Stress could be the key

COULD IT get any worse? You arrive at your front door after the weekly grocery trip trying to juggle the bags while you fumble in your pocket for your keys – but they are not there.

COULD IT get any worse? You arrive at your front door after the weekly grocery trip trying to juggle the bags while you fumble in your pocket for your keys – but they are not there.

Reluctantly you put the bags down and as the contents spill all over the floor you check all your other pockets, handbags purses or anywhere else you may have absent-mindedly put them.

You had them earlier, you distinctly remember picking them up before leaving the house, but they are not there now.

Panic rushes through your brain, have I just dropped them? Has someone stolen them? Did I pick them up in the first place?

Last year more than five million people went through a similar scenario according to a study for the Sentinel card protection service, and women were the worst offenders.

The research showed 5,626,356 lost their keys, with one in 10 people losing them up to three times.

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One in every 50 women claimed they lost keys five times or more, although no men admitted losing them more than three times.

The research also found many people underestimated the cost of replacing sets of keys.

More worryingly it revealed that more than half of us keep our keys with some form of identification or personal information, again women were worse than men.

Janis Goodhall, a clerk at Ipswich police station, was waiting for 17 sets of keys to be reclaimed by their owners.

She said: "When they come in we bag them up with a label saying when they were found but they are kept in a tray separate from all the other lost property

"We can only really identify them if they have a keyring on them, otherwise we let people look through the collection to see if they can find theirs."

The keys are kept at the station for just over a month and if nobody claims them then they are destroyed.

So why are we so clumsy with our keys?

Psychologist Corinne Sweet suggested losing keys was indicative of how stressed people were.

She said: "It is a distressing experience for most people who are juggling impossibly busy home, work and family lives today.

"However, the loss of keys also reveals how stressed people really are deep-down, as it is a typical psychological 'parapraxis', or Freudian slip.

"Thus, the more hectic your 24/7 daily life, the more likely you will become absent-minded because of psychological overload – which ends up with you losing your keys."

Matt Simester, Sentinel's development director, said: "It is also troubling that such a high proportion of people, particularly women, are keeping their keys with personal information.

"Not only does this put you and your property at risk, it also leaves people vulnerable to identity theft, one of the fastest growing crimes in the UK."

Have you lost your keys anywhere strange? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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