Advice on hiding keys
I was thinking the other day about how I used to play hide and seek as a kid. I was never the best at it – always chose the same hiding place and should really have been easily found. Weirdly, it often took my parents an unusually long time to find me. In fact, once, when I was in the usual hiding place of under my bed, it took them two whole weeks to find me. I was proud of myself that summer, until it later emerged they’d actually gone to Tenerife for a fortnight and used the game as a pretext to leave me at home. But anyway, that story is for another day. What it does bring us on to is the subject of hiding which is what I’ll be talking about today. Not so much hiding ourselves on this occasion, but rather hiding the keys to your house.
I’ll start off by saying that hiding your keys for yourself or others to find and let themselves into your house is NEVER to be recommended. Keep them with you at all times, and if you have spare sets, make sure they’re locked away in your house. If you have sets of keys hidden outside so that family members or friends can easily get them and let themselves into the house, you run a very high risk of someone much more unwelcome finding them, and being able to help themselves to the belongings in your home. To illustrate, here are a few places that you might think are handy places to leave your keys, but trust me – they really aren’t.
Beneath your doormat
Oh come on, really? I mean, really, you’re still doing this? Look, on the one hand I can understand it. The old “I’ve left the key under the mat for you, let yourself in” tactic has been long established and it’s handy for friends or members of your family to find and let themselves in if you’re not there to greet them. But this handiness is a double-edged sword as it’s also incredibly convenient for a burglar to find and let themselves in too. Trust me it’ll be the first place they look – if you’re still one of the many people who use this as a hiding place, you’re almost as well off not even bothering to lock the door at all. Remember that around 35% of burglars break in through the front door – if you leave the key right next to it, you’re not exactly making it challenging for them.
In a purse or wallet
“Hang on,” you’re thinking. “Earlier you were saying to keep your keys on your person. What gives?” If you’re thinking that, then a) you’re right, and b) how impressive are my mind reading skills? I’m practically Derren Brown. Yes, you should keep your keys on your person, but also keep them separate from your purse or wallet. After all, losing things is sadly an inevitable part of life. Anyone who says they’ve never lost anything probably had nothing to lose in the first place. So one day you may well lose your keys. And on another day you may well lose your wallet or purse.
However, by keeping one inside another, you’ll be losing them both on the same day which, as well as being a mighty pain in the posterior, also brings up a further problem. Take a look in your wallet. The odds are there will be something in there giving away your name and address, whether it be your driving licence or other ID. If someone finds or steals your wallet or purse and your keys are inside, then not only will they have the means to enter your house, but also information of the precise location of your house. As you can imagine, this would be far from ideal, and the main reason I’d always recommend you keep the keys and the wallet/purse away from each other.
Under a flowerpot
Just like a doormat, hiding a key under a flower pot is a well-trodden path. It has the convenience of being close to your front door and easily accessible, but again it’s hardly the toughest task for a burglar to find it. Burglars are not as daft as we might like to think they are, and you can bet your bottom dollar that, if they have the time, they’ll be checking under any nearby flower pots soon after checking under the doormat to try and find a key.
Of course, if you’re a veritable Percy Thrower and have hundreds of pots this will make their task harder to track down the one under which you’ve stashed your key, but I still wouldn’t like to take that chance. They might strike lucky, or have time to check under them all. And you don’t want the embarrassment of forgetting yourself where you hid them and having your neighbours chuckle at you as you upturn dozens of pots to try and get in your own house.
On top of the door
This is where they always seem to hide their keys in films, isn’t it? I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve seen characters gain access to buildings by searching around on top of the door frame, fumbling around with their hand until it rests on the key. And because this action is so ubiquitous in films, it also means everyone else knows about it. You could hope that you get a burglar of limited stature who can’t reach the top of the door, but failing this, it’s really best not to leave your key here either.
As we can see, leaving a key hidden outside is fraught with danger, and there is no real safe place to leave it. I couldn’t in good conscience recommend anywhere because, although I can think of less obvious places, the very act of writing them down here means they will be in the public domain and hey presto, anyone will be on to them. My one suggestion which isn’t really a hiding place (as it’s visible) is a small lock box by your front door. You’ll probably have seen these – secure mini-safes accessible only with a numerical combination. The key is kept inside but is only retrievable by someone that knows the combination. You do run the risk of someone else finding out the combination, but keep it to trusted people only, and this is really your best bet.
With the exception of the lock box, there really is no entirely safe place to leave your keys hidden outside of your house, and I would urge you to either lock them away safely or have them on your person at all times (with the caveat of not having them in your wallet or purse). That way, you can always be assured they’re out of the hands of anyone unsavoury.