It’s pouring rain, and that’s when you realize there’s a problem. You’re home, but your keys are missing. Cursing a blue streak might make you feel better, but it won’t get you inside. This is the worst time to realize you never hid a spare. Locksmiths are expensive, and so are broken windows. For those of us who live in apartment buildings, it can be quite a bit tougher to find a good stash spot. That doesn’t mean they don’t exist, you just have to look harder, and so do potential thieves.
Buying Vs. Making Your Hide-A-Key
There are plenty of people out there who have exceptional building skills. Most of them already know how they’d answer this question. For the rest of us, it’s worth considering whether or not to put our time into making a custom hiding place for our spare key.
The first question you need to ask is whether or not it’s necessary. If you can pick up an inexpensive but highly functional self-adhesive key hiding pocket (click the orange link for the latest pricing) hat perfectly suits your needs, it may be more expensive and time-consuming to DIY. There’s nothing wrong with being crafty if you want to, but it may not save any time or money.
You can find plenty of plans for how to make things with hidden compartments and even a stunning recipe for a fake poo key safe that uses only an old pill bottle, some spray foam and a bit of paint. Of course, your apartment manager likely has groundskeepers who will have to go ‘handle it’ if you do. That will leave you without a way to get inside.
What Does DIY Cost
Making your keyholder isn’t something we can quote you an easy price for. Not only do materials vary in cost from one area of the country to the next, but it also depends a great deal on what sort of hidden container you intend to make. A birdhouse with a secret trapdoor is going to cost a lot more than slipping the key inside the zipper of your washable patio furniture cushion.
Sometimes you don’t need to spend anything to stash your key. Digging a hole in the dirt somewhere you’ll remember is free. However, many of the free solutions also come with added risk. For example, nailing a key to a tree somewhere out of sight is fine, but a kid or curious crow might decide to take it with them if they see the shiny metal one afternoon. Hiding a key successfully is harder than it sounds.
Overall, we find it easier to go with prefabricated options. After all, a cleverly concealed key in a thermometer (for the latest pricing click the orange link) isn’t something many people would look twice at. Outdoor thermometers are ordinary and not very valuable. More importantly, they don’t attract much attention, and thieves are not very likely to want a generic one.
Cost of Making a Spare Key
Most of us have made spare keys before, but there’s a first time for everything. If you’re wondering if you can DIY a key, the answer is pretty much no. It takes specialized equipment to cut a key. That’s why the locksmiths make such good money. Well, that and the fact you can wake them up at three a.m. with a drunken emergency phonecall and make them drive across town.
The good news is that the equipment isn’t that special. Most home improvement stores and even some places like Walmart have ey cutting stations. As long as someone on staff knows how to use the equipment, it’s quick and easy to get new keys made.
The process takes a few seconds, or at most a couple of minutes for a basic key. You can usually upgrade to a fancy colored or patterned key for a little more. Additionally, you can pick up rubber key grips and all sorts of accessories. However, for a base model duplicate, you can expect to spend no more than a couple of dollars.
Clever & Cost Efficient
There are lots of places to keep spare keys that cost you nothing at all once you have the key itself. Because they’re so small, it’s pretty easy to stash one. We’ve compiled a quick list of useful places to put a key for free.
- Door Knocker- If you have one of those cute little mini door knockers that often come with the peephole inside, there’s a gap behind it where a key will fit.
- Trade With a Neighbor- Putting a key to your house under your welcome mat is foolish, but if you trade with a nearby neighbor and put each other’s keys under your mat no thief will ever guess which apartment it goes to.
- Your Wallet- Putting your spare key in your wallet is a great way to keep it safe unless your keychain is already attached to your wallet. The downside is that if you lose your wallet, you’ve left your ID with your address on it and a key to get inside.
- On Your Car- Stashing a spare house key on your car with a magnetic key holder is clever (click the orange link for the latest pricing). Thieves can’t take your car with your house key, so even if they find it, it does them no good. If you want to be a bit sneakier, you could pick up a sneaky behind the license plate key hider(Click the orange link to get more info.).
- Friends- If you can trust your friends, and we hope you can ask one of them to hold it for you.
- Family- Typically, if you live in the same area, your parents are happy to keep a spare key to your home. This doesn’t work so well if you’re related to nosy and entitled people who would use it to go inside your home. Also, if you want their help, you have to be willing to pick up the phone and call.
- Coworkers or Your Desk at Work- If your place of employment is open 24/7, you can leave a key where you work. It means you have to go back to get it. A coworker might be willing to help you out instead, but if you call them drunk at 3 am too often it’s not going to work out well for either of you.
- Apartment Manager- Technically you don’t need to leave a spare if there’s onsite management. An apartment complex manager should have the spares in their office.
Wherever you stow your spare key, make sure it’s out of sight for retrieval. Putting your housekey where everyone can see you get it is a great way to get your house broken into. The worst part is that you won’t even know it happened until you’re in the door. Plus it doesn’t look very suspicious when someone walks up, grabs a spare key and lets themselves inside. Your neighbors are more likely to call the police if a thief actually has to break in.
First Places Thieves Look For Spare Keys
Professional thieves know their job as well as you know yours. They have learned the ins and outs and hacks that make the job go smoothly. For example, did you know most thieves will knock first? It’s an easy way to see if you have a dog. Moreover, while it’s not a guarantee, it does indeed make it less likely that you’re home if you don’t answer.
You will find a thousand tipsters online suggesting that you should tape a key inside your mailbox. Sure, your postal worker isn’t too likely to care. Unfortunately, this trick is as common as putting it under the doormat. Every thief for a thousand miles will think to run their hand around the inside and even the outside in the hope of getting lucky.
The one exception to this rule would require a specially built mailbox. If you went to the trouble of having a custom mailbox with a skinny false bottom or back incorporated into the design, you might fool a few criminals. The downside is that mailboxes are easy to reach and see. Anytime you need that key, it will be pretty obvious where you got it from. Best to avoid the whole issue.
Where Oh Where
If you look around and think you’ve found the perfect easy-access spot, a thief has seen it too. Your rain gutter, porch lights, door frame, and garden beds will be searched. Potted plants are not a sneaky hiding place unless you have a large greenhouse for container growing.
The most obvious choices, like fake rocks, are obvious for a reason. The same can be said for anywhere magnetic. Any thief who doesn’t try to walk up and heedlessly smash your window with a brick is going to know where to look for a magnetic box.
Hiding keys is a tricky business. You can always use the plastic siding if you’re lucky enough to have a building that has that feature. In general though, you need to be incredibly deft and discard the first five or ten ideas you have. If you read it online, thieves have read it too. Consider wearing your spare key as a necklace or anklet, and whatever you do, don’t put your address on it.