Hiding a key by the front door for family members or in case you get locked out is a common practice. According to a July 2014 study, one in five homeowners admitted to doing it regularly.

However, this is a dangerous game of hide-and-seek that burglars know all too well. It’s no secret that front door mats, flowerpots, mailboxes, statues and fake rocks all are familiar places to conceal keys.

Need proof? See below for two burglary examples from just this past summer:

With burglars knowing where to look for keys, homeowners need to get smarter.

Alternate Options to a Hidden Key

Most police departments will recommend against hiding your keys—no matter how creative you think you are. Instead, consider the following:

  • Leave the key with a trusted neighbor, friend or family member. This way, if you are locked out of your home, you have a spare key readily available. Just be sure to keep track of how many keys are circulating and who has access to them. A few keys among only your most highly trusted circle is ideal.
  • Invest in access control solutions. Some home security systems allow for remote access to your locks—letting you lock and unlock them via the Internet. This is a great alternative to hiding a key, as you don’t need to be physically present to let someone into your home (e.g. a child, friend, babysitter, etc.). If used properly, smart locks are a safe, convenient option; learn more here.

Hide Keys at Your Own Risk

Although risky (and not recommended), should you still need to hide a key for whatever reason, follow the below best practices:

  • Do not hide the key close to the front or back door.
  • Change the hiding spot frequently.
  • Avoid common hiding places, such as doormats, grills, flowerpots and mailboxes. Get creative!
  • Be careful of who knows about the key. (It’s common for neighbors and friends to learn of the location simply by observing.)

Image Source: Linus Bohman via Flickr