With 20% of burglars not using force to gain entry to properties, leaving your spare keys under the flowerpot is considered one of the easiest ways to attract thieves.
According to the advice on BBC’s Crimewatch, leaving spare keys in such easy to find places is one of the ten things burglars will look for when casing a property. This is true for both opportunist and organised criminals, with the former taking advantage of this common hiding place to help them gain access quickly and easily.
Why is it dangerous?
With a large number of burglaries committed by opportunist criminals (36% according to the Association of British Insurers) insecure properties are a prime target. Thieves will target unoccupied properties at all times of year and that means that popping out for a few minutes without securing your property puts you at risk.
Common hiding places for spare keys, such as under flowerpots or door mats, are therefore the first targets for criminals on the look-out for an easy to access property.
Alongside this, it is not just opportunist criminals who use this method to gain entry, but organised criminals will also do the same. A report in The Daily Mail from earlier this month revealed a list of potential burglary sites found in the Greater Manchester area. The list detailed potential areas of weakness for gaining entry to properties, as well as highlighting where car keys and other valuables were left within homes.
The find gave police a unique insight into the thought process of burglars and, working in conjunction with an ex-criminal, the police issued warnings to homes over how they could secure their property from such threats.
Jason Flemming, the convicted burglar helping the police with their campaign, stated that it is “just crazy how many people don’t lock their homes properly when they go out”.
Leaving keys in well known hiding places is akin to leaving your front-door wide open, inviting criminals to help themselves to your personal possessions.
What should you do with your spare keys instead?
According to the Association of British Insurers, the best thing to do with your spare keys is to give them to a friend or neighbour whom you trust. This will ensure that you can gain access to your property if locked out without making your home an easy target for burglars.
Alongside this, homeowners should also ensure their homes are securely locked when they leave – shutting all windows and doors firmly. Keeping valuables out of plain sight will also help to stop opportunists trying their luck as they walk past and will help to ensure your property is kept as safe and secure as possible.
Always make sure that your home contents insurance covers the value of the items in your home and, if you are worried about leaving your spare keys with others, then consider investing in a policy which covers you for lost keys – allowing you to use a professional locksmith to regain entry to your home when locked out.