14 Replies Latest reply: Feb 21, 2015 10:19 AM by jonthecreek RSS

    Stolen House Keys

    carol Premier Contributor

      My usually reliable housekeeper called me today to report that her car had been broken into and all the keys to her housecleaning jobs were stolen.     Only one of the keys had an address attached -- mine, of course.   So, now I have to rekey the entire house, which will be a chore because we have seven locks for two units with two different keys and a master key that opens all the doors. 

       

      I have a locksmith coming first thing tomorrow morning; I have no idea what this is going to cost me, but I expect it to be several hundred dollars.  Should I send my housekeeper the bill and ask her to submit it to her car insurance company?  Have any of you had any luck with a claim like this?

       

      Obviously, one big takeaway is to NEVER NEVER NEVER allow anyone to write an address on any key, and I will need to have a conversation with her about this. 

        • Re: Stolen House Keys
          dianeb New Member

          Hi Carol,

          I dont know why you would need to replace locks rather than just having them rekeyed, but if you think it is going to cost you several hundred $$ you might want to think about upgrading to Schlage D link locks for the front doors.

          I installed this on my Florida home and it works like a charm. There are no keys to lose & I can control everything from my home 1,500 miles away. I give every guest party their own personal code that is activated for at 3:45 PM for a 4:00 PM check-in on date of arrival and deactivated at 10;15 AM on day of departure. I give my manager and cleaner their own codes and can give access codes and set up codes for tradespeople for a few ninutes or hours if I wish. I also use this system to control my thermostat and get email advices when door lock is used and when thermostat programs change.

            • Re: Stolen House Keys
              thaxterlane Senior Contributor

              Is there an ongoing fee associated with this lock system?

               

              I have a seasonal rental and have thought about installing such a system but I don't know if it makes sense for the 18 to 20 week season.

               

              I have an old fashioned punch button lock box as a back up to keyed locks.

               

              We don't have any security issues and I would need to weigh the expense against the convenience.

                • Re: Stolen House Keys
                  mike-dfv Community All-Star

                  I would check with both insurance companies, your and hers, but it's likely to cost less than the deductible amount anyway.

                   

                  Like Diane, I have a smart system which includes a door lock that uses codes instead of keys. Check out micasaverde.com for more information on the Vera system.

                   

                  Mike

              • Re: Stolen House Keys
                thaxterlane Senior Contributor

                Carol,

                 

                What an unhappy surprise,  and a real bother to straighten out!

                 

                Have your housekeeper call her insurance company to ask about her coverage. 

                 

                Is your housekeeper insured?  Beyond car insurance - is she  insured and bonded for the work she performs?

                 

                She needs to contact her insurance company and find out if she has coverage for the loss.  Payment, of course, will  depend on any deductibles. 

                 

                Call your insurance agent / company as well.  This has happened in the course of conducting your business.  I find my insurance agent very helpful. 

                 

                I'm suggesting the route I would follow to figure this out; I don't have any particular knowledge of insurance policies or what type of coverage would extend to this situation.  When I find myself in this type of situation, I pursue all possible avenues to resolution; sometimes it pays off. 

                 

                Good luck.

                • Re: Stolen House Keys
                  gabriel Active Contributor

                  Carol,

                   

                  Technically it is the responsibility of the person loosing the keys to bring the property to its original condition. In this case, to ensure the house is safe with replacement of locks or rekeying, whichever is cheaper. Not for the upgrade suggested.

                   

                  Reality dictates that if you bill your housekeeper for this huge expense and it is not covered by insurance, you may loose your money and your housekeeper. So inquiring about her level of insurance (and yours) is good, and coming to a mutual understanding between the two of you is best.

                   

                  Some suggestions:

                  1. Get the electronic programable lock for front door as suggested earlier.
                  2. Only give the keys to ONE FRONT DOOR, and have the rest of the doors opened from the inside with a different key that only you have.
                  3. I don't like the idea of punch button entries since you may have dishonest guests or housekeepers and they can reenter at a later time.
                    • Re: Stolen House Keys
                      thaxterlane Senior Contributor

                      Re not liking punch button boxes: 

                       

                      Some of us have properties that are in low crime, difficult to access areas. with little opportunity for abuse.  Punch button boxes are very suitable in these circumstances.

                       

                      It's not likely I will be targeted by previous renters (unless they arrange ferry passage or air passage to the locale).  My housecleaners have been working with me for many years and are trustworthy.  Contractors come and go using the punch button box or a key hidden under the shingles.   (I can imagine the horrified expressions among the electonric box and camera users . . . . )

                       

                      I resist what I term "overreacting" in managing my vacation property.  I have noticed a tendency among owners (and consumers in general) to buy products that far surpass their actual need.

                       

                      Each home and  owner will have his or her own needs, and entry systems should be decided on those needs.  I vote for keeping it simple - it works in my situation. 

                        • Re: Stolen House Keys
                          sage Community All-Star

                          Punch button boxes are very suitable in these circumstances.

                          Probably so.  However, the Master brand key box with numbers on dials (rather than punch buttons) can easily be opened in about 30 seconds. I was fairly surprised when I saw this video.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O2ChokSAqSo

                           

                            • Re: Stolen House Keys
                              thaxterlane Senior Contributor

                              "Probably so"

                               

                              Well, yes.  In the nearly twenty years I've had my vacation house, I have not had any problems with unauthorized entry to the house (you can't see me knocking on wood).

                               

                              It just hasn't been an issue.  Perhaps I've been lucky.  Perhaps some will think me an idiot. 

                               

                              It could be the location and nature of the community that make it a non-issue.  I really don't know.  But it's been ok for a long time.   I'm not prepared to install systems to address an issue that doesn't exist.  

                               

                              But, that's my situation.   If the situation changes, I'll reassess. 

                                • Re: Stolen House Keys
                                  jonthecreek Active Contributor

                                  Carol--what a total stress-mess for you!  When first viewed, your situation had no good answers --thankful you were able to address all the challenges.

                                   

                                  When I consider situations such as the one detailed today, I turn to two factors that help me keep my security situation in perspective for me

                                  (a) I do not have a whole house security system due to my location in in a large rural area where a burglar's response time to an audible alarm would probably be much more rapid than that of local law enforcement. 

                                  (b) I have an abundance of glass windows and doors....several that would allow an intruder with a tire iron immediate access the house.

                                   

                                  The problem of unauthorized tenants trying to reuse a lock code is certainly a possibility, but I worry more about traveling meth cookers and rambling vandals.....which takes me immediately back to points (a) and (b).

                                   

                                  So, I have decided that I will consider my insurance deductible as an ever present emergency business cost and the remaining insurance coverage as my ticket to not stress over the myriad of negative possibilities.  Pollyanna-ish---yeah, maybe,  but we deserve an occasional break from the Chicken-little syndrome. 

                          • Re: Stolen House Keys
                            carol Premier Contributor

                            Here's the outcome after a very frustrating day.  

                             

                            The keys to our house are "secure" in that they cannot be duplicated -- the blanks are held by only a few trusted dealers and are registered in our name, so only we can get duplicates.  This is because we don't want guests to make copies and then come back when our calendar says we are empty for a free vacation.   Further complicating things is that we have a separate apartment in the house, so we need keys for apt 1 and apt 2 and a master key to open everything.    The first locksmith we called was unable to rekey the existing locks -- he was not an authorized dealer.  He, of course offered to replace all the cylinders and keys and that would have been many hundreds of dollars.  

                             

                            We called US Lock directly -- the makers of our system -- and were able to get the name of another locksmith nearby.  He was able to come over this afternoon and rekey the locks correctly in under an hour.  Total cost was just a bit over $200.  

                             

                            I called my housekeeper and suggested she file with her insurance.  She did not want to do that -- some of you suggested it might not be more than the deductible, and you were right.  So, she offered to pay herself.  I felt bad about making her take it out of her pocket, so we agreed she'd do a free housecleanng for my other house (worth about $100) instead.   So, I think we both walk away quite relieved -- it could have been much worse, and we both share in the cost.      

                             

                            Yes, I did consider the electronic locks, but at this point it is not as cost effective as the key system.   That may be something we move to down the road. 

                             

                            What a nuisance!!! 

                             

                            Thanks for all your comments, I appreciated your help as I was panicking!!

                            • Re: Stolen House Keys
                              twobitrentals Community All-Star

                              Carol, I am so sorry for such a stressful day. At some point you may want to go to keyless, at least for the outside doors. You would have the master access, then you could give out other "sub" master codes for your cleaning folks, OR: just give them daily access codes each time they go in so nobody but YOU has total access all the time. I like this option the best only because if something should ever come up missing,  I can assure my guests that nobody has access during their time but them and me....and I live 1000 miles away from my VR. So, I consider it a security issue for the guest too, they can feel comfortable that when they are here they and their belongings are completely secure, except for if they leave the back patio door unlocked. The resortlock automatically locks when the door closes, so it can't be accidently left unlocked.

                               

                              All access codes are provided through a FREE website provided by resort lock and the lock runs strictly off batteries and not off of an internet connection. I like this option because if the internet goes down, or power goes out, they can still walk through the front door. I change the batteries twice a year and we have had our lock for 5 years. The lock has a matching algorithm to your website for millions of different date/times that match identically, that is why it doesn't need a connection between the two, if that makes sense.

                               

                              Glad that in the end everything worked out for you!