove 352-551-0308, Broker/Owner, GRI,SFR, REALTOR® (Stake Your Land Realty, Inc.) over 5 years ago

Fantastic ideas! Thanks for sharing.

Posted by Joe Jackson, Clintonville and Central Ohio Real Estate Expert (Keller Williams Capital Partners Realty) over 5 years ago

We have a combo box by the front door and the garage has a keypad if we do not have an opener, By the way we do not leave the opener in the car when it will be parked somewhere else for a few days,, i.e. the airport when we are on vacation.

Posted by Rob D. Shepherd, Principal Broker GRI, SRES (Windermere/lane county) over 5 years ago

Wonderful article with many good suggestions.  I also suggest the lockbox especially if you give your children a key they may lose Jay

Posted by Eileen Burns, FL Probate Agent, Hotel & Land Specialist (Trans State Commercial RE Ft. Lauderdale/Miami/Palm Beach) over 5 years ago

Yes, I so agree w/ you. Another important consideration w/ the combo lock is to make sure you block it when you use it (same way I do w/ an ATM card).

Great suggestions.

Posted by Debbie Gartner, The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers (The Flooring Girl) over 5 years ago

Katina - the police say a lock box is not the best alternative for hiding a key.

Anytime Joe.  Thanks!

Good idea Rob.  I also unplug our garage door opener while we are away.  And turn off the water inside the house!

Thanks Eileen.  The front door combo or garage door opener is probably a better alternative than a lock box.

If'n people are a' watching Debbie!  Fer sher.

 

 

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

 Good morning Jay. I find it very interesting how often I find keys in panel boxes or other obvious places. Gosh! People are very trusting.

Posted by TeamCHI - Complete Home Inspections, Inc., Home Inspectons - Nashville, TN area - 615.661.029 (Complete Home Inspections, Inc.) over 5 years ago

I see keys around too Michael.  According to what I read, only about 12% of burglaries are planned.  The majority are simply momentary opportunism, like kicking in a door, or a home invasion.  But if a key is under the mat, that just makes the momentary opportunity that much easier.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

We have a place such as what you have talked about but not exactly.  We need to change it's soooo obvious

Posted by James Dray, Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results (Fathom Realty) over 5 years ago

Don't make it easy for the bad guys Sheriff!  But you already know that...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

Funny you didn't mention a lock box. Works well in real estate and I have seen them used by homeowners. 

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) over 5 years ago

Now there you go... telling everyone about the fake rock.... you got me!! Just kidding, my son has the key to my house, would never hide one NEAR the door yet!

Posted by Fred Hernden, CMI, Albuquerque area Master Inspector (Superior Home Inspections - Greater Albuquerque Area) over 5 years ago

Jim - see my answer in #6 above.  Here they are cut off with a hand cutter and compromised with hand-held saws.  I broke into one once on the permission of the agent to get us into a home inspection!  Took me no time.  Of course, I did it with my bare hands...  okay, not with my bare hands.  I won't say here how I did it.  Not hard though.

Fred - a little neon sign, with an arrow, saying, "Key Here!" should work.

 

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

Changed all of our exterior swing doors into automatic locking with touchpads!  Best idea ever!  As long as you remember to change the batteries, they will never fail you!  Easy to change codes, etc... looking forward to updating to bluetooth versions soon!

Posted by Edward Hamill, Market Leader / CBInTouch Expert (NRT Southeast / Coldwell Banker) over 5 years ago

Great job Edward.  And life is easier, apparently!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

Thank you for sharing these great tips. I will share this post with others.

Posted by Gita Bantwal, REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel (RE/MAX Centre Realtors) over 5 years ago

Glad you like it as always Gita.  I thought it was a good tutorial.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

 

      We keep one buried about two inches deep in the ground (we live on acreage).  It has vaseline on it to keep it from rusting, and is also wrapped in plastic.  You have to take 10 steps from one tree toward another tree, and then scratch around to find it.

Posted by Fred Griffin Tallahassee Real Estate, Licensed Florida Real Estate Broker (Fred Griffin Real Estate) over 5 years ago

I keep one in a contractor's box on the property. Even if you find it you can't get to the key without significant difficulty.

Posted by RVA HomePRO Michael Hottman, Helping you achieve goals in life & real estate (RVA HomePRO Realtor with Keller Williams serving Hanover, Henrico, Chesterfiled and Richmond, Virginia) over 5 years ago

Wow, Fred, X marks the spot!  Don't be like the squirrels and forget where it is!

Michael - once on a home inspection the realtor could not get into his own supra-key box.  We ended up breaking into it!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

The world is going "less"...paperless...and now key less...which is just what we are doing as well.

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Real Estate Agents - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) over 5 years ago

Hi Jay: Stopping by from Roy Kelley 's page. These hiding places you mentioned are the most common spots homeowners pick to keep the spare keys.

Great and smart advice to be safe.

Posted by Maria Gilda Racelis, Home Ownership is w/in Reach. We Make it Happen! (Home Buyers Realty, LLC-Manchester, Bolton. Vernon,Ellington) over 5 years ago

Good morning Jay. Very good post. I have keys with friends and neighbors and hidden in the rear yard too.

Posted by Sheila Anderson, The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133 (Referral Group Incorporated) over 5 years ago

Keyless is great S&D, so long as there is a back up key if it fails.  My keyless has a back up key!

Thanks Maria.  When people are predictable burglars are more effective!

All good plans Sheila.  Hard to beat trusted neighbors.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

Thank you Eli.  I am the neighborhood repository for keys near my house!

Good neighbors are great security.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 5 years ago

Eli - I have never gone to anybody to offer to keep their keys.  They have all come to me individually and without knowledge that others have also.  Everyone knows me.  I am the "local home inspector," so everyone calls me with questions.  And I am a scoutmaster so they know they can trust me!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 5 years ago

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