Where in the world is the right place in your home to hide a key? Hiding spare house keys under a flowerpot or doormat is up there with using the password “password”—so obvious, you might as well leave the doors unlocked and put up a sign that says “Burglars Welcome.”
And yet when you’ve locked yourself out, or come home from a trip and can’t remember where you put your key, or need to let someone else into your home when you’re not around, it is convenient to have a spare stashed nearby. So where do you hide that spare set of keys?
Well, here’s a roundup of some creative ways to hide a set that aren’t so obvious, plus some advice from security experts who’ve seen it all.
1. How to hide a spare key in a fake rock
One popular option these days is a fake rock with a secret compartment for keys. It sounds clever—as long as your rock actually blends in.
Robert D. Sollars of Today’s Training, a security firm in Oklahoma City, recommends making sure your rock is the same color, size, and type as the others around it. Better yet, Uncommon Goods’ key hider is an actual rock and not a “realistic-looking” plastic or resin object.
Still, Sollars doesn’t believe this is the best option. For one, even if it does blend in, the rock itself lacks a lock. And even if it did have one, a savvy thief could just take it home to open at his leisure.
2. Hide it in a lockbox
A safe lockbox, opened using a number pad or combination, is often used by Airbnb hosts and real estate agents for home showings. This is a fine idea, provided you make sure to memorize that combination and keep it written down in a few unobtrusive places.
3. How to hide a spare key in your car
According to Sarah Brown of SafeWise.com, an online safety resource, one smart place for a well-hidden extra key is inside your car, under a floor mat, or locked in a glove box.
“Even if someone breaks into your car, they only have a limited amount of time to rifle through your things and leave,” she says. “Smash-and-grab burglars aren’t searching under your floor mat for a key to your home; they are looking for valuables in plain sight.”
4. How to hide one under your siding
Another low-tech hiding place involves nothing more than string. Simply tie fishing wire or other nylon string to your key and wedge the key underneath your home’s siding through one of the seams. To retrieve, simply pull the string. Just make sure to remember exactly where that hiding place is—and try not to draw attention to yourself when you pull it out.
5. Get an automatic garage door opener
If you have a garage, another option is to rig up a keypad for an automatic garage door; just type in the code to open it. This is a particularly nice option if you have kids who let themselves in after school, because it doesn’t involve messing with a lockbox, says Brown. However, she cautions that you should give out that door code to as few people as possible.
6. Hide it at your neighbor’s house
A very safe place to hide your spare keys, Brown tells us, is at a trusted neighbor’s house—and not just because a burglar isn’t going to bother breaking into your neighbor’s house just to get your spare key.
“Being good friends with your neighbors is such an important part of home security, because the more invested they are in your lives, the more likely they are to help you if you ever encounter a dangerous situation,” says Brown. “Neighbors can be your greatest allies in times of trouble, including locking yourself out of your home.”
7. Or just ditch keys entirely
Why are you even still using physical keys—or worrying about hiding them? They’re so 20th century. (And 19th and all the previous centuries.)
As Spencer Coursen of Coursen Security Group tells us, “The problem with keys is that they work all the time. Keys are cheap, frequently lost, and easy to copy. If you’re concerned about leaving a spare key for someone to use, consider an electronic, key-coded lock.”
The main advantage of using a product like this is that you can reprogram it easily from anywhere, Coursen says. And it lets you respond quickly to last-minute events like firing a babysitter.
“No more running to the hardware store to make new keys. No more calling the locksmith to replace old locks.”
A keyless door lock “solves all problems,” says Robert Siciliano, a personal security expert and identity theft speaker. He says it’s worth the investment. You can find a punch-button lock for as little as $35 or go futuristic with a smart lock that lets you unlock your home using your phone. PC Magazine recently rated the top smart locks, which range in price from $100 to $230 and may also integrate with your other home devices.
Now you just have to make sure you don’t lose your phone.