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Keeping Keys Safe in Your Home

By: Louise Smith, barrister - Updated: 18 Mar 2015 | comments*Discuss
Keys security Systems home Security

No matter how sophisticated the security systems that have been installed, it is likely that somewhere along the line a key is needed to get into a property. Keeping keys safe is, therefore, a vital part of home security. If householders do not protect their keys and this leads to a theft or burglary it is possible that any subsequent insurance claim could be compromised – the insurer may take the view that the policy holder contributed to the theft by their carelessness.

House Keys

When moving into a new home the most exciting moment will often be as the new owner holds the key in their hand and feels it turn in the lock for the first time. In the midst of their reverie householders rarely pause to ask themselves - how many other people have turned the key in this lock before? Or even – who else might have a key for this door? The first thing to do upon moving into a new home is to change the locks on any external doors.

Once a householder walks through their front door and hears it close behind them it is easy to feel safe. The natural thing to do is to leave keys somewhere near the front door – there may even be a hook or a special bowl where they always go. However, this is exactly what burglars expect people to do. By fishing through the letter box with a hook, keys left near the front door can easily be retrieved and stolen. Leaving keys in the lock is inadvisable for similar reasons. This is particularly risky if the front door has a glass panel either in it or near it: the glass can easily be broken and a burglar can reach in and grab the keys.

Spare Keys

A spare set of house keys should never be left under a flower pot or the door mat or any of the other obvious places. This is exactly where any burglar will look if they are trying to work out just how easy it might be to break into a property.

Labelling Keys

House keys should never be labelled with the householder’s address. If keys are labelled and lost, any dishonest person who finds them will know exactly where to go for an easy burglary. It is possible to label keys in different ways so that they have an identifying feature and some means of contacting the person to whom they belong. Some household insurers provide policy holders with a key fob bearing a unique code number and a telephone number operated by the insurance company. If the keys are found by someone who calls the number, they can easily be reunited with their owner.

Leaving Keys with a Neighbour

If householders have a trusted neighbour, a spare set of keys could be left with them. When the householder is away the neighbour could also pop in to pick up any mail and make the property look more lived in. When neighbours are prepared to keep an eye on each other’s properties this has a positive effect on the sense of wellbeing and safety within a community. Again, if keys are left with a neighbour, householders must make sure that the keys are not labelled with the property’s address.

Car Keys

Special care should be taken to keep car keys safe. When at home, car keys should not be left near the front door; just like house keys these can easily be fished through the letter box. With the car conveniently parked outside, this is virtually an open invitation to car thieves.

Car keys should never be left in an unattended vehicle. It would only take a matter of moments for a thief to get into the car and drive off. In addition a spare set of keys should never be “hidden” in the car. If a car is stolen after being left with keys in it, it is highly likely that the insurance company will refuse to pay for the loss because the owner will be deemed to have contributed to the theft.

Key-holding Services

If a home is protected by a remotely monitored alarm system it is likely that the security company monitoring the system will keep a spare set of keys for the property. If the alarm is activated staff from the company can visit the property and ascertain whether there has been a break-in or just a false alarm. In addition, some security companies will offer to hold a spare set of keys as a stand-alone service.

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@Glaisdale. Unfortunately many insurance companies do make stipulations such as these. Ask your landlord what alternative solutions can be provided.
ProtectingYourself - 20-Mar-15 @ 10:33 AM
I am nearly 75 independent and in good health.However,I live on my own and my home is accessed only by ONE security key which opens the communal front door and my own rented apartment.I have asked my landlord if I might leave my spare key (for which they charged me £25) and which is at the moment with another elderly and unwell friend, if I could instead install a key safe in the porch.The site I would choose is not visible from the road or easily visible anyway as it would be on a side pillar and face the front door within the porch.The landlord says that their insurers would not allow it.I want to challenge this with my landlord. Do I have a case?
GLAISDALE - 18-Mar-15 @ 11:10 AM
@bren. Could you keep them on your person? Eg. on a string/pocket etc? That way you'd not lose them and your son would have to manhandle you to get them. Your neighbour might also look after a set of keys for you under the instruction not to give them to anyone but you.
ProtectingYourself - 20-Jan-15 @ 2:34 PM
All the above ideas are wonderful but what on earth can my Husband and I do?. Our son constantly steals from us to buy illegal substances with and we are both so stressed we would forget out safe place. HELP !!!!
Bren - 17-Jan-15 @ 6:12 PM
leaving keys in the lock overnight. This is a risk analysis. If you take the keys out and hide them, how do you escape in the event of a fire? If you leave the keys in the lock you are inviting thieves to enter. So I suppose the bottom line is, do you want to die in a fire, or the risk of thieves entering your house?
dave - 25-Oct-11 @ 8:37 AM
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