Don’t leave your key under the gnome: Burglaries without break-ins on the rise as one in four leave keys ‘hidden’ near front door

Don’t leave your key under the gnome: Burglaries without break-ins on the rise as one in four leave keys ‘hidden’ near front door

There has been a sharp rise in the number of burglaries in which house keys are used to enter, according to official police data.

Last year, more than 6,000 burglaries did not involve a break-in to gain access to the property, as an increasing number of opportunistic thieves scour properties for keys ‘hidden’ in common spots.

According to LV= research, 29 per cent of householders admit they leave spare keys hidden somewhere outside their property, with favourite hiding spots including beneath doormats, plant pots or even garden gnomes.

Gnome Joke







Gnome joke: According to LV= research, 8% of people have no problem leaving house keys under a chosen garden gnome the police data, obtained through a freedom of information request by LV= home insurance, showed that despite the surge in burglaries this way, there has been a general decline in home theft numbers in general. 

The main reason given for the practice – widespread despite the security risk – is so friends and family can get into the house while the homeowner is away from home, the poll found.


Key under mat







Common spot: Many homeowners will leave a key under the mat for friends or family to enter.

One in four leave a key hidden in case of emergency and a similar number do so in case they ever lose them.

Those leaving it out believe it’s safe because they only leave it unattended for short periods or believe they have a discreet hiding place.

Others believe it’s okay to leave one out because they live in a safe neighbourhood.

Selwyn Fernandes, managing director of LV= home insurance, said: ‘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.’

While ‘hidden’ keys may be concealed from view, this is not always the case inside the home.

The survey found many people leave them where a thief could easily access them through a letterbox or an open window.

Almost one in five leave them close to the front door in plain sight, such as inside a bowl or on a table, where burglars could easily hook them out and access the house without breaking in.

Sometimes, keys are stolen at an earlier date, such as part of a snatch and grab – and homeowners fail to change the locks.

Elsewhere, the research found a fifth admit leaving their front or back door unlocked when they’re out and millions of people have lost track of spare keys to their home. LV= surveyed more than 2,000 people.


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