Title:
Key hiding device
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A key hiding device having a facade that resembles a typical sprinkler is provided. The device includes a housing having a cavity therein and a cap that detachably engages with the housing. Keys and other small items can be hidden inside the cavity in the housing. The device can be installed underground with the cap disposed substantially flush with the surface of the soil. The cap has a facade that is substantially identical to a typical pop-up sprinkler cap so that a person who is not familiar with the exact location of the device would be unable to make a quick determination as to which one of the numerous sprinkler caps is actually the key hiding device even if the person is aware of sprinkler shaped key hiding devices.



Inventors:
Buckley, Kevin (Alta Loma, CA, US)
Application Number:
10/753105
Publication Date:
08/26/2004
Filing Date:
01/07/2004
Assignee:
BUCKLEY KEVIN
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
220/288
International Classes:
B65D41/04; B65D81/36; (IPC1-7): B65D41/04
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20080185309GLASS PACKAugust, 2008Grigsby et al.
20070235360Assembled Tool-Storing FrameOctober, 2007Lin
20080023353SMOKING ARTICLE PACKAGE AND LIGHTER CADDYJanuary, 2008Eldridge
20080041740Nestable carton for wheelbarrow kitFebruary, 2008Hyp et al.
20030230499Gift box with side saddlesDecember, 2003Wagner
20080314518Aqueous two-component organoalkoxysilane compositionDecember, 2008Sutter et al.
20010050236Washing agent dispenser, especially for dishwashingDecember, 2001D'estais
20080053850Fold down hard case doorMarch, 2008Daniel
20060201844Combined toilet paper hand wipeSeptember, 2006Bostic
20080116098Food container with breathable patchMay, 2008Marooflan et al.
20020029994Kit for inserting a multiple catheter assemblyMarch, 2002Schon



Primary Examiner:
BARRETT, SUZANNE LALE DINO
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Hani Z. Sayed (Costa Mesa, CA, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. A device for hiding keys or other small device outdoors, comprising: a housing having a base and a sidewall extending upwardly from the base to define a cavity therein, wherein the cavity is configured to store keys and other items; and a cap detachably engages with the housing, wherein the cap is configured to substantially resembles a sprinkler cap.

2. The device of claim 1, wherein an upper surface of the cap comprises features and markings that are present on a sprinkler cap.

3. The device of claim 1, wherein the cap comprises a conventional sprinkler cap.

4. The device of claim 1, wherein the housing is substantially cylindrical.

5. The device of claim 1, wherein the cap has a diameter of about 2 inches.

6. The device of claim 1, wherein the cap engages with the housing via a set of interengaging threads.

7. The device of claim 1, further comprising an anchor extending downwardly from the base and adapted to anchor the device in soil.

8. A key hiding device, comprising: a compartment for hiding keys; and a facade that resembles at least a portion of a pop-up sprinkler.

9. The device of claim 8, wherein the facade resembles a pop-up sprinkler cap.

10. The device of claim 8, further comprising a removable cover positioned over an opening formed in the compartment.

11. The device of claim 8, wherein the facade of an upper portion of the device resembles an upper portion of a pop-up sprinkler.

12. The device of claim 8, wherein the compartment resembles a pop-up sprinkler housing.

13. A method of forming a key hiding device, comprising: providing a conventional pop-up sprinkler having a cap and a housing; removing the cap from the housing; and removing sprinkler parts from inside the housing so as to form a cavity therein adapted to receive a key.

14. The method of claim 13, wherein the sprinkler stem inside the housing is removed.

15. The method of claim 13, further comprising re-attaching the cap to the housing and affixing the device to the ground with the cap disposed substantially flush with the upper surface of the ground.

16. The method of claim 13, further comprising positioning the device adjacent to a plurality of other conventional pop-up sprinklers.

17. The method of claim 13, further comprising positioning a plurality of the devices in the ground such that the devices are spaced apart in a similar manner as conventional pop-up sprinklers.

18. The method of claim 16, wherein the device is positioned in the front yard of a dwelling.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/442,614, filed Jan. 23, 2003, which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] 1. Field of the Invention

[0003] This invention relates generally to devices for hiding keys and other small items, and more particularly, to a device for hiding keys and small items outdoors.

[0004] 2. Description of the Related Art

[0005] It is a common practice for many to hide a spare key outside of their dwelling in a readily accessible place in the event that the keys they normally carry are misplaced or lost. For example, a common place for hiding spare keys is under the doormat or on top of the door ledge. However, this practice is often discouraged because burglars usually search under the doormat or on top of the door ledge for hidden spare keys when attempting to break into a home.

[0006] Various devices have been developed for hiding spare keys in less conspicuous places around the dwelling. For example, small magnetic boxes configured to hold spare keys have been designed to attach to the metal frame of the house. Key hiding receptacles that resemble the shape of rocks or bird nests have also been created. However, one of the drawbacks of these conventional key hiding devices is that they are commonly sold in the market place and prominently displayed in catalogues, commercials, or store shelves. As such, a large number of people, including would-be burglars, have become familiar with the configurations of these devices and can readily identify them when they are in use outdoors. Consequently, many of the commercially available key hiding devices have lost their effectiveness.

[0007] Hence from the foregoing, it will be appreciated that there is a need for an effective device for hiding keys outdoors. To this end, there is a particular need for a key hiding device that cannot be easily recognized as a key hiding device even if the configuration of the device is generally known.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0008] In one aspect, the preferred embodiments of the present invention provide a device for hiding keys or other small items outdoors. The device comprises a housing having a base and a sidewall extending upwardly from the base to define a cavity therein. The cavity is configured for storing keys and other items. The device further includes a cap detachably engaged with the housing, wherein the cap is configured to substantially resemble a sprinkler cap. In one embodiment, an upper surface of the cap comprises features and markings that are present on a sprinkler cap. In another embodiment, the cap comprises a conventional sprinkler cap. In yet another embodiment, the cap has a diameter of about 2 inches. Preferably, the housing is substantially cylindrical and the cap engages with the housing via a set of interengaging threads. In some embodiments, the device further comprises an anchor that extends downwardly from the base and adapted to anchor the device in soil.

[0009] In another aspect, the preferred embodiments of the present invention provide a key hiding device that comprises a compartment for hiding keys and a facade that resembles at least a portion of a pop-up sprinkler. In one embodiment, the facade resembles a pop-up sprinkler cap. Preferably, the facade of the upper portion of the device resembles an upper portion of a pop-up sprinkler. In another embodiment, the compartment preferably resembles a pop-up sprinkler housing.

[0010] In yet another aspect, the preferred embodiments of the present invention provide a method of forming a key hiding device. The method comprises providing a conventional pop-up sprinkler having a cap and a housing, removing the cap from the housing, and removing sprinkler parts from inside the housing so as form a cavity therein adapted to receive a key. In one embodiment, the stem inside the housing is removed. In another embodiment, the method further comprises re-attaching the cap to the housing and affixing the device to the ground with the cap disposed substantially flush with the upper surface of the ground. Preferably, the device is positioned adjacent to a plurality of other conventional pop-up sprinklers, such as in the front yard of a dwelling. In yet another embodiment, a plurality of devices are positioned in the ground such that the devices are spaced apart in a similar manner as conventional pop-up sprinklers.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0011] FIG. 1 is a schematic illustration of a key hiding device of one preferred embodiment of the present invention;

[0012] FIG. 2 is a schematic illustration of the manner in which a key or other items can be placed in and removed from the device of FIG. 1;

[0013] FIG. 3 is a schematic illustration of the manner the key hiding device of FIG. 1 is installed in the ground;

[0014] FIG. 4 is a schematic illustration of the key hiding device of FIG. 1 installed adjacent a dwelling.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

[0015] Reference will now be made to the drawings wherein like numerals refer to like parts throughout. As will be described in greater detail below, the preferred embodiments of the present invention provide a key hiding device that is very difficult for potential burglars and thieves to identify and locate even if the configuration of the device becomes generally known.

[0016] FIG. 1 provides a schematic illustration of a key hiding device 100 of one embodiment of the present invention. As shown in FIG. 1, the key hiding device 100 is configured to resemble a pop-up sprinkler commonly used in an irrigation system to water lawns. The device 100 generally comprises a housing 102 and an annular cap 104 that is detachably secured to the housing 102 by an interengaging set of threads. In one embodiment, the housing 102 has a base 106 and a substantially cylindrical sidewall 108 extending upwardly from the base 106 to define a cavity 110 therein. As FIG. 1 further shows, a key 106 or other small item can be stored and hidden inside the cavity 110 of the housing. In another embodiment, the housing 102 further comprises an anchor 112 extending downwardly from the base 106. The anchor 112, preferably made of metal, is adapted to facilitate planting the housing 102 in soil in a manner to be described in greater detail below.

[0017] As FIG. 1 further shows, the housing 102 and annular cap 104 can be made of a wide variety of materials, such as lightweight molded plastic or the like. In one embodiment, the key hiding device 100 can be constructed from a conventional, commercially available pop-up sprinkler. The commercially available sprinkler can be modified so parts such as the pop-up stem that is typically positioned inside the sprinkler housing are removed. Preferably, substantially all parts inside the sprinkler housing are removed so as to form an interior space adapted for storing keys and other small items. In other embodiments, the key hiding device 100 can be constructed by a conventional molding process in which the parts are formed via an injection molding process or the like.

[0018] As shown in FIG. 2, to access the hidden key 110 or other items placed in the device, the cap 104 is unscrewed from the housing 104 so as to expose an upper opening 114 of the housing 104 from which the key 110 or other items can be retrieved. It will be appreciated that the cap and housing are not limited to the configurations shown and described herein. In particular, the housing can comprise a variety of other sizes and shapes, including those that are not typically used for pop-up sprinklers. Moreover, the cap can resemble a number of different sprinkler cap configurations.

[0019] FIG. 3 shows the manner in which the key hiding device 100 of one preferred embodiment is installed for use. As shown in FIG. 3, the key hiding device 100 is installed underground in a manner such that the annular cap 104 is disposed substantially flush with the surface of the soil 200. As shown in FIG. 3, the cap 104 has a facade that resembles a sprinkler cap 204 used for conventional pop-up sprinklers 206. For example, the upper surface 105 of the cap 104 can comprise features 107, 109 that resemble the upper surface 205 of a typical spray nozzle 207 and/or markings 209 found on a typical sprinkler cap. When the device 100 is installed in the ground, the upper surface 105 of the annular cap 104 is exposed to view and appears substantially identical to a typical sprinkler cap. Thus, potential burglars and other perpetrators are unable to quickly determine which of the many substantially identical sprinkler caps is the actual key hiding device.

[0020] FIG. 4 is a schematic illustration of the manner in which the key hiding device 100 can be installed outdoors adjacent to a dwelling 400. As FIG. 4 shows, the device 100 can be inconspicuously installed in the front yard of the dwelling amongst a plurality of other similar looking sprinkler caps 402. In certain embodiments, more than one of the devices can be installed in the front yard such that the devices are spaced apart in a similar manner as a conventional pop-up sprinkler system. The sheer number of identical sprinkler caps typically installed in a lawn makes it very difficult if not impossible for a potential intruder to make a quick determination as to which of the sprinkler caps is actually a key hiding device even if the intruder is aware of sprinkler shaped key hiding devices. The quick identification cannot be made because of the facade of the key hiding device is substantially identical to a large number of similar devices that are spread out across a lawn.

[0021] Although the foregoing description of the preferred embodiments of the present invention has shown, described and pointed out the fundamental novel features of the invention, it will be understood that various omissions, substitutions, and changes in the form of the detail of the apparatus as illustrated as well as the uses thereof may be made by those skilled in the art, without departing from the spirit of the invention.