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7 unexpected places you can hide a spare key

Don't hide a spare key under the welcome mat. Hide it in one of these 7 unexpected places instead.

It's always a good idea to have a spare key for your home. While it poses an obvious security threat, it can also help you gain entry to your home should you misplace your primary key. Not to mention, it can save you a costly locksmith call.

A spare key is of no use if you can't get to it, however. And placing it somewhere too obvious -- like under a plant, doormat or false rock -- is almost like leaving your doors unlocked to begin with. As a general rule of thumb, you want to avoid storing a spare key too close to a main entry point of the house and all the common places people tend to hide spare keys.

It takes just a small amount of creativity and time to come up with a few good hiding places for spare keys around your home. Below are seven unusual places you can use for inspiration for hiding your spare key.

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Taylor Martin/CNET
  • The fake rock hide-a-key may be played out, but a fake sprinkler isn't quite as obvious. Bury it in the ground, leaving just the top exposed, and it looks like the real deal. But instead of watering your lawn, this is just a container that hold your keys. It's both affordable and inconspicuous ... if you actually have sprinklers. If you don't, this will look out of place.
  • It's not difficult to find a place inside vinyl siding to hide a key. You can attach a piece of hook and loop fastener to the key and attach another piece inside the lip of the bottom-most piece of siding in a location you can remember, like near a window or the air conditioner unit. Alternatively, you can attach a paper clip or short piece of string to the key and slide it in one of the seams, leaving a very small portion of the wire or string exposed -- enough to grab, but not enough to where it's too obvious.
  • Nailing a spare key to a tree probably sounds strange. But if you live in a house with a lot of tree coverage, most people wouldn't think to check the trees for a key. Pick a tree far from your house and drive a nail into it on the side facing away from your house and hang the key on the nail.
  • For extra security, apply any of the above methods and store your spare key at your neighbor's house -- that is, if you trust your neighbors. If someone were to find the key, they probably wouldn't think to consider that it goes to the house next door.
  • To take it one step further, try hiding a key down the street or even a few blocks away. As long as you're not trespassing, have permission, and can remember where you stashed the key, you don't have to worry about someone finding it and knowing where to use it.
  • Magnetic hide-a-keys are fairly common, meaning they're not exactly the most secure hiding spot for a spare key. However, if you're not at home, that means your spare key isn't either. It's just wise to secure the lid with tape so your key doesn't fly out while cruising down the highway.
  • A similar, yet more secure option is a hitch receiver lock box. Obviously, it only works if your car has a hitch receiver, but it's significantly more secure as it locks the contents behind a four-digit combination. You can also store a spare key for your car in a hitch safe without the fear of someone driving off with your vehicle.
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Chris Monroe/CNET

Wherever you decide to hide your spare, just try to avoid anything too obvious. And if you end up needing to use your spare often, avoid keeping it stashed in the same place. Change hiding spots any time you use it, and try replacing it only after sundown.

Also, consider using a separate lock for the one entry point to the home, such as a side door, and only storing a spare key for it, not the main entry point.

If you have a habit of losing your keys, you may want to consider upgrading to a deadbolt with a number pad or even a smart lock, which you can unlock with your smartphone. This would remove the need for a spare key altogether.