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Bike Safety: Security and Storage Tips and Tricks

Making Your Bike Theft-Proof

bike tire assembly

Whether you commute by bike every day or are more of a casual hobby rider, the possibility of someone stealing your bike is always a looming threat. Fortunately, there are a lot of great security and storage options available to protect your bike as best as you can. We’ve compiled some of our most trusted tips for bike safety, security, and storage, so you can feel confident knowing your bike is protected.

Bike Security

prepared with bike lock

Types of Bike Locks

Bike locks come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and security levels, so knowing the differences between them is an important part of choosing the best one for you. 

U-Locks: Also called D-locks because of their shape, these locks are some of the most highly recommended for cities and other high-density areas. U-locks are incredibly strong and are unable to be cut with bolt cutters but aren’t overwhelmingly heavy, making them a great choice for most people. At first, it can certainly feel awkward trying to secure your bike with a U-lock because of its shape and inflexibility, but it gets easier with a little practice. Unless your U-lock is particularly large, you’ll need to lock your bike to relatively thin posts, bike racks, railings, etc, which can make finding a spot to park a little more challenging sometimes. 

Chain Locks: Offering high levels of strength plus greater flexibility in movement, chain locks are tough to beat. The thick, reinforced chain is difficult to cut but can easily be wrapped around multiple parts of your bike before securing it to a rack or other post. Depending on the size and shape of your bike, you might even be able to secure the bike frame and both tires using only one chain lock. The major drawback to chain locks, however, is that they’re quite heavy, so in opting for high security and flexibility, you lose out on it being lightweight. 

Cable Locks: By far the most common kind of bike lock, cable locks are also the most affordable option. You can choose between combination locks — which are great if you have a tendency to lose keys — or keyed locks — which are a solid bet if you have trouble remembering lock combinations. However, cable locks are incredibly easy to break and cut through with simple tools, making bikes locked with them a very easy target. That’s not to say you should never buy a cable lock, however, they’re not the most secure so are inadvisable for many areas.

bikes locked up

Lock Your Bike Like a Pro

Now that you’ve invested time and money into choosing a good bike lock, it’s time to learn how to use it correctly. A strong, sturdy lock can lose most of its efficacy if not used properly, meaning you could have the toughest lock on the market, but if you don’t lock your bike smartly, someone could still manage to steal it. The following guidelines should help ensure your bike is well protected: 

  • Make sure your bike is locked to a fixed, immovable object like a post or bike rack that is cemented into the ground. Otherwise, someone could lift up what your bike is locked to and slide the lock right off. 
  • Try to include as many parts of your bike inside the lock as possible. Always start by locking the frame to the rack and then try to get a tire in as well if possible! If your lock allows, securing the frame and both tires to the stationary object is ideal. 
  • Park your bike in the middle of the bike rack. The ends of the rack offer the most access for a potential thief to break your lock and make off with your bike. 
  • Use multiple locks if necessary. Some U-Locks come with an additional cable lock that can reach and be looped through the front tire. If you’ve secured your frame and back tire but are worried about someone making away with your front tire, you could opt for 2 U-Locks instead. While 2 U-Locks are more secure, this method also ends up being much heavier because of the weight of both locks.
  • If you have a keyed lock, try and angle the key slot towards the ground. This simple tip makes it much more difficult for someone to pick the lock or tamper with the locking mechanism.
bikes in a row

Bike Storage

While parking and locking your bike in public places can seem the riskiest, 50% of bike thefts actually occur on private property. It is imperative to always lock your bike, and lock it well, even around your home. If you are able to store your bike indoors or have a private garage, that is ideal, but realistically, many people don’t have either of those options available to them. Communal storage facilities in some apartment buildings are an excellent option as long as you are diligent about locking your bike after each use. 

The extra couple of minutes it takes to lock and secure your bike can be annoying or frustrating, but it is so much better than having your bike stolen or damaged.

bike lock

Pop-A-Lock is Here to Help

The reality is, even if you do everything right and try to make your bike as secure as possible, your bike still could get stolen. No lock is 100% unbreakable or impenetrable, so if someone does manage to get through your lock and deterrent strategies, it can be incredibly frustrating. 

We also know that sometimes we make mistakes ourselves — losing keys, forgetting combinations, locking ourselves out, you name it. If you find yourself needing a professional’s help to get out of a sticky situation, call your local Pop-A-Lock; we’re always here to help.

Solutions to the Top Security Camera System Questions

Solutions to the Top Security Camera System Questions

security cameras

There’s no training for becoming a homeowner and the avalanche of maintenance questions that follow. Besides, between mortgages, chores, and pesky HOAs, there’s hardly time to worry about whether a simple door alarm is enough to secure your property or if a hair-width crack in your wall means the foundation is going under. 

While we can’t speak to the latter problem, as home safety experts, we can provide solid answers on your pressing security system questions, no matter how small. In this article, we’ll address the five most common home security system questions (per Google search results), hopefully putting your safety worries to rest for good.

Security System Q & A

Q:  What should I look for when buying a house alarm?

A: First, let’s break down the difference between burglar alarms and home security systems, as the two are easily confused. 

Burglar alarms are individual, self-monitored units intended to alert you in the case of a break in. Security systems, on the other hand, may involve alarm units or other security equipment, but these materials are provided through a security company which then provides some form of 24/7 monitoring, such as calling the police when an alarm is set off. 

So, if you’re considering a house alarm system, you first need to determine if DIY, individual alarms and sensors are right for you, or if a monitored security system is more suited to your family’s needs. Though the former is cheaper, it only alerts you to nefarious activity after a trespass has occurred, not to mention it only works to deter crime if you’re home or near enough to hear the alarm. The latter, though more expensive, is probably more cost effective since, for a monthly fee, you receive 24/7 monitoring in addition to multiple pieces of security equipment, such as alarms and security cameras.

Q: What are the top 5 home security systems?

A: Though answers to this question vary based on personal preference, after browsing Consumer Reports and numerous other online rankings, we’ve compiled a list of what we believe to be the best home security systems on the market, in no particular order: 

  1. Vivint Security — best in smart home security
  2. SimpliSafe — best overall DIY security system 
  3. ADT — best in experienced professional monitoring 
  4. Cove Security — best in customer service
  5. Adobe — best in DIY smart home security

That said, this is merely our opinion, and we urge you to evaluate your family’s needs and conduct your own research before landing on any one system.

smartphone cctv

Q: What should I ask a home security company?

A: Great question! Before committing to any one security company, you should read up on their services, equipment, and customer service, weighing what you find against your family’s needs. Once you’ve landed on a couple security services, the next step would be to research or ask a company representative several of the following questions:

  • How long has the company been in business? While you might save money in using a newer company, you should only trust more advances security system monitoring and installation to reputable companies with years of experience.
  • Is the company fully licensed? Just because the company exists doesn’t mean it’s licensed. To ensure you receive the utmost quality, call to verify that your security company is licensed for business with state and local governments. 
  • What is the company’s average response time to alarms? In security, a great response time is considered 60 seconds or less. 
  • How frequently does the company test their systems? This involves regular check-ups to ensure all equipment is working properly. Here, the gold standard is once per month. 
  • What measures does the company take to ensure client safety? This question covers a range of customer safety concerns, from whether the company is fully bonded to whether the contractors who install the equipment receive background checks. Evaluate your concerns and ask accordingly. 
  • Does the security equipment have a warranty? All good things must end and, with electrical equipment, the final act may be closer than you think. Be sure to inquire on the length of the warranty and whether or not your security provider offers free installation/repair. 
  • Can the company provide information to share with homeowner’s insurance? In most cases, showing proof of a security system should lower your monthly premium. 
  • Does the company offer systems with advanced safety features? This includes remote access, cellular monitoring, video services, and email/text/phone notifications. 

Q: What’s the difference between surveillance cameras and security cameras? And what’s the difference between unmonitored and monitored security systems?

A: (Yes, we slightly manufactured this double question, but we think the answers to both are pertinent and somewhat related.)

Security cameras record video footage which are then translated into signals and sent to a remote monitor, whereas surveillance cameras operate on IP networks which link the remote camera to an assigned security location. The latter also typically implies the use of a third-party security monitoring professional.  It follows that if you’re installing video cameras on your property, unless they’re heavily monitored by your security company,  they’re almost always security cameras. 

Regarding security systems, monitored systems are actively monitored by a home security company. This means that if there’s a break in, trespasser, or other equipment-triggering emergency, the security team is immediately notified. Conversley, unmonitored or self-monitored systems involve security equipment you or a contractor installed, which you are then in charge of monitoring. 

These differences are important to note when researching security systems and selecting one that fits your safety needs. 

Q: Should I get window sensors?

A: In other words, are window sensors worth it? We think so, though neglecting to install these small alarms won’t result in a huge dent to your home’s overall safety if you have other security equipment in place. 

According to ADT, 23% of burglars use first-floor windows to enter a home — an alarming statistic indicating the importance of both locking and securing your windows. Window sensors can either alert you if your window is opened or if your glass breaks. Though most home security systems offer window sensors either separately or as part of an equipment bundle, it’s also relatively cheap to purchase these sensors independently.

cctv installation

We Know Security is King

As expert locksmiths, we know proper home security starts at the front door, but it doesn’t stop there. Ensuring your family has the best in protection means scoping your entire property for potential blind spots, and then finding ways to fortify potential weaknesses. If you’re looking for a blueprint on this search, look no further than Pop-A-Lock’s free, DIY security audit, found here.

The Best Ways to Secure Your Garage or Parking Location

The Best Ways to Secure Your Garage or Parking Location

parking lot

Despite being incredibly valuable — probably our most valuable asset — cars are often left outside, unprotected. This is even more surprising when considering that, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, more than 1 in 10 property crimes occur in parking lots or garages. The reason for the frequency is simple: home garages are easy to break into, while public or private business garages provide ample coverage and target options. Given the prevalence of automotive crime, we clearly have a lot of work to do when securing our idle vehicles. 

Here, we’ll cover our top safety tips for when your car is parked in your garage, a public garage, and a business’ private garage.

Home Garage Security Tips

Personal garages are home not only to one or multiple cars, but also lawnmowers, lawn equipment, sporting gear, decoration storage, and much, much more. With all these valuables in one location, it’s surprising to consider that home garages are the most vulnerable part of a home’s structure and are a frequent entry-point for invaders. As such, it’s important to consider beefing up your garage’s internal security and not becoming too relaxed when handling garage-bound items. Here are some things you can do:

  • Always Close the Garage Door

The most common cause of garage burglary is a simple mistake: leaving the door open. The fix (closing the door, of course) might seem simple enough, but it’s important to diligently practice closing your garage door every time it’s opened, in addition to locking the house door inside the garage. 

  • Secure Garage Door Windows

Although it’s better to not have garage door windows at all, the second-best option is to secure these openings. Since thieves often use garage doors to scope out a property’s offerings — or even as a means to enter the residence — placing a dark tarp over the glass could work as a great deterrent to both issues. 

  • Install Floodlights

Most thieves target home garages because they know it’s the place most likely to be neglected by property owners. Prove them wrong by installing motion-activated floodlights. Not only will these shed some much-needed light on nefarious activities, they also lend the impression of greater security surrounding the garage area. 

  • Hide Keys and Garage Openers 

Often, homeowners will leave their car keys or garage door openers in cars parked in outside driveways, assuming their neighborhood is too safe for burglary. Be smarter: thieves can target nearly any neighborhood of their choosing. As such, it’s important to bring your keys inside every time you return home.

  • Install a Garage Alarm System

When installing alarm points in your home’s security system, don’t overlook your garage! Having a motion-activated alarm can both alert you to shady activity and scare off thieves.

drive way

Public Garage Security Tips

Although public garage security is largely out of our control, that doesn’t mean we should leave our well-being to chance. Here are three important steps to securing your car in a public garage:

  • Look for Visibility

When selecting a parking spot in a public garage, be sure to choose a spot with great visibility, meaning plenty of light and space. Thieves love to target cars parked behind shadowy columns, or cars parked away from fellow travelers since they’re less likely to be spotted. Luckily, you can avoid this situation altogether by parking among other cars in a spacious, well-lit area. 

  • Always Lock Behind You

A simple mental slip — forgetting to lock up when in a public space — can result in a huge expense for vehicle owners should a burglar break a window or, heaven forbid, steal your car. Stay present when leaving a public garage and wait to hear the beep! of your car locking behind you. 

  • Secure your Possessions

Do as the common parking lot security sign says and lock your car, take your keys, and hide your belongings. Prowling car burglars are more likely to target a car with valuables on display, so be sure to stash any laptops, purses, and shopping bags under seats or portable blankets when locking up. 

Business Garage Security Tips

Business owners have an obligation to provide safe parking to employees and customers alike. Failing to do so could result in an immense amount of personal guilt, not to mention losing out on greater patrons and workers. To provide top-notch security and safety to whoever leaves their car at your doors, we recommend the following: 

  • Install Emergency Stations 

These security devices are the large, metallic boxes with blue lights you sometimes see near parking garage elevators or exits. A small dial box allows garage attendees to easily alert security or law enforcement in case of an emergency. Given the added safety emergency stations provide, it’s not surprising that the mere presence of one or two boxes on each garage floor can be enough to reassure drivers that their car is in good hands, while also deterring potential thieves. 

  • Access Control / Install Security Gate

If your business parking is exclusive to employees or if you’d like to keep an eye on the clientele entering your garage, installing an access card station or security booth is the way to go. Assigning parking garage access cards to each employee to be used at a corresponding entrance booth ensures that each person entering actually works at your establishment. A security gate, on the other hand, could perform the same function with the added security of on-hand security personnel to deter on-foot intruders, or used more casually in order to ensure people entering are true customers. 

  • Install Video Surveillance 

Having a visible, video surveillance system throughout your garage is a fantastic way to both deter thieves and monitor suspicious activity. With a 24/7 security team on standby, situations that would turn dangerous can be quickly identified and de-escalated. 

empty parking spot

We Have Cars On Lock

When most people think “locksmith,” they think of people who repair locks on homes and businesses, and they might be right. But when it comes to Pop-A-Lock, this definition should be expanded to include automobiles and overall personal security. No matter if you need car rekeying, key fob duplication or your door is in a jamb, we’re here to help. Check out more of our services here: https://www.popalock.com/automotive/

How to Secure Your Pet Door Against Burglary

How to Secure Your Pet Door Against Burglary

pet thru door

While pet doors are a fun way to give your pet more freedom to run around, they can also be seen as an invitation by unwanted guests, such as burglars, to enter your home. Fortunately, there are ways to limit the usage of a pet door to just your cat or dog. Keep reading to find a few tips and tricks on how to ensure your pet door stays a pet door.

pet door

Smart Installation

The first step is to buy an appropriately sized pet door. Your furry friend should have just enough room to enter and exit comfortably. If your dog is larger, solutions 3 and 4 may be more beneficial for you. 

That being said, when an intruder is attempting to enter a home through a smaller pet door, they aren’t simply squeezing through. Rather, they often use the pet door as a way to reach door handles and locks, effectively letting themselves in.

  • Solution 1: Try installing your pet door into a wall, not a doorway. This will give intruders no way to reach through the pet door and grab a door handle or lock. Having a pet door installed into a wall can also give you an opportunity to conceal the door, such as positioning it amidst shrubbery or bushes.
  • Solution 2: Try out a doggie door that only opens when your pet’s collar is near it. There are several of these on the market, and they work in different ways, ranging from magnets to RFID chips.

If an intruder were to somehow manage to find your pet door, or begin an attempt to get through, there are still some things you can do to deter them from snooping around any further.

  • Solution 3: To scare away unwanted visitors, consider investing in a security alarm for your pet door. Many of these alarms are weight-based, so all you need to do is gauge the weight of your pet (or your heaviest pet) and get an alarm that will be triggered by anything heavier than them.
  • Solution 4: Another way to discourage burglars is to install motion sensor lights in the area around the pet door. From the perspective of an intruder, a light turning on inside of the house means it is possible someone is home. You may also want to install cameras in the area, to track any suspicious activity you may be noticing.
doggy door

Additional Steps

If you have a pet door, there are other ways to secure your home against burglary that do not directly relate to the door itself, but can still deter intruders.

  • Solution 5: Purchasing a ‘Beware of Dog’ sign (even if your dog is a complete cuddle bug) can scare off criminals. When a burglar is assessing a potential target, they will look at outside elements and put together a complete story of what may be awaiting them inside the home. Adding a warning sign, whether it be a ‘Protected by [security company]’ or ‘Beware of Dog’ sign can discourage intruders.
  • Solution 6: If your pet door is located in the back of the home, fortifying your fence is an option. This can be done by making it too tall to see over or climb, or installing spikes that make it uncomfortable to climb.
beware of dog

Ditch the Doggie Door

If none of the above solutions are applicable to you, consider getting rid of the pet door entirely. Instead, train your pet to tell you when it wants to go outside or come back in. This will allow you to have a greater sense of security in knowing that there is one less vulnerable area in your home that can be accessed by intruders.

5 Reasons Why People Lock Themselves Out of Their House and How to Prevent It

5 Reasons Why People Lock Themselves Out of Their House and How to Prevent It

waiting on stairs

You think it’ll never happen to you until you’re standing at your front door, groceries in hand, only to realize you have no way of getting back in. For one reason or another, your keys are MIA. You’re locked out. This is a common predicament, and it can happen to even the most vigilant adults. Before resorting to breaking in, learn the main reasons people get locked out of their homes, and what you can do to prevent a lockout.

key on ground

Top 5 reasons for lockouts

  1. Lost keys: Though most of us run through the “wallet, phone, keys” check when leaving home or running errands, in the hurry of everyday life, it’s easy to set your keys down only to forget to pick them up again. Due to their size and weight, keys are also liable to slipping out of our hands and pockets unnoticed. Because we’re accustomed to having our keys on us at all times, we may not even realize they’re gone until it’s too late.
  2. Leaving keys inside: You don’t need to lose your keys entirely to get locked out. In many cases, all it takes is forgetting to bring your keys outside when you’re locking up. Many residences have automated locks that seal the door as soon as they’re shut, key or no key. Even if your door isn’t fitted with any fancy gadgets, most exterior doors have two locks: the standard door lock and deadbolt. The standard door lock and be set from the inside and lock the moment someone pulls the door shut. It’s in reaching for your deadbolt key, however, that you realize your pockets are empty, the door is sealed, and your keys are sitting safely inside.
  3. Damaged or broken keys: They may be made of steel or brass, but keys aren’t indestructible. Over time, the teeth on a key become worn down, making it difficult for the notches to catch inside the lock. This, combined with excessive force, can cause keys to break inside the lock itself, leaving residents with no way to turn the lock and open the door.
  4. Door jambs: Houses and apartments are unpredictable. Whether through drastic temperature changes or moisture, door frames can expand and contract, causing them to become stuck. Locks can also become jammed through rust or constant wear. In these cases, even if your key is in prime condition, there might not be a way to get your door unstuck without damaging it.
  5. Stolen keys: In the worst case scenario, keys and key rings can be stolen off our person or taken when we leave them sitting around. If you don’t have a spare, you could be left with no option of getting back into your home.

Step one to preventing a lockout: don’t get locked out

Though we’re in the business of busting locks, if we could prevent home lockouts — and the embarrassment and stress that comes with them — we would. You might not be able to protect against broken keys or door jams, but following these useful tips could help you avoid all preventable lockouts:

  • Limit all keys to one key-ring. It may be bulky and slightly difficult to carry around, but having a single ring for all your keys results in less items to keep track of, in addition to being harder to lose.
  • Set a designated drop-off point. Having a small key dish or hook near your front door can serve as a reminder to bring your keys with you through all your comings and goings.
  • Make a spare key. In the unfortunate case of a lockout, it’s handy to have a spare key either on your person or stored in a secure location outside your residence. Duplicate keys can be created at most hardware stores or through key copy kiosks. You can then hide your spare in a secure location, or store it in a covert outdoor key-holder (these are often disguised as rocks or sprinklers).
  • Have a mental check-list. Remember the “wallet, phone, keys” check we mentioned earlier? This may seem like a no-brainer, but doing a simple check for your valuables before you return home can help you keep track of your possessions and alert you to any missing items.
key door

Stuck? Pop-A-Lock is on it

So you’re locked out. (We get it, nobody’s perfect). Before kicking down a perfectly fine door or smashing a window, give Pop-A-Lock a ring. Through our 24/7 lockout service, we’ll dispatch a locksmith to your location and get you back into the comfort of your home in a flash.