It's "common knowledge" that you should change keys on move-in. Usually this is suggested to avoid burglary (or for Googlers and more casual conversation, "robbery"). But has anyone actually used an old key to break in somewhere? You'd think with this being such a common fear that there would be at least one documented case.
Assuming other people lived in this space before you, it’s worth changing the locks on all of the exterior doors before you move your stuff in.
— New York Times, Feb. 25, 2020
The previous homeowner’s friends and family could have copies of your home’s keys, so call a locksmith and have all the outside door locks changed. Also, change the garage door opener codes.
— 10 Tips for Settling Into Your New Home
When you move into a new home, you should change the locks on your house. You have no idea how many copies of the house keys are floating around out there from the previous homeowners, so changing the locks will keep your new house more secure. Tom recommends changing the locks whenever a new home is purchased.
— Changing Locks on a New Home
Some fears seem particularly unfounded:
- The old owner/tenant will come back and steal stuff. There are people who would steal when they have the key, but not when they could pick a lock? And with them being a key suspect? In the case of tenants, plenty of tenants have access to mailrooms with possibly lower-risk theft available.
- Contractors will steal stuff. Not only would this be unlikely to work, contractors are around high-value items all the time. You'd think they'd have a more perfect crime, like stealing from an unattended property they are contracted on, or inflating quotes. If caught, they risk jail time and little hope of doing more contracting after going through the legal system.
[Sexual] assault fears are more logical, because you can't assault someone in an empty mailroom or on a vacant property. That is, you need a "someone" to assault someone.
The closest I could find is a master key for an apartment complex, but that's not quite the same.
It's cheap enough to rekey or change locks that it's not a huge concern, but I'm wondering if there's any truth to this wisdom.
For partial credit, do home insurance companies have anything to say about changing locks? The closest I could find is requiring evidence of forced entry for a burglary claim. If rekeying reduced burglary, you'd think insurance companies would offer a discount for doing it.
Sure, unlocking a door won't be forced entry, but that doesn't mean it actually happens with old keys. Especially in the face of what one possibly fear-mongering ABC piece calls easily accessible bump-keys.