Introduction: Use E-mail and a Dog Tag to Get Your Lost Keys (and Other Stuff) Back.

Picture of Use E-mail and a Dog Tag to Get Your Lost Keys (and Other Stuff) Back.

We all hate to lose things, but keys are a special problem. With stuff like luggage, you can put a little tag with contact information and hopefully the finder will give you a call. Keys are different. On the one hand, you want to have contact information on them so people know how to get them back to you. On the other hand, you don't want to have contact information on them because if a thief finds them, you will have given him directions to your house, your car, and maybe even your business, along with the means to get in. Nowadays, with reverse phone lookup, you might not even want to put your phone number on your keys.

Here is a simple way to increase the chances of getting your lost keys back without revealing who you are, where you live, or any other personal information. The basic idea is this: set up an email account with a user name that tells nothing about you (like, 86489@gmail.com, for instance). Then attach a dog tag to your keys that says, "If found, please email ". If a good citizen finds your keys, he can contact you, but if a thief finds them he won't know where you live. That way, he can't get in and make off with that bag of styrofoam peanuts you've been meaning to recycle.

Step 1: Set Up a "lost Keys" Email Account.

Picture of Set Up a "lost Keys" Email Account.

Set up an email account with a user name and email address that reveal nothing about you. This is your "lost keys" address. It is important that this address be something really anonymous, like 86489@gmail.com. Because you will be attaching this address to your keys, you don't want to put information a thief might use to find your house. An email address like J.Smith.at.1234.Main.Street.Springfield@takemystuff.com would be a bad idea, because if a thief finds your keys, he'll head straight for your house, let himself in, and steal things. For instance, he might help himself to those monogrammed towels Aunt Gladys gave you.

Step 2: Find a Dog Tag Vending and Engraving Machine

Picture of Find a Dog Tag Vending and Engraving Machine

Find a store that has a vending machine for making customized dog tags. These machines are more common than you might think, so they are pretty easy to find. Large pet stores are a good place to look. My local PetSmart has one. So does the Walmart down the street. The tags cost about US$5, including the engraving.

Step 3: Choose a Good Dog Tag.

Picture of Choose a Good Dog Tag.

Using the dog tag machine, choose a tag you won't mind having on your key chain. The machine I went to had heart-shaped tags, bones, and so on. It had an enticing "High School Musical" tag, but that was a little macho for my taste... I keep my keys in my pocket, so I went with a tag with nice, smooth edges.

Step 4: Engrave Your "lost Keys" Address on the Tag.

Picture of Engrave Your "lost Keys" Address on the Tag.

It is a good idea to include a helpful message like, "If found please email ". Do NOT be tempted to add your name, phone number, address or any other information that could direct a thief to your house, where he will steal things. You don't want anyone taking those carpet remnants you've been saving, do you?.

Step 5: Put the Engraved Dog Tag on Your Keychain.

Picture of Put the Engraved Dog Tag on Your Keychain.

Now, if a good citizen finds your keys he can get in touch with you, but if a thief finds them he can't go to your house and steal things. Like that barbed wire collection you've been working so hard on.

Step 6: Bonus Ideas

You don't need a separate "lost keys" address for each set of keys. You can give identical tags to your friends and family. This works even if they don't live near you. The people you share with don't even need to know about email. For instance, you could give a tag with your "lost keys" address to Aunt Gladys (as a thank you for those monogrammed towels). That way, if she loses her keys, you will get an email and can help get them back to her.

If you are the only person using your "lost keys" email address, you can just check for new mail when you lose your keys, but this can be inconvenient if several people (such as Aunt Gladys and your friends) are using the address on their keys, too. To make things easier for yourself, set up the "lost keys" address to forward all mail to your regular account. This will relieve you of needing to check the "lost keys" account. You might get an email before you even notice you lost your keys. (In GMail, you can set up forwarding by logging in, choosing "Settings", then "Forwarding and POP/IMAP", and setting the forwarding address to your main address.)

You can use the "lost keys" dog tags on stuff besides keys, like your briefcase or whatever.

Comments

19kevers (author)2015-12-20

so cool

moddy (author)2015-11-27

I am considering this, except for using a google number. An email address is equitable.

SparkySolar (author)2014-11-18

cool

MicioGatta (author)2014-08-18

Smart idea, I really like it :)

HIM Design (author)2012-01-23

Brilliant idea!

Regards

HIM DESiGN

3366carlos (author)2009-05-25

its a great idea; however, the founder can make copies of your keys and follow you home. once I lose my keys I will just replace all my locks. this is a great idea for everything else (cell ph, ipods, sandals, etc) but keys.

ZokiS (author)3366carlos2011-06-15

It's a great idea, too bad we don't have any dog tag vendor machines here.
I've lost my keys at least 3 times this year (and went to the boring process of having to make additional keys every time).
@carlo$ If you are scared that they might follow you, when you meet them to get your keys back you could try to act being with mental issues! :)

swartley3ga (author)2009-06-09

great idea! I am thinking about putting one on the keys and one on the diaper bag too....I get emails on my cell phone so I would probably get it soon enough to still be in the area.....great instructable

j626no (author)2009-05-20

i'd suggest having the "lost keys" email address forward the emails to your primary email address in case you lose something and you dont know you lost it (and therefore would have no reason to check your "lost keys" email) just a suggestion. I know gmail does forwarding very nicely and its extremely easy to have multiple accounts on one gmail account (perfect way to keep your anonymity)

joejoerowley (author)2009-02-10

Nice!

nelelr (author)2009-02-09

The references to potential losses and examples of possible uses were hillarious. LOL I'd be so pissed if I lost not only my keys but also my barbed wire scraps collection!!

Foaly7 (author)2009-02-06

If you use this, you can get a text message when you lose your keys, unless you lose your cellphone too.

mtdna (author)Foaly72009-02-06

I like it! A bonus with your idea is that you could be notified quickly, instead of later on when you finally check your mailbox, so you might still be near where you lost them. Like at your office, or whatever.

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