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I’m Locked Out Of My House, What Do I Do Now?

I’m Locked Out of My Home. What Do I Do Now?

With our busy daily schedules and the frequent distractions of everyday life, it is easy to make common mistakes like locking ourselves out of our own homes. We’re only human, after all.

Locking yourself out of your home can be a minor inconvenience that results in, say, running late to work. However, it can be a much more dangerous situation if young children or pets are locked inside. If you lose your keys or lock them inside your home, don’t panic. You  have many other options for getting back inside quickly and easily without damaging your property by trying to break in through a window or by breaking down a door.

Instead, don’t panic, remain calm, and consider the following options for getting back inside safely.

Call a Friend, Roommate, or Family Member

It’s a great idea to give someone you trust a copy of your key for situations like this. Give a trusted neighbor a copy of your house key for safekeeping. Make sure to choose someone who is responsible and is usually available (not traveling frequently) to help in an emergency.

If you have a roommate, friend, or family member that has a copy of your key, it should be easy to call them and ask if they can let you into the  house. If you don’t have access to your phone to call them, ask to borrow one from a neighbor or a local business.

Locate a Spare Key

Many people hide spare house keys around their homes for situations just like these. While it is not a good idea to hide your key in well-known hiding places like the front doormat or under a potted plant (see our article on Common Home Security Fails for more info on this), there are safer solutions for securely hiding keys like outdoor key safes, fake rocks designed to hold spare keys, and other smarter alternatives.

Double-Check Other Access Points

Is there a chance that a back door, side door, or window was left open? Don’t attempt to get back in by breaking a window, since you could potentially hurt yourself and the repairs can be expensive. Only enter through a window or other door if you’re able to open it from the outside safely.  Does your back door have a doggie door for access for your pets? If you can squeeze through there, you’ll be in!

If you have access to a toolset, you may be able to get inside by removing a doorknob on doors that don’t have deadbolts. Check to see if there are any screws on your doorknob or a plate that can be removed by a screwdriver. Make sure you’re using the right screwdriver for the screws on your doorknob.

Call a Professional Locksmith

If you find yourself in a situation where none of the solutions above will work for you, you can always call Pop-A-Lock for professional locksmith services. Calling a locksmith is often the safest, easiest, and quickest way to regain access to your home or car. The technicians at Pop-A-Lock are certified and trained on the latest locksmith technology, and we’re always here when you need us. Give your local Pop-A-Lock a call, and we’ll have you back inside your home as soon as possible with fast, professional, and reliable service.

What are VATS Keys and How Do They Work?

What is a VATS Key?

The safety of our vehicles is extremely important to all of us. VATS keys, introduced by GM in 1986, were one of the first  keys to provide extra security measures, and therefore extra peace of mind that a vehicle is as safe as possible. VATS (Vehicle Anti-Theft System) keys were first used on Corvettes, because, as you can imagine, the sports car was a major target for thieves.

Since the invention of the VATS key did so well to reduce the number of stolen Corvettes, GM expanded the system to other models such as the Camaro, Firebird, and Cadillac Seville vehicles in their later models. VATS keys then became an industry standard as they appeared in other vehicles such as Buicks. The original VATS systems were popular through the early 2000s, and one of the last vehicles released with a traditional VATS system was the 2003 Firebird. The original VATS key systems paved the way for the levels of electronic vehicle security we have today.

Traditional Keys

There are a number of differences between traditional keys and VATS keys. Traditional mechanical keys provide just a basic level of security to vehicles. Two of the most common types of traditional mechanical keys are edge cut keys and side-winder keys.

Edge cut keys are the standard key variety that many vehicles have used for decades. The cuts are on the edge of the keys, and they can be copied by most standard key machines.

High security, or side-winder keys, offer a little more security than edge cut keys as they cannot be copied by standard key machines. In order to copy these keys, a particular type of machine must be used to engrave cut specifications into the key.

VATS Keys and How They Work

VATS keys are essentially the first electronic keys and, as such, provide a much-needed improvement in vehicle safety from their predecessors. VATS keys have resistors embedded in them, and when someone inserts a VATS key into the ignition of their vehicle, an electrical current runs through the resistor inside. The resistor value is read by a computer inside the car, and if it is not the same as the value in the computer’s memory, the car will not be able to start. This function provides extra security because a few minutes of stalling is plenty of time for a car thief to choose another vehicle to pursue.

Also, duplicating a VATS key is not as simple as going to a key copier at the store. In order to copy a VATS key, a locksmith will use a VATS interrogator to determine the resistance value of the key as it is important that they match, and then the cuts can be copied onto the blank key.

The Remote Keys of Today

Electronic keys have certainly come a long way since the release of the original VATS keys in the mid ‘80s. Nowadays, many of us have remote buttons we can use to lock and unlock our cars at the very least. Many vehicles now have keypads on which you can enter a code to unlock your car, and even push-to-start buttons that render a standard key unnecessary.

Proximity technology of locking and unlocking remotes that come with newer vehicles is a way push-to-start vehicles can remain safe, as long as the remotes stay in the possession of the vehicle’s owner. Today’s modern remote key fobs often have a number of functions in addition to locking and unlocking cars, including folding down mirrors, opening windows and sunroofs, and even remotely starting cars. Because car key technology is ever-advancing, locksmiths keep up with trends and will be able to answer any key-related questions you may have.

Need Help? Call the Key Experts at Pop-A-Lock

Regardless of the type of key or vehicle you have, the experts at Pop-A-Lock have the knowledge and trained technicians you need to retrieve keys locked in your car, or help replace lost or stolen keys. Founded in 1991 in Lafayette, Louisiana, we have over two and a half decades of experience as trained, educated, and dedicated locksmiths. All of our technicians are trained on the most up-to-date locksmith technology including VATS keys and any other type of vehicle key you have, and we are proud to serve more than 8,500 communities. Visit our website to find the Pop-A-Lock nearest you. We’re there when you need us.

6 Tips To Prevent Workplace Crime

Common forms of workplace theft and fraud include:

Billing Fraud: An employee submits inflated invoices, invoices for fictitious services  and goods, or invoices for personal purchases.

Cash Larceny: An employee steals an incoming payment after it has been recorded on the accounting books.

Prevent Workplace Crime

Skimming: An employee steals an incoming payment before recording it on the accounting books

Embezzlement: This involves the taking of money or property by an employee who was entrusted to it.

Business owners can implement the following practices to help reduce the chance of these crimes occurring:

  1. Know employees well and be aware of any odd behavior. Examples include an employee’s sudden devotion to working late or early, sudden lifestyle changes that don’t align with their salary, and strong objections to procedural changes that involve money.
  2. Supervise employees closely. Studies indicate that when supervision is lax, fraud rates increase.
  3. Provide a way for employees to report theft or fraud discreetly.
  4. Have a method of tracking spending. Use purchase orders, cash receipts, and informal audits.
  5. After an employee is terminated or laid off, rekey the locks.
  6. Install Security measures such as key control systems. Limit access to areas with sensitive financial data to specific employees.
Prevent Workplace Crime
Workplace Security Lock

Pop-A-Lock Site Security Audit and PAL Commercial Security Solutions

Pop-A-Lock created the Commercial Site Security Audit as a way for customers to think about and evaluate their current security measures. This checklist, which can be downloaded for free here,  provides guidance for creating a safer environment for your employees, customers, and visitors. The site security audit will evaluate your business with a security-focused mindset, identifying potential security threats and ensuring code compliance.

At Pop-A-Lock, we recommend you select an access control system that best suits your business’s needs and will provide a higher level of security than what you currently have. Our security professionals will you to determine the right system for your company, helping keep your employees, information, and equipment safe.

From rekeying to new lock installation, Pop-A-Lock’s highly skilled technicians can provide the best locksmith services at affordable rates. Some of our commercial services include:

  •   Repairing locks, exit devices, and ancillary locking hardware.
  •   Maintaining proprietary key systems, including Primus, Medeco, and others.
  •   Providing on-site service using a standardized billing process.
  •   Replacing and controlling keys and locks for desks.
  •   Providing Pop-A-Lock’s locksmith services to your employees at a discounted rate.
Pop-A-Lock Workplace Security

To schedule a Pop-A-Lock Security Professional to evaluate your business, call 1-800-POP-A-LOCK today.

My Key Is Stuck In The Lock, What Do I Do Now?

For almost all of us, keys are vital to our everyday lives. They are essential instruments that allow us to gain or prevent entrance to our homes and offices, how we operate our vehicles, and how we keep our possessions secure. What happens then, when the keys you depend on so much fail to let you in, or get stuck in a lock? It happens more than you think, and it can happen in your car, home, or office.

Key Stuck in Lock

Fortunately, Pop-A-Lock is there for you when it happens. You can give us a call, and we can help you avoid damaging your door lock or vehicle ignition when trying to retrieve your key.

To better help you understand how keys get stuck and what you should do when it happens, we’ve included some helpful information below.

Key stuck in Car Lock

How Keys Get Stuck in the Ignition

There are a few main reasons a key may get stuck in a car ignition: problems with related components of the vehicle, issues with the key itself, or issues with the ignition lock cylinder.

1. Transmission gear selector is not in park. An automatic transmission is designed so that you cannot remove your key unless the car is in park. If your key gets stuck in your ignition, there may be a chance that you didn’t shift entirely into park when you turned off the car. If this is the case, there’s an easy fix. Shift into park and remove your key!

2. Dead battery. If there is no power running through the electronic ignition system in your vehicle, it may fail to release your key. A quick way to determine if you have a battery problem is to open your car door and see if your inside lights come on. If they don’t, a battery issue may be to blame, and your local Pop-A-Lock will be able to diagnose, andl likely even fix.

3. If you don’t have a transmission gear selector or battery issue, the issue may be with the key itself. Over time, keys can get dirty, bent, and worn down from daily use. You can also bend your key out of shape if you’ve used it as a tool to open things or for any other reason than it’s designed use.

Gently wiggling the key can sometimes free it, but you don’t want to use excessive force as this can cause much bigger problems.

4. The car’s lock cylinder not operating correctly. Just as the key can get dirty, the inside of the lock mechanism can, too. Debris in the lock mechanism may be prohibiting the key from being released. In this situation, it is best to call an experienced locksmith as wiggling the key too much may further push debris into the lock mechanism, worsening your problem.

Key Stuck in Lock

How Keys Get Stuck in Door Locks

Keys can get stuck in door locks for similar reasons as vehicle ignitions, such as the key being dirty, or the lock mechanism needing lubrication.

Dirty or misshapen keys and lock mechanisms are also common causes of keys getting stuck in door locks. Debris or worn grooves can prohibit the lock pins from sitting properly against the key, which can cause it to get stuck inside the lock. A lack of lubrication can worsen this issue. Lightly jiggling your key while spraying a pump of WD-40 into the keyhole may release it, but if not, don’t resort to breaking windows when experienced locksmiths are available to help you get the key out of the lock without doing any damage.

Call Pop-A-Lock For Key Extraction

There are a multitude of reasons that a key may get stuck in a door lock or an ignition. Fortunately, Pop-A-Lock is there for you, and you don’t have to worry. Our technicians are certified and skilled in key extraction and ignition repair, so you can rest assured that your property is safe in our hands. Visit our website to find the Pop-A-Lock that is closest to you so that you can get your key back as smoothly and quickly as possible.

Pop-A-Lock Fixing Key Stuck in Locks