(571) 888-3230

Home Security Fails: What You Absolutely Shouldn’t Do

Your home is your nest, your place to escape the world outside,  a place to be comfortable and safe, where you can raise your family. With so much at stake,  don’t skimp on security. If it’s important to you to keep your family and valuables safe, be sure to evaluate your safety standards on a routine basis and make sure that you are not guilty of  these common home security mistakes that others frequently make.

Common home security mistakes

When looking for  homes to break into or vandalize, burglars and vandals choose places that seem to be easy targets. When surveilling a neighborhood, they look for homes with predictable patterns of when people come and go. They look for well-maintained homes with nice cars in the driveway. They also look for easy ways to get into your home–such as open windows, unlocked doors, or open garages.

You don’t want your home to be a target, whether you are at home or when you are gone. Here are some common mistakes that people make  that can threaten the security of their homes:

  • Hiding your spare key under a rock/doormat/flower pot–Many people have a spare key outside their front door for when they accidentally get locked out, or when a neighbor or family member needs to drop by when you aren’t home. Just don’t hide it in a conspicuous place.
  • Leaving windows and doors unlocked–unlocked windows or doors are an invitation to burglars to enter your house, either at night or when you are gone. Make sure all the doors and windows are locked when you leave the house.

Pop-A-Lock’s Home Security Services

  • Letting mail pile up–Everyone knows that a collection of mail or newspapers signal to any passersby that you are out of town. Ask a friend or neighbor to pick up your mail or newspapers when you are gone–or ask the post office to pause your mail delivery temporarily.
  • Having outdated or non-functioning alarm systems–Keeping your alarm system working and up to date is essential. Otherwise, why have an alarm system at all? If your home security system isn’t working correctly, we can help.
  • Not having a  deadbolt lock–Burglars can break into your house even through a locked door–if the door doesn’t have proper safety locks.
  • Failing to  rekey locks upon getting a new home–If you have just moved into a new house, you don’t know who has a copy of the keys. Previous tenants, realtors, construction workers, or handymen could all have keys that would allow them entry. Or maybe you have lived in your house for several years now. 
  • Think about how many people might have had access to your keys in the past, including neighbors, dog walkers, former roommates, cleaning staff, handymen, other family members. Anyone who has had your keys in the past could easily make or distribute copies. It’s essential to rekey your locks so that you can control who has access to your keys and entry into your house.

Here at Pop-A-Lock, we provide several valuable home security services to homeowners and renters alike. 

Our specialized  home security audit will help you identify the areas in your home that might be weak points to home security, inviting burglars into your home. Our home security professionals will walk through your home to review your windows, doors, and other potential entry points to your house. We will check the locks, doors, and windows, evaluate them for safety and give you sound advice and recommendations for improving any  areas that are not secure.

Five Home Security Tips You Should Teach Your Children

Home security practices are not just for adults. If you have kids at home, they need to know about safe home security as well, especially now that summer is here and they’re likely spending more time at home alone. Here are eight tips you should teach your children, along with practices you should implement to make your home safer for kids.

  1.   Set the alarm. If you have a home security system, give your children a demonstration of how to operate it. Explain to them its purpose and importance, showing them what they should do when you leave the house. Many security systems are linked to the phone, so you’ll need to show them how to answer the phone and explain to the security company if it’s a false alarm or a real threat. Make sure your kids remember the passcode. Have them recite it aloud and tell them not to share the code with anyone. Quiz them on the code every so often to ensure they know it.
  2.   Lock up. It is essential to teach your kids to lock all the doors and keep the windows closed. If you’re not ready to give a set of house keys to your child, use a smart lock that you can unlock remotely for them. You may want to consider other security solutions such as surveillance that can be viewed remotely and smart doorbell cameras. A doorbell camera would allow you to see if a visitor is a family member, for example, and you could let them in your house using your smartphone.
  1.   Call 911. Your children probably already know to call 911 in case of an emergency. However, don’t assume that they know when and how to contact emergency services for help. Communicate with them and put an emergency procedure in place. The goal is to instill emergency preparedness without making them fearful. Teach your kids what to do in a variety of emergency scenarios, such as a break-in or a fire. Make a list of emergency numbers and information they might need to provide to emergency dispatch. Running practice drills for emergencies is recommended so that your kids know what to do and where to go. Be sure to answer any questions they may have about the process.
  1.   Do not answer the door for strangers. Children at home alone must know to never open the door to anyone else other than their family. It’s best if your children know ahead of time who they can let into the home if you’re not home and the doorbell rings.
  2.   Lock away guns. If you have firearms at your house, make sure they are not loaded and are locked away in a safe place. Be sure to talk to your kids about the dangers of guns and gun safety.

Contact Pop-A-Lock

Looking to improve the security of your home? Pop-A-Lock® can help. We’ve created the Home Site Security Audit as a way for our customers to evaluate their current home security measures. This security checklist will allow you to create a safe environment for you and your children. If you’d like to schedule a home security audit with a Pop-A-Lock Security Specialist, call 1-800-POP-A-LOCK today!

Tips to Prevent Home Invasions

According to The US Department of Justice, 1.03 million home invasions occur each year. And the average loss of a home invasion is approximately $2,000 per home.

These statistics can be alarming. Nobody wants to be the next victim of a home invasion. Don’t worry! The more aware you are of the risks, and the more proactive you are in protecting yourself and your home, the lower your chances of a home invasion.

Ensure All Entryways Are Secured With Locks

The best way to prevent a home invasion is by enhancing security. Installing the right locks, in the right places, can go a long way. It’s shocking how many burglars (40%) enter a home through an unlocked door or window.

First and foremost, make sure every door in your home has a durable lock on it. High-quality deadbolts are solid metal (not hollow) with a throw (the distance which a lock bolt travels when turned) at least 1.5 inches long. If you want to go a step further, there are a variety of smart locks available today. These locks can allow remote access, have more controlled access through codes or phone apps, and can even have built-in cameras to increase security.

In addition to all doors, it’s imperative to make sure every window in your home has a lock on it as well. A window at any level – from basement to upper stories – is a potential entry way for thieves lurking around your property. If your windows are newer, they should come with locks on them. Check that every window is locked every night before bed or before you leave your home. If your windows are wooden or older, they may not have come with locks. If this is the case, you can easily buy bars or deadbolts to install on any window.

The last piece of advice we can give you regarding locks  is do NOT leave any spare keys hidden outside. This probably seems obvious and you’ve heard it time and time again. And yet, people continue to do it. If you need to leave a spare key outside of your home for any reason, put it in a secure lock box or something similar.

Additional Tips From Locksmith Professionals

There are other things – beyond locks and keys – that you can do around your house or property to increase security and lower the risk of home invasion. Some of them include:

  • Keep your house lit, inside and out. Install outdoor lights (preferably motion-activated) near all doors and garages. Put indoor lights on varied timers, so they turn on and off even if you’re asleep or not home. Having these systems in place can make it look like someone is home and deter thieves from targeting your property.
  • Use radio and TV. The same idea applies here – if someone is roaming your property and they hear a TV or radio on inside, they’re more likely to think someone is home and awake. This will lower the risk of a home invasion.
  • Install a smart doorbell or security camera. Many smart doorbells have cameras built in that allow you to monitor your front porch and yard. Having some sort of camera system in place can let you check in on your house from afar and alert you if someone is on your property.
  • If it’s been a while since you rekeyed your home (or you never did when you first moved in), it may be time to consider doing so. Between  babysitters, contractors, cleaners, children, past relationships, and more, the number of keys to your house roaming the world can quickly rack up. Rekeying your house is a simple and painless way to ensure only those who needs keys to your house have them.
  • It doesn’t matter what kind of security you have in place if you don’t use it. Lock your doors, turn on the alarm system, make sure the timers on the lamps are set and ready to come on at  various times.

 

The thought of a home invasion happening to you is frightening. But the reality is a lot of them  are preventable! If you take steps to increase security and protect your home appropriately, you’ll lower your risk of being the next victim.

Call your local Pop-A-Lock today to learn more from our trusted locksmith professionals about what you can do to protect your home! We also have a home security audit checklist you can download for free.

When Should I Rekey My Locks?

The condition of your locks is probably something that rarely crosses your mind, but rekeying your locks is a practice that can significantly improve the security of your home. Key locks provide security for our families and possessions and give us peace of mind, but if we don’t rekey our locks occasionally, the level of protection they provide can diminish.

The Difference Between Changing Locks and Rekeying Locks

Changing locks is pretty self-explanatory: it means you replace the old locks with new ones. For example, you may change your locks if you want to upgrade to an electric lock system, or if you want them to better match the new paint colors or finishes in your home. Rekeying locks is different. When you rekey a lock, you adjust it so that it no longer works with the current set of keys. Once a lock is rekeyed, the keys you  had for it will not be able to open it.

Lock mechanisms contain key pins that correspond to the keys that open a specific lock. When you rekey a lock, you adjust the workings of the key pins so that a new key is needed to open the lock. A locksmith will need the current key in order to rekey a lock. This practice will  improve the security of your home, especially if pins are added.

When To Rekey Your Locks

The following are common reasons to rekey your locks:

  1. Moving Into a New Home: If you buy a home that someone else has previously lived in, it’s a great idea to rekey the locks. You want to be certain that only  people you know and trust have access to your new home. Rekeying locks on a previously owned home helps you ensure that only you and your family members have the keys that can grant access to your home.
  2. Changing Older Locks: If you’ve lived in your home for a while, or if you’ve recently bought an older home, rekeying your locks is a great way to improve security. Lock mechanisms can get dirty and worn down over time, which  leaves them vulnerable to break-ins. Rekeying older locks is a great way to decrease the chances of successful tampering.
  3. You’ve Lost Your Keys: If you’ve lost your keys, rekeying your locks is paramount to the continued safety of your home. There is no  reason to risk a stranger using your keys to enter your home, especially if your keyring had any access or address information on it. Getting rekeyed locks and new keys is the best way to ensure that you and your family remain secure in this situation.

If you have questions about changing locks, rekeying locks, or need assistance determining which option is right for your situation, an experienced Pop-A-Lock locksmith can assist you. Our trained and certified technicians have extensive experience with both replacement and rekeying of locks, and quality work is our priority. Visit the Pop-A-Lock website to find our location nearest you.

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.

10 Tips to Keep Your Home Safe From Burglars

An average of around 3.7 million burglaries occurred each year from 2003-2007, according to the Bureau of Justice.  In about 28% of these burglaries, a household member was home during the burglary.

When a burglary is occurring, almost 30% of thieves enter through an unlocked door or window, and 34% through the front door. 

Home Safety Burglary

Don’t be the next victim!  Our Pop-A-Lock locksmiths have some professional advice on how to keep your home secure and scare off burglars.

1. Install motion-activated outdoor lights

Burglars don’t want to be seen. If they’re creeping around the outside of your property and they trigger a light, odds are they’ll immediately leave the property in hopes no one sees them. They also may think someone is home inside and turned on the light.

2. Leave the TV on

If you’re out running errands or home alone for the night, it’s a good idea to leave a TV on. This makes it appear as if someone is home and awake, and is a good way to deter potential burglars.

3. Install break proof laminate on windows

Laminated windows seriously slow down burglars. Again, anything that forces them to be on your property for longer will be a deterrent, and if they do stick around their chances of being caught go up.

4. Consider a dog – if you don’t already have one

You don’t need – or want –  a mean dog. But if you have a friendly dog who goes crazy when they see or hear people in the yard, you’ll have a good warning if someone is approaching, and the person outside won’t know whether or not the dog is friendly.

5. Put indoor lights on automatic timers

Allowing your lights to turn on and off – even if you’re not home or asleep – can make it look like you’re home and deter burglars from targeting your house. And if you vary the schedule it will throw them off even more.

6. Vary your schedule

And with the above point, we want to add that varying your schedule in general can deter burglars from targeting your house. If someone is patrolling your neighborhood looking for homes to break into, they likely won’t choose yours if they can’t tell whether or not you’re home at specific times of day.

7. Install a security system

If you’re willing to spend a little more money, installing an indoor or outdoor (or both) security system is a great way to keep an eye on your house and know if a burglar is trying to get in.

8. Always lock your doors and windows

It may seem obvious, but as we mentioned at the beginning of this article, almost 30% of burglars enter homes through an unlocked door or window. Check that all your doors and windows are locked before bed each night, and before you leave the house for any amount of time.

9. Keep your garage closed

A garage is just another entrance to your home for burglars. Always check that it’s closed before you leave the house or go to bed.

10. Make your house look lived in

When you’re out of town or away from your home for any extended period of time, put your mail on hold, schedule someone to come mow the lawn, ask neighbors to park in your driveway occasionally. Anything to make it look lived in and not empty will help ensure burglars don’t target your home.

Approximately 4,800 burglaries happen every day in the US. That’s a startling number. The good news, though, is that there are steps you can take to keep your home and family safe from burglars.

Our locksmithing experts have created a free home security audit. The checklist can help you create a safe environment for you and your family – while you’re home and away.

If you’re interested in re-keying your home or upgrading your home’s locks, contact your local Pop-A-Lock today!

How Can I Increase The Security of My Home?

Feeling safe in your home is a top priority for most people. But how do you get this safety? Taking measures like using a high-end security system to not letting your mailbox overflow can increase home security. Below are eight suggested ways you can increase the security of your home no matter the type of house or budget.

Make it Look Like You’re Home, Even if You’re Not

Most robbers are going to be looking for a house they know is empty. They don’t want an altercation, they want an empty house to ransack and leave. Whether you’re leaving for a vacation or just out for the day, there are a few ways you can make it look like you’re home, even if you’re not.

1. Install Motion-Activated Lights 

Robbers don’t like to be seen. Motion-activated lights can be a great way to scare off someone looking to enter your home. When the lights come on, the thief is at risk of a neighbor seeing them. They also could believe someone is home and turned the lights on from inside.

2. Put Lights on Timers

Having smart light bulbs is a quick and easy way to make someone on the outside believe you’re home. Set the lights on random timers so some are always turned on. That way crooks can’t tell if you’re away running errands or on vacation. They also won’t be able to pick up on any recurring schedules such as being gone for work.

3. Don’t Leave Mail in the Mailbox or Packages on the Porch

An overflowing mailbox or unattended packages are signs to crooks that no one is home. If you’re going away on vacation, ask a neighbor or a friend to empty your mailbox and gather packages while you’re away. Even if you’re only at work or out for the day, ask delivery people to leave packages in a backyard or private area if you can.

Secure Home Mail

4. Trim Your Bushes and Grass

As with the mail and packages, an unkempt yard can be a sign to a crook that you’re not home, and haven’t been in a while. This can make them feel more comfortable scoping out your home and robbing it. On top of that, overflowing bushes and grass can make it easier for thieves to stay out of site from neighbors. It’s best to keep your bushes and grass as tidy and trimmed as possible.

Security Gadgets For Round-The-Clock Safety

In addition to making it look like you’re home when you’re not, there are also security measure you can take to provide safety when you are home. Below are some suggested tips and tools to keep you and your family safe inside your home.

1. Rekey Your Home

There are a lot of ways our house keys can get out in the world. Giving a spare to a neighbor or child off at college, for example. But, sometimes – for whatever reason – someone who once needed a key no longer does. Every once in a while you should rekey your home so you can know exactly who has copies of your key. This also lets you make sure no one has access who you don’t want to have access.

2. Install Smart Locks

A lot of robbers don’t force entry into a house, but instead find one with an unlocked door and walk right in. Installing smart locks that automatically lock behind you will make sure this isn’t an option. It will also stop the dreaded “did I lock the door behind me?” feeling miles down the road.

Pop-A-Lock Smart Locks

3. Have Locks and/or Stops on All Windows:

Many crooks know that most people keep their doors locked these days. But not everyone keeps their windows locked. Installing locks on your windows can help you sleep easy at night knowing every port of entry into the house is inaccessible. There are also window stops, preventing windows from opening more than six inches. This is great for getting some fresh air but keeping unwanted robbers out.

4. Have a Security Camera

If you want to have high security, you can install a security camera outside (or inside) your home. You can also install an alarm that goes off when doors or windows open. A camera will likely frighten away any robbers. It also can give you peace of mind by allowing you to keep an eye on your house when you’re not home. An alarm system will alert both you and the security company if someone enters your home.

Security camera on a home for added security

There are a lot of ways you can increase the security of your home. Whether it be something simple like making sure your mailbox isn’t overflowing, or something bigger like installing smart locks or a security camera. Depending on your budget, the overall safety of your neighborhood, and more, there is a solution out there for you!

Check out our free home security audit and contact one of our professionals today to schedule a visit for your home.