POORLY-hidden house keys are to blame for thousands of burglaries every year, new research reveals. Spare sets were either stolen
POORLY-hidden house keys are to blame for thousands of burglaries every year, new research reveals. Spare sets were either stolen at an earlier date or found in a hiding place near the premises, such as under a plant pot or doormat.
Official crime statistics show more than 6,000 burglaries in 2014 involved intruders using keys to access the property, as opposed to breaking and entering.
While police figures show a general decline in burglaries, the number where a key was used actually increased last year.
New research reveals the top hiding places favoured by homeowners — and the spots burglars are most likely to head to first. Are you guilty of using any of these?
5. Garden gnome (eight per cent)
This decorative figurine does more than just brighten up your garden — it’s the fifth most popular place to stash a spare set of keys.
Despite the security risks, almost a third of Britons (29 per cent) admit to leaving a ‘spare’ on their property, according to a survey of 2,000 adults.
4. Doormat (10 per cent)
Insurance firm LV= found the main reason for Britons leaving a key out is so friends and family can get into the house while they are away from home.
One in four (25 per cent) leave one hidden in case of emergency and a similar number (23 per cent) do so in case they ever lose their keys.
Those leaving a key out believe it is safe to do so because they only leave it unattended for short periods of time or think they have a “really good hiding place”, while others feel comfortable because they live in a “safe” neighbourhood.
3. Rock or stone (13 per cent)
While keys “hidden” under rocks and stones might be concealed from view, it is not always the case inside the home — with many people leaving them where a thief could easily access them through a letterbox or an open window.
Almost one in five people (18 per cent) say they leave their keys close to the front door in plain sight — such as in a bowl, on a hook or on a table — where burglars could easily hook them out and access the house without breaking in.
One in five (20 per cent) admit leaving their front or back door unlocked when they are out while millions have lost track of spare keys to their house.
2. Bin (13 per cent)
As hiding places go, this one’s rubbish!
Research found that, on average, each household has lost at least two keys that were cut for friends, family or people working in their home, equating to nearly 20 million spare keys currently unaccounted for.
LV=, which obtained the police figures under the Freedom of Information Act, is urging homeowners to tighten up their home security by keeping keys safe.
1. Plant pot (19 per cent)
If you place your spare set under the humble plant pot then congratulations: you are a burglar’s dream victim.
It’s the most popular hiding spot — and the most obvious.
While overall burglaries are declining, the number of thefts where intruders used a spare key is on the rise.
Selwyn Fernandes, managing director of LV= home insurance, said: “Burglars know that people tend to leave a spare key in a handful of places near their door and will often search these before attempting a break-in.
“Don’t make their job easier for them by leaving keys where they can easily be accessed. If you must leave a key outside, use a police approved key safe and only give the code to people you trust.”