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The Pop-A-Lock Checklist to Making Sure Your Home is Secure

A family of three sitting around a white table.

Home is where the heart is – for most people, that’s their family. We’re sure you want to keep them safe. According to the FBI, there are over 1 million burglaries a year in the United States, with the average value stolen being $2,600. Unfortunately, burglaries aren’t the only threat. Roughly 350,000 home fires occur a year. Precautions to avoid these events are simple but often overlooked. Follow these guidelines to secure your home and keep you comfortable.

Roses climbing up a trellis leaned against a house with light gray siding. Plants are growing up the wall near a window.

Keep Your Yard Neat

Believe it or not, an unkempt yard can put you in danger. Tall bushes provide a place for burglars to hide from yourself and neighbors. Overgrown vegetation near windows can be especially dangerous in providing a way for burglars to discreetly sneak in. Excess foliage also makes fires easier to spread. In the event of a fire or a burglary, you’ll likely try to call 911.  Tall bushes will conceal your home number, making it difficult for emergency services to find your home quickly. By keeping bushes short, you can reduce hiding spots , prevent the spread of a fire, and increase the efficiency of receiving help in an emergency.

The outside of a house with outdoor lamps lighting the way.

Light Your Home and Advertise Your Security System

A lit entrance to your home is also very important. Burglars aren’t looking for a challenge. Make sure the driveway and entrance to your home are lit at night. Keep the backyard lit as well. You may even consider motion sensor lights or flood lights, which help to deter burglars. Also, it is important to keep the signs of your home security company visible. Burglars are three times more likely to rob a home that lacks home security. So keeping stickers on all your windows and a home security sign by the front door will help keep you safe.

A key in a door lock.

Secure Your Doors

Oftentimes, burglars will kick down a door that is locked. Keeping the deadbolt locked on doors will make this much harder. Most doors already have a deadbolt, but they can be easily installed if your door doesn’t already have one.

Sliding doors should also be double secured with a dowel rod or some kind of additional lock. Doors should fit tightly into their frames so they are not flimsy. Weather stripping can help secure a loose fitting door. Take it a step further by installing a heavier door made from metal clad or solid wood. These differ from hollow wooden doors or doors with glass windows that could be broken in just moments with little effort .

You’ll also want a way to see outside your door without opening it. Most front doors already have a peep hole, but if yours doesn’t, it’s smart to install one as soon as possible. Another alternative is a doorbell camera. Not only can you see who’s there when the doorbell is rung, but they typically save video footage of your front door throughout the day in case of any suspicious activity.

Stay Equipped For Fire Safety

Every home should be equipped with a fire extinguisher, smoke detector, and carbon monoxide detector. Roughly 50% of house fires occur in the kitchen due to cooking. It is important to keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen for this reason. Additionally, be sure to replace your smoke detector batteries as soon as they go out. Most smoke detectors have a built-in carbon monoxide detector as well but if yours doesn’t, consider getting a separate device. Carbon monoxide is silent and deadly making a detector extremely important for your safety at home.

Two people sitting on swings facing each other.

Know Your Neighbors

In addition to the appearance and equipment in your home, it is important to know your neighbors. Get to know your neighbors on both sides of your home as well as across the street. They can keep you in the loop when you’re out of town or at work if they notice some unusual activity.

Take Precautions When Out of Town

Avoid sharing your vacation on the internet until you’ve returned home. Don’t tell anyone you’re leaving, except people you trust, like your family and neighbors. Have your neighbors keep an extra key on hand and collect your mail for you. Burglars will often choose a house that looks empty or has an overflowing mailbox. It is also a good idea to set a timer for the lights to stay on inside from the morning till about 6 p.m. After all, 65% of burglaries happen during the day while people are at work.

Pop-A-Lock puts your safety first. If you find yourself locked out, Pop-A-Lock will get a technician to you so you don’t have to break a window. We also have electronic locks if you’re looking to update your residential lock system. When following these guidelines, you will be able to enjoy quality time in your home, feeling safe and secure.

Home Alone: How Hero Kevin McCallister Kept His Home Safe

Season Greetings

While there are several simple steps you can take to protect your home, Kevin McCallister went the extra mile to stay secure. Left behind while his family is in Paris, Kevin notices some suspicious activity and has to find a way to fend for himself. Braver than the average homeowner, Kevin shows us some ways we can keep our home secure this holiday season.

Be Careful Who You Trust

Stay safe by keeping your plans to yourself and those you trust. The classic mistake the McCallister family made in the beginning of the movie is telling the burglar they’d be going out of town. Sure, maybe the burglar was dressed as a cop at the time, but you can never be too careful. If you’re going to be away from your home, it’s best to only tell the neighbors you’re close with. This also means resisting the temptation to post pictures of you at the beach or Times Square. Everyone has access to the internet, so it’s best to wait till you’re back from vacation to brag online.

Season Festive

Keep it Lit

They may have spilled their plans to the wrong guy, but at least they kept their house lit while gone. It is important to keep your home well lit to deter burglars and to easily spot abnormal activity. This includes not only the front door but the back of the house as well. Keeping each side of the home well-lit will make every point of entry more secure. Take it to the next step by creating timers for indoor lights to make it appear that someone is home. Kevin was sure to flip the basement light on the second he heard noises outside the door.

Signs of Activity

The burglars knew someone was home when they saw the light switch on, but they got really confused when they saw a whole party at the so-called empty house. Kevin was clever when he tied swings to mannequins to create dancing silhouettes from street view. Paired with holiday music and a cardboard cutout attached to a toy train, the burglars were easily fooled. I know we may not all have several mannequins laying around, but some implied human activity can still help deter burglars. Have your neighbors collect your mail or bring in your trash can. Afterall, burglars are more likely to choose the house with the overflowing mailbox.

Season Holidays

Home Security

We all know the classic “ya filthy animal” science in Home Alone. The second time the burglars came to the door, Kevin played a movie to sound like real dialogue. To make it even more believable, he added firecrackers to a pot the moment gun shots went off in the movie. Talk about special effects. While the movie audio was a great source of defense for Kevin, a home security system may be more practical for the average homeowner.

Toward the end of the movie, things start to get more intense. The burglars discover that Kevin is home alone and decide to finally rob the house, despite him being a child. Christmas Eve at 9 o-clock, Kevin maps out his plan. He is very strategic, creating a guard of defense at just about every corner of the home. 

Glass ornaments under the window, icy stairs, and tar on the basement steps all delay the burglars’ bad intentions. Hot doorknobs and heavy irons falling from the laundry shoot act as booby traps. He even lures them across a makeshift zipline just to cut the wires before they can make it across. Eventually, the burglars get Kevin in their grip. Just as Kevin sees his life flash before his eyes, the quiet neighbor comes to the rescue and the burglars get hauled away in a cop car. 

If the McCallisters simply had a home security system, Kevin probably could’ve avoided all these extra steps. 

While we love to give Kevin props for his cleverness, there’s some easier take aways to keep your home safe:

  • Be careful who you tell when you’re leaving town
  • Keep the house well lit on every side
  • Keep indoor lights on a timer
  • Have a trustworthy neighbor take out your trash and collect your mail
  • Invest in home security and keep the signs posted

We can’t all be heroes, but we can be smart when it comes to our home. If these tips and movie recaps weren’t enough, check out the home security audit on our website for a full checklist on staying secure.

Trying to Break In After Being Locked Out? Why You Should Not DIY

A person looking through a closed window.

Being locked out of your car or home is a stressful situation — so much so that the advantages of kicking down a door or breaking a window appear to outweigh the resulting damage. While these seem like favorable alternatives to waiting around for help, especially if you’re in a hurry or stuck in an unsafe location, it’s almost never worth it. Read on to see why DIY’ing your entry in a lockout situation puts you at risk for injury, burglary, and even unsavory run-ins with the law.

Property Damage and Personal Injury

When squaring-up your door or car window, thinking only of getting inside, it’s easy to overlook the costs. Forcing open a door or breaking glass inevitably results in damage to your property — the repair costs from which are almost always more expensive than calling a locksmith. Depending on how much force you use and the quality of the locking mechanism, these costs can be brutally high. Now add to this the costs of rekeying. Additionally, with breaking in, you risk harming yourself on door debris or broken glass. Imagine now dealing with a medical emergency on top of losing your keys on top of repair expenses. It’s a triple-whammy anyone would want to avoid.

Shattered glass next to a person's feet.

Security Risk

Breaking open a door or window leaves your property vulnerable to theft, no matter how quickly you’re able to mend the problem. If you break down your door, it’s likely that it won’t be able to shut properly once you’re inside. It’s even less likely that the locks will work. Broken windows, on the other hand, allow for easy entry, in addition to tipping-off any passersby to the fact that. If you’re unable to fix this damage right away, your home or car becomes a greater target each day you leave it sitting unfixed. Once again, in any of these cases, calling a locksmith will be easier than replacing property or dealing with the trauma of a home invasion.

An open door at the end of a dim hallway.

Legal Issues

Imagine for a moment you’re a kindly passerby. You notice someone reaching through a shattered car window, straining to grab the keys left in the ignition. Or, alternatively, you spot your neighbor’s door slightly ajar, one of the hinges broken. As a good Samaritan, you alert law enforcement of these break-ins immediately.  However, stepping out of this perspective, both cases happened to be instances of home or car owners trying to gain access to their own property. If law enforcement arrives on the scene, they would immediately profile the perpetrator of the break-in as a thief and arrest them, even if they’re the rightful owners of the home or car. There typically isn’t enough time to produce the proper documentation if you’re interrupted while breaking in. If you’re caught, you’d have a lot of explaining to do, and could even wind up in some legal trouble.

Person writing at a desk.

Time to Call Pop-A-Lock

If you’re in a safe location and locked out of your home or automobile, your first course of action should be giving Pop-A-Lock a ring (number). While we trust you’re strong enough to break down a door or window, our 24/7 locksmith services and roadside assistance will get you back inside just as quickly — minus the damage.

Pop-A-Lock’s Top 10 Ways to Keep Your Outdoor Property Secure

Cozy porch with wicker couch and chairs in front of a stone fireplace.

Though exposed to the elements, our outdoor property is hardly less important than what we keep inside. From grills to gardening equipment to your treasured heirloom gnome, there is an assortment of valuables resting in our front and back yards. Only, with these treasures, we seem perfectly fine with leaving them in the open for all to see. 

If you’re bent on remaining the block’s ultimate grill master (i.e., keeping your equipment away from thieves), read on to learn 10 handy tricks to secure your outdoor property.

Top 10 Ways to Secure Your Yard

1. Put it Inside

No matter your security measures, nothing beats the safety of the great indoors. If you keep an array of items you can’t live without — flat screens, sound systems, gardening equipment — outside, it may be best to bring them into a designated indoor storage area such as your garage before dark each day. At the very least, consider putting your items in a shed or outdoor lockbox. After all: out of sight, out of mind. If a thief can’t see anything worth their time at first glance, they’re less likely to snoop around.

2. Install Flood Lights

Across the U.S., burglary rates increase by 10% from daytime to night, revealing a pretty intuitive truth: thieves crave the cover of darkness. Not only are passersby or property owners less likely to spot them, they’re also more likely to be knocked cold sleeping. A motion-sensing floodlight can solve the former. No matter if animal or man creeps past, motion-sensing flood lights will leap to action, bathing the intruder in light while lending the impression that their every movement is being watched.

3. Increase Visibility

Thieves are more likely to target lawns with plenty of hiding spots. Large shrubs and tall grass provide excellent coverage, while unkempt foliage implies absence, making your home even more likely to be targeted. The solution is simple: keep your yard clean. Trim those hedges, mow that grass, tame that ivy — anything to improve visibility. If you want to go the extra mile, you can even consider planting a few cacti or burglar-proofing your landscaping on the whole.

4. Install a Security System

This option is slightly lower on our list due to high costs and maintenance, but in reality, nothing beats a top-of-the-line outdoor security system in terms of protection. Not only do video systems allow for easy monitoring of all outdoor activity, but the very sight of a camera or alarm system can also be enough to scare away a thief. You could say they’re a bit camera-shy.

5. Give the Appearance of Security

Just because a system is out of your budget doesn’t mean you have to settle for subpar security. Often, the mere appearance of a high-end security system can be enough to give thieves second thoughts since, most of the time, they’re not ones for researching. To look thief-proof, you can install fake security cameras (they still have very real-looking blinking red lights), in addition to security company yard signs and window decals.

6. Padlock Your Shed

While sheds make for an excellent space to stash and preserve outdoor equipment, they’re also one of the most frequently burglarized property items — mainly due to their owner’s lack of security. As such, it’s important to attach a sturdy, weather-proof padlock to your shed’s door handles (and be sure to lock up before heading inside after a day of gardening!)

7. Use a Steel Cable

Think your outdoor sports bar lounge is pretty sweet? So does the neighborhood thief. While locking up your flatscreen and grilling equipment seems obvious, your furniture is also a target and deserves protection as well. One way to achieve this is through using a steel cable — a flexible cord found at nearly every hardware store. After wrapping the cable around furniture legs and flossing it between every item, you can then affix a padlock to secure both ends of the cable, effectively tying everything together. This makes it nearly impossible for a thief to run off with a chair without dragging the entire set behind them.

8. Fortify Your Fence

Often, yards are burglarized as a result of shoddy fencing. If your fence is falling apart, replete with gaps, or using gate locks that no longer work, it might be time to revamp your fort. Looming, metal fences or fences with minimal spacing between planks are best at deterring burglars. If you want to get real intimidating, you can even fix metal spikes at the top of the fence as a kind of bougie barbed wire.

9. Install Gate Alarms

It’s understandable to not want an outdoor alarm blaring for the whole block to hear, but pool and yard gate alarm systems can be a great way to both alert you to nefarious activity and scare away impending intruders.

10. Get a Dog

If your dog’s bark is bigger than his bite, he’d make an excellent doggie defense system. Having an outdoor dog reduces your chances of being burglarized drastically since no thief wants to battle Fido over some lawn chairs. Putting up a “Beware of Dog” sign regardless of your dog’s real temperament can further drill home the point: your yard is off-limits.

Young blonde child in a blue tank top holding a garden hose with water spraying out of it and putting their hand into the water stream.

We Mow Down Yard Thieves

Not literally, of course. That said, Pop-A-Lock’s home security audit is sure to put local thieves out of business. After searching high and low for security weak points on your property, one of our safety experts will recommend solutions to fortify your home. Call today for a free quote or visit our site for more info.