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Key Under the Mat


Police are warning against hiding a house key for a friend or relative in order to let them gain access to your home.  Their data shows that opportunistic thieves are increasingly scouring the exterior of properties for keys hidden in common places.  These locations would include the old classics like under the door mat, a plant pot or even a garden gnome.  There were over 6000 burglaries last year, which did not involve a break in to get into the property.  This represents a sharp increase in this type of crime, where the overall number of thefts from homes is falling.

According to research from the insurance giant LV, 29% of householders admitted to leaving spare keys hidden somewhere outside their property.  The main reason for doing so was in order to facilitate access to friends or relatives, whilst the owner is away, but also, in case of an emergency, if the owner’s keys were ever lost.  Most homeowners feel that the practice is safe because it is only carried out for relatively short periods of time.

This increase in burglaries without break-in is also being fuelled by people leaving keys in plain sight within the home.  Almost one in five leave them close to the front door in a bowl, or such like, where they can be hooked out through a letterbox or open window.  Another trick of the thief is to steal the key at an earlier date, in a sort of smash and grab raid, and then burgle the house at a later date, when the homeowner fails to change the locks.

LV surveyed 2,000 people for this data and Selwyn Fernandes, managing director of LV home insurance had this to say on the subject: “While the number of burglaries is falling overall, it is alarming to see that the number of thefts where the burglar used a key is increasing.  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.” 
Source: thisismoney.co.uk (image courtesy of guardian.co.uk)