Our Edith is almost a year old. She has been crate trained since she was 2 months old. She hasn't slept in her crate at night for months because she does so well sleeping outside of it. She does stay crated for about 5 hours a day with no problems. Suddenly after a stay-cation where we were home all day with her for 5 days, she started to fight going into the crate. Prior to that, she went more than willingly because we treated her with a yummy treat filled kong.
I decided to test her by leaving her out of the crate a few times and she was fine. She didn't chew one thing up or make a mess. This is ironic because, much to our chagrin, while we are home she loves to play 'keep away and destroy'. Clearly this chewing up game is largely for attention and the thrill of us chasing after her to get our things back. (Don't bother recommending we end the keep away game with a treat, even her favorite cheese is not as fun as this game. I will take other advice though!). It seems that when we are not home to fuss and react, she could care less about tearing our things up.
Since going into the crate has suddenly turned into another theatrical event that results in loads of attention and excitement from us as we try to get out of the house on time for work; should we let her stay out of the crate during the day? Or is this going to un-do all the crate training we have done thus far? Will she never return to the crate? Does she ever really need to return to the crate if she doesn't create any messes out of it?
I think (ultimately) you should go with your gut feeling. Our lab is 2 and is really great about leaving things that are not hers and only playing with her own toys and things. However, we still crate her when we are gone and at night. Why? Because she is still a 'young' dog in my opinion and you just never know. I don't want to take any chances. You could test her out with leaving her out of her crate for short periods of time while you are gone and increase the time gradually.