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