Where should I keep my car keys?

Around 70% of cars made after 2001 are stolen with their own keys. Our CEO Bambi Gordon takes a look of car key burglaries and whether people should be hiding their keys.

The days of “hot-wiring” a car to steal it are largely gone. Modern car electronics mean thieves need the actual keys to steal a car. As a result, they are having to change their modus-operandi.

Thieves are now are stealing car keys during residential burglaries, so they take vehicles — a relatively new phenomenon referred to as “car key burglaries”.


Thieves now have to commit a burglary to steal a car

Research has shown, there are two types of car thieves: the opportunistic car thief and the targeted car thief.

Targeted car thieves are primarily out to steal vehicles. However, they have been forced to change the way the do it, in response to the environment. Now, they have to commit a burglary to obtain a car.

Opportunistic car thieves will take advantage of an unlocked door or window, keys visible from outside or left in obvious and easy-access places like on a kitchen bench or entry table.


Keeping keys out of out of sight can stop your car being stolen

Keeping your keys out of sight, so that they are not on display in your home, visible from outside through windows and doors or left in easy-to-access locations, can help stop your keys and, consequently your car, being stolen.

Some people are concerned hiding their keys will encourage a criminal to come further into your house or attack you.

This is very unlikely to be the case. Opportunistic offenders try to avoid detection and confrontation and there is no evidence to conclude that hiding the keys will change their behaviour around confrontations and no evidence has been found that supports the idea that hiding keys will encourage confrontation.


Confrontations during burglaries are low

The frequency of confrontations during conventional burglaries is low, and the frequency

of confrontations during “car key” burglaries is likely to be lower because of a limited search radius and less time spent in the home.

Contemporary academic research suggests that:

  • people hiding their keys at home is unlikely to have negative consequences;
  • there is little risk that hiding keys will do more harm than good;
  • that those who commit car key burglaries are car thieves and do not have a propensity for violence.


If you are confronted, comply with demands

This type of targeted car thief should be differentiated from the even smaller minority

who already possess a violent disposition and intent; these offenders commit car-jackingsor aggravated burglaries regardless of the car key location. In these circumstances,police encourage victims to comply with the demands to reduce the risk of harm.

Crime prevention and insurance agencies, national peak bodies and  other organisations recommend that you store your keys out of sight and always keep your home locked (even while at home).