What I Can Tell About You by Looking at Your Keys

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By the author of The Prepper’s Guide to Post-Disaster Communications and The Cartoon Ham Exam Handbook: A Complete Ham Radio Technician License Study Guide

We’ve discussed what we can deduce about people from the way they use night vision, from what you hear/see on a scanner, and so on, but what about simply by looking at another person’s keys? It turns out you can really learn quite a lot.

Here are a few of the things that you can tell about a person simply by looking at their keyring. How do I know this? Past life as a locksmith. But you don’t have to be a locksmith to know these things. Any criminal worth his salt knows them, too.

So, here it goes.

Rusty keys?

If your key is rusty, it’s because it’s your hide-a-key. You somehow lost your “main” key to your house and have had to resort to your hidden key for a bit of time since. I now know that there’s a hidden key somewhere outside of your house, typically.

Under front door mats, nearby bricks/rocks, and hanging on a nail behind nearby wall art are some of the chief places I would look to find one of these.

Kwikset – KW1

That brass key to the right of the key fob is a KW1. It looks old enough for me to think that they do have an easy picker. The very top brass key is a post office key. The key fob isn’t worn ( you can still see the symbols), so they either haven’t had this car for a very long time, they don’t drive much, or they rarely lock their door.

If it’s an older-looking KW1 key (worn down teeth, lack of luster, etc.), I know that you likely have an older Kwikset lock on your front door. Outside of cheap Master padlocks, these are some of the easiest-to-pick locks on the planet. Most people who put these on their doors don’t know what they’re doing, and there’s a good chance I could simply get in with a credit card.

If it’s a shiny KW1, you may have a Kwikset SmartKey system set up. Nobody’s picking that, but it’s not exactly what I would call the best lock on the market.

(Just as a side note in regards to the pictures: All these are just stock photos. While I found plenty of people on Youtube showing off their keyrings, giving me all kinds of info, I wouldn’t want somebody flashing my security flaws to the world, and so I don’t want to do it to them. Stock photos, though? Particularly when you have zero clue who they would ever belong to? That should be A-OK.)

Schlage – SC1

I’ll have a more difficult time picking your lock compared to a KW1, but it’s still definitely doable. This is your house key.

Also, any locksmith worth his salt can look at your KW1 or SC1 and read the key cuts in seconds without a tool. If I memorize this, I can then go cut a key that matches your door. A bad guy could easily do the same and make a key for your house. This is why you should NEVER post a picture of ANY of your keys online. It is not difficult to copy a key by looking for somebody that is familiar with the cuts.

(Need to grab the keys and run? Check out our free QUICKSTART Guide to emergency evacuations to make sure that you have the information that you need already in your head.)

“Skeleton” keys

looking at your keys

Technically, these are “bit” or “barrel” keys. You live in an old house, or your elderly mother does. I can probably guess the part of town that you live in. Nobody uses these for their exterior doors anymore, but you do have rooms inside of your house that you use these for.

Can opener

You have a bug-out bag in your car. Trust me. I’ve asked people that I’ve found with one of these on their keyring. I was right. Nobody other than preppers carries these on their keyrings.

Bison tubes

 This is where people typically store their nitroglycerin. Odds are you have a heart condition. People can store other medication in here, too, of course, but most of the time, I’ve found that nitro is what’s inside.

Gun safe key

These are often pretty recognizable due to a large black head. There’s no mistaking these for a car key – maybe a motorcycle key if you’re new to the game. People have gun safes to put their guns in there. Usually, I can guess your political persuasions by seeing this.

Seeing a gun safe key on somebody’s key ring was a pretty good indicator to me of what subjects I could talk about with them. If I was a criminal, it would tell me that you have something of value that I’d like to steal.

Car key

It’s kinda hard to tell from this angle, but that vehicle key to the far left with the black head has a good chance of belonging to an early 2000s Dodge pickup truck. The leather means this is a dude. Personally, I think these belong to an old man. The bit keys and the colored key head things are what make me think this.

I can virtually always tell the make and model of your vehicle from the car key. Shoot, most car keys even have the make listed on the head. Simple, no frill keys tell me that your car or truck is older. There are a number of things I can guess about you by seeing you have an older car.

Remotes to get into a car don’t tell me a ton. Certain cars require certain remotes, but you typically can’t get a definitive guess simply by looking at a car remote. Usually, the remote is literally right beside the car key, though, so it’s not a huge issue. Tape on the remote or one that’s beat to pieces tells me you’re scrapping for money.

A key fob is for push-to-start cars. You have a newer model vehicle. I can make a number of guesses about you from this information.

An alarm that tells you where your keys are

You’re human.

Motorcycle key

Odds are you’re a dude. If it’s a Harley, you’re 50+ years old. Young guys ride real bikes (hee hee). If it’s an Asian brand/crotch rocket, you’re young.

Security keys

There are some key blanks out there that only fancy businesses get. If I see one of these on your keyring, all I know is that you work at a very well-off business, and odds are you’re a supervisor or in some other type of “I open the doors” kind of position.

If I see a number of these types of keys on your keyring, I know that you’re higher up in management wherever you work (or you’re the janitor). You can normally tell by how the person dresses, carries themselves, and the language they use, which of the two they are.

Post office box keys

You have a post office box (duh). If I see this while you’re at the local gym, I can probably guess which post office (the closest one nearby) is that you have rented a box at.

Safety deposit box keys

Who has safety deposit boxes? Rich people. People with stuff that’s valuable that they want to keep someplace safe. I can make a couple of estimates here that you have a nice job (or your spouse does), you have nice things in your house, and you probably live in a good neighborhood.


People tell soooo much information from these. They’re like bumper stickers on your car. I may be able to figure out what your name is, prior military service, see a picture of your family, learn about your occupation/hobbies, or where your kids go to school simply by looking at the keychains you have on your keyring.

They work at a coffee shop (or own one), they are handy with tools (the green level), they’re a guy (the knife/level), they live in an older house (the barrel key). The yellow and the blue are probably the house key and the business key. I can’t tell much about them, though.

Sometimes I can tell where you like to vacation as well, for instance, if you have a souvenir keychain there. Is it a beach location? Most people go to the beach in the summertime. Odds are you do too. I have a good chance of guessing that at some point between May to September, you won’t be at your home for about a week.

Is that an oxygen tank key? You’re a nurse.

Bottle opener? You probably spend a lot of time fishing.

If I see the color pink or purple or any cursive writing on any of your keychains, you’re a girl.

Kubaton or cat-punchy-thing? You’re a girl.

Pepper spray? You’re a girl.

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Putting it all together.

Why does this matter? Because it’s important for security reasons.

One key gives me a bit of information. But a whole key ring? I can get quite a bit of info about you, your habits, who you are, and all that from this. Just food for thought. Don’t post images of your keys online. See if you can do a bit of guessing with the keys of your friends at work this week. It’s a fun way to pass the time and see how much you’re guessing correctly. At the very least, it’s a fun way to meet new people. “Oh, do you like going to Miami?” “How did you know?” (Or maybe they’ll just think you’re a creepy stalker.)

What do you think about all this? Are there other things you can learn about people from their keys? Have you had any success doing this? What information do you think your keys are giving away?

Let us know what you’re thinking in the comment section.

About Aden

Aden Tate is a regular contributor to TheOrganicPrepper.com and TheFrugalite.com. Aden runs a micro-farm where he raises dairy goats, a pig, honeybees, meat chickens, laying chickens, tomatoes, mushrooms, and greens. Aden has four published books, What School Should Have Taught You, The Faithful Prepper An Arm and a Leg, The Prepper’s Guide to Post-Disaster Communications, and Zombie Choices. You can find his podcast The Last American on Preppers’ Broadcasting Network.

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Aden Tate

Leave a Reply

  • Who knew?! Thanks Aden. Maybe I can show you my pile of ‘what are THESE for?’ keys & you can solve our little mystery, I’ve been trying to find out for years! 😉

  • Really interesting article! Thank you! However, I’m not sure I agree with your coffee shop fob as an example of working at a coffee shop (or owning one). Couldn’t it simply be a souvenir from a shop they go to or visited on a vacation? Either way, this was very interesting!

  • On the other hand, you might given just enough information about keys to help someone start a life of crime. But man oh man are they going to be in for some surprises!!!

  • Keys aren’t the only way to gain information about someone either. Bumper stickers are another way. One can learn political persuasion, where the kids go to school, and so much more from bumper stickers. Printed tees and hoodies also tell a great deal. It’s become so important to be careful that I no longer wear clothing containing political statements outside of my house. And don’t get me started on your social media photos! How many people are aware that profile and page banner pictures are public? Anyone can see them, and Facebook for one just loves to mess with security settings. Those silly “elf name” puzzles and the like also give huge amounts of information. Who produces those quizzes, and what happens to the data? Cautious minds avoid those things like the plague.

  • Socialist media crushed any kind of privacy.. Of course, many are willing to expose their whole lives globally… Don’t need to know about keys.. That’s small potatoes… Just open up the world wide “web”…

    • People with hobbies and responsibilities don’t have time for social media, they do emails or texting to their contacts and keep it brief. Some I know have phones all 24/7 and check F’book, etc at 2am and every few hrs day and night. Most using facebook for personal reasons usually spread gossip among friends or family.

    • An old boyfriend told me a story of someone he knew whose apartment was burglarized. He went and got a new lock, much stronger. That was broken as well. Back he went to the lock store, bought the biggest fanciest most expensive lock with the best reputation, and a big chain to chain it to. When he left his house, that thing was on its chain, ostentatiously UNlocked. His home was never broken into again.

  • The bison tube (never heard that expression before) is also a great place for extra hearing aid batteries. Also have a MecArmy rechargeable light, provides white, red or UV light, had it for ~8 years, beat up, and still works fine and only a bit over one ounce in weight.

  • Everything you do or have is a repersentation of who you are and what you believe and how you live. We are all tracable. Most people do not realize how much info they give away about themselves their lifestyle, politics etc., outside of social media.
    On the other hand beware trying to read people based upon this stuff, you might be surprised how many people also go out of their way to lead a false trail or get you to make false conclusions about them.

  • I think mine might stump you. But very informative. Tells me i am not normal. But then i knew that. Guess I should stop attaching the gifts friends buy when they vacation where I can’t afford to.

  • LOL, OK Aden, I’ll bite. Besides the car key and fob, I only keep a house key and my tool box key on my ring. Only the car key is original. The others are copies without a brand name on them (no matter brand of lock, one should use a nameless copy. It’s a lot harder to read except to professional locksmiths like yourself)
    I’ve carried a 4″ Williams adjustable wrench on my keys for 45 years.
    What does that say about me?

    I know why I’ve carried it, I just want to see your take on why?

    KwikSets are junk. Shlage’s are a step away from junk. You are right, and typically people buy the cheapest locks/knobs when they replace them. I see it all the time in hardware sections. People look at the more expensive locks, and inevitably reach for the cheap sets.
    Some really good information in your article, I even learned a couple of things I wasn’t aware of.
    Keys and Keychains, are a billboard of information about you and many aren’t aware of that. So keys/keychains need “Grey Man/Women’s too if we want to stay unobtrusive.
    Thanks for pointing that out.

  • The fact that I have more keychains than keys on mine is probably a dead giveaway that I’m a girl. Or, that I lose my keys easily. It’s easier to find a big wand of jangly keychains in your purse than the couple of keys I actually use. I would never carry gun safe keys on my car keys. I put those in the safest place in the world–even I can’t find them, lol. I also have lots of bumper stickers floating around my house but not a single one on my car. I just can’t stomach putting stickers on paint. Interesting article, though. It’s always bizarre to me that people put that much thought into stealing/hurting another person. It would never occur to me to learn those skills.

    • You will never lose your keys if you keep them in your pant’s pocket instead. When you get home and change your clothes, take them out right away and put them in one spot and one spot only. I keep my car key and fob separate from my few other keys so as not to weigh the car key down in the ignition (there was an ignition recall years ago concerning this issue). I have never, ever lost my keys by following these habits.

      People who put their keys in their purses risk losing them when they change their purse but don’t fully empty the previous purse. People who don’t always put important things back in a designated spot tend to lose those things. I had a former friend who was always losing her keys or wallet due to sloppiness and carelessness. It became very aggravating to wait on her to find them by looking all over the place in her home. Finally, if someone mugs you and steals your purse, not only do you lose your wallet, you now lose your very important keys for getting home and into your home.

  • We live in a hurricane/tornado area near the gulf of Mexico, have a safety deposit box for important papers, car titles, I-bonds, wills, etc. We do not store money, coins, jewelry in box. We are average middle class retirees.

  • Not surprised. Never thought of it that way, wheely. However, when people need my keys I only give them THAT key and nuth’n else.

  • I keep a short piece cut from the black belt a martial artist might wear, on my key ring. These are sold for this purpose. And why? To get would-be attackers to leave me alone! I don’t really need that. The way a martial artist walks and carries him/herself is alert enough to wannabe bullies.

    I no longer show my key ring in public; the only key I ever have out is my car key, and you don’t need to look at that, because I’ll be walking to or from my car, or standing next to it. 🙂

  • I have multiple rings of keys. A mix of cheap and great padlocks, multiple buildings and sheds and vehicles and a PO Box. I usually carry just 2 or 3 keys at any one time. I have them on climbing clips rather than key rings. I like my hands free so I clip them on a belt loop or clipped to hang in a pocket. I carry a card case in a front pocket instead of a wallet or purse or whatever.
    Perfect? Nope. Just somewhat a minimalist. Also hate bumper stickers so have none. Any shirt with political or religious sayings is usually only worn at home. I do wear a cross daily and rarely earrings.
    I say Merry Christmas and Happy Easter, frequently in season, and even God bless occasionally.
    I have no safe deposit or safe keys.
    There is no hidden key. A family member and a friend each have a door and a shed key to access my critters and their food. I’ve cared for a sick family member and done some traveling. Nice to have someone feeding my critters and letting my dogs out in the morning and back inside at night.

  • I doubt you are a locksmith as no competent locksmith would use the term “safety deposit” key. It’s a SAFE DEPOSIT key.

    You could look at my car key and not guess the make of the car as it’s an Xhorse Remote Flip key made on the style of a modern Audi key, but it’s really a Japanese car.

    Shiney Kwikset keys MAY be a smart lock, but just as easily could be a standard 5 pin Kwikset lockset, or could be a recent copy of a Defiant lock key made by a quality lock shop that uses OEM Kwikset key blanks for all of the locks that use the KW1 keyway.

    I could go on, but why beat a dead horse?

    • Actually – “safety deposit” is a regional term, and I’ve heard it my entire life. Why on earth would a phrase like that make you question whether or not someone worked as a locksmith?

        • Content like this can work either way. It can help us to identify things about other people, which is often helpful in predicting their behavior. At the same time, if we’re aware of it, it can help us to become aware of what information we’re giving away to others.

      • Professionals use specific terminology. The ignorant masses (read as uneducated public) misuse terms for generations. No it is not a regional term anymore than calling a realtor a “realAtor”. In the English language words can be misused to a point where it becomes common usage. That may work for most, but terminology within a specific profession, trade, or industry tends to be uniform. Safe deposit or safety deposit will convey the same meaning to most people, but tradesmen will use safe deposit correctly.

        The problem with this article is the author knows a little about locksmithing and views things in black and white. Reality is shades of gray and the conclusions he reaches can be interpreted differently by someone with 40+ years of hands on experience in this trade.

        Don’t get over concerned with semantics but examine the rest of my post and you will get the big picture.

  • They won’t get much from me except the kind of car I drive. I have a Mercedes CLK500 AMG. There is no ‘key.’ and that’s ALL I have. No other keys on the fob. And as far as throwing them off, I would guarantee you can’t tell ANYTHING from just that (though you might get lucky with a guess or two.) LOL

    • Yeah you need to find out what a flipper zero is… you fancy locking house and car are 5 seconds away from being removed by tech thieves even behind electronic locking garage .

      Most of those fancy biometric and punch boards have cheap and easy barrel pin lock or circular drum locks with set easy picks.
      $10,000 item by passed with a key or simple pick you can make from a car wiper blade.

  • Well, I’m not going to be the one to tell my husband he can’t have the keychain that our 5 year old made him for his birthday on his keys….. we also drive piece of shit vehicles (go on and take them, if you know the trick to get them started ????), carry house keys separately and don’t have social media at all.

  • Interesting.
    But unless I hand them to someone, no one is going to get a close enough look at my keys to be able to ID which is what.

  • Now, I’m curious. My key ring. No car keys, those are all fobs that are in my pocket. “Security” keys, a couple of Abloy Protec and Protec2 laser cut keys as well as Medeco, sorry, not for business, but personal. A set of keys from work, obviously controlled. Schlage house key, boring. A couple of old Kwikset keys and a few random ones from things like book shelves and server cabinets at work.

    Wonder what you’d deduce from mine?

    Oh, the keychain? A worn piece of paracord, with purple, but I am male.

  • You didn’t mention a handcuff key. Not the small tourist one, but the black one that looks like a baton.

  • “A key fob is for push-to-start cars. You have a newer model vehicle.” LOL! I actually thought it meant “push the car to start.” Shows you my age, and how much I’m scraping by. 🙂

  • Really cool article, definitely made me think about everyday opsec. But just wondering, IS there a way (besides removing frilly keychains or extras) to make your keys tell less info about you? Or do you just have to try and keep them from being easily visible?

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