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Homeowners invite burglars in by leaving key under mat

HOMEOWNERS are practically "inviting" burglars into their houses by hiding keys in obvious places, it has been claimed.

People are still leaving keys under the mat or in the garden shed despite a spike in break-ins, according to AA Ireland.

Last week alone, gardai arrested several burglars, known as 'fishermen' for their practice of using a rod through the letterbox to fish for car keys left just inside the hall door.



Conor Faughnan, director of Policy in the AA, said: "It's really quite dangerous leaving your house key where it can be found by the wrong person.

"There are some very obvious places like under the plant pot. It might have been okay in Ireland years ago, when everyone knew their neighbours, but burglary figures have risen in the last few years and you can't be too careful."

A recent AA Home Insurance poll of more than 9,200 householders found that many people still leave their spare house key where burglars can find it.

Common places are under the mat or plant pot, in the porch or letterbox or on the door frame. More than half of those surveyed (52pc) said they left their spare key in a garage or garden shed.

Mr Faughnan said some people in the study had "quite inventive suggestions". Two said they hid their key under the gravel of their driveway, while others put the key under a garden shrub or in the weedkiller.

Some put it in the dogs' kennel, one attached it to a German Shepherd's collar, while another hid the key under children's toys scattered in the garden.

"While these ideas are very good, they aren't foolproof. I have a colleague whose German Shepherd was drugged during a burglary.

"You never know who might see you dig out that key from the plant pot or retrieve it from the garage, only to remember where it is when everyone is out of the house," added Mr Faughnan. "It would be far safer to leave a spare key with a trusted friend, relative or neighbour."

His warning comes as the Central Statistics Office reports a 9pc increase in burglaries and related offences between 2010 and 2012.

AA Home Insurance advises people to develop a routine of locking doors and windows before leaving the house or going to bed, and making sure the house alarm is switched on.



"Fit a deadbolt lock to your home's main exterior doors. It should be pick-resistant, making it impossible for any would-be burglars and, when no one is home, it's worth considering leaving a light or radio on.

"If you go on holiday, remember to cancel your regular deliveries, such as milk and newspapers, and ask a neighbour or friend to collect any post," Mr Faughnan said.