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How You Need to Layer Up With Home Security This Winter

A house blanketed in snow.

The arrival of another chilly winter season often means one of two things: staying inside and getting cozy, or traveling (whether it be to see family for the holidays or going on vacation), leaving your home unattended. Regardless of which of these applies to you, it is crucial to take a few extra steps to layer up with home security in the winter time.

Not sure how to do that? Luckily for you, your local Pop-A-Lock experts have some helpful tips on how to stay safe and secure this holiday season.

Three people's sock-clad feet held out to the fireplace.

Your Security System

If you’ve just moved into a new home, or there is a different reason that you don’t yet have a security system, consider investing in one. This is especially crucial if you are planning to leave town for the holiday season, as you will not be able to respond immediately if something were to happen. Installing a security system that fits your home and its needs is the first step to ensuring your peace of mind, whether you are staying in or getting out this winter.

In addition to simply having one, there are extra steps you can take to increase the effectiveness of your alarm system:

  • Glass break sensors: These sensors monitor for the sound of glass breaking. These can be especially helpful if  your home has a lot of windows, or if there are several windows that are prone to break-ins (close to the ground, in a hidden area).
  • Open/close sensors: Not only are these handy to remind you when you’ve left a window open, they can also alert you to unusual openings and closings of windows and doors.
  • Security signs and stickers: Burglars may be deterred by the presence of a security sign or sticker on the windows.
  • Security cameras and doorbells: Many smart doorbells come with a motion-detecting camera. These doorbells and additional outdoor security cameras can be useful to let you know when someone unwanted is poking around outside.
  • Electronic locks: The key benefit of electronic locks is that they can be locked and unlocked from afar, allowing you to check and double check (maybe even triple check) whether a door is locked or not from a greater distance and without having to walk to the door inside the home.

Speaking of outdoor security cameras, there are several other things you can do to protect the outside of your home this winter.

Person taking the cover off of a motion detector showing the circuit board inside.

The Outdoors

The area around your property, such as the back and front yard, side yards, garages, or natural areas (forests and bodies of water) is just as important to keep an eye on as the inside of the home. As previously mentioned, security cameras are the first step to securing the outside of the home. Here are a few more things you can do:

  • Lights, lights, lights: There is almost no use for security camera systems if you cannot see what is happening on the video footage. Lights can also deter burglars, since entering a home that is well-lit is a deterrent.
  • Keep the exterior clean: If a home has snow build-up or an overgrown lawn, it will seem as though the home is not lived in. Intruders are more likely to want to enter a home if it seems as if the owners will not be back for a while.
  • Secure gates and fences:  If there is a gate in your back or front yard, secure it with a lock. Additionally, you can protect your yards or gardens by making it more difficult to climb the fences. This can be done by either making your fences taller, or adding obstacles (such as spikes) to the tops of fence posts.

Don’t forget the garage: The garage is also a vulnerable entrance point for intruders. If you tend to keep the garage open, consider installing a security camera inside the garage or simply closing it when nobody is home.

Two floodlights on a brick wall.

Inside the Home

Though installing a security system and securing the outside of the home seem like good enough precautions for home security, you cannot forget the actual home. All of your belongings, furniture, electronics, and even family heirlooms are at risk when you leave your home for long periods of time. Here are some things to think about when layering up with indoor home security:

  • Lock up small valuables: Valuable items such as jewelry should be hidden away, even locked in an inconspicuous drawer somewhere in the home. This is where it is important to think like a burglar; where is the last place they would think to check?
  • Invest in a safe: Important documents such as birth certificates and passports, as well as firearms and medications, should be kept in a locked safe that is bolted to the floor. If the safe is not bolted down, it still runs the risk of being carried out of the home.

Prepare a bright surprise: Motion sensor lights can be useful inside of the home as well as the outside. Intruders are likely to be startled by a light turning on in a room in a home they thought was empty.

Conclusion

Pop-A-Lock’s main goal is our customers’ security. If that means installing, inspecting, or repairing an alarm system or camera system, give us a call, we’ve got you covered. We want you to have the peace of mind you deserve this winter, no matter where you are.

The Top 10 Locks We Recommend for Your House

Hand holding a phone up to a smart lock.

Your home is the place for everything. A place to kick off your shoes after a long day of work and relax in front of the TV. It is a place to raise your kids and watch them grow. Home is for the holidays; a place to gather and share stories. Don’t let a faulty door lock keep your home from experiencing these moments. We want you and your household to feel safe during the day and at night. That is why we compiled a list of our top 10 favorite locks for household security. Find the lock that’s perfect for you!

Best Standard Door Lock

Yale Premier Single Cylinder YH82

  • Strong strike plate design 
  • Resistant to kick-ins
  • Tough to pick and drill through the cylinder

Best High-security Door Lock

Medeco Maxum 11*603

  • Strongest deadbolt ever
  • Excellent for drilling
  • Withstands kick-ins
  • Uses hardened steel inserts and rotating pins so it is hard to pick 
  • Provides protection against unauthorized key duplication
  • Lifetime warranty on its internal mechanism and its finish

Best Electronic Door Lock

Schlage Touch Keyless FE375 CAM

  • Electronic deadbolt
  • Hard to pick
  • Withstands drills and kick-ins
  • Smart keypad lock
  • Does not connect to the internet or smartphone 
  • 25-year warranty on its internal mechanism and a five-year warranty on its finish

Best Smart Lock

Yale Assure Lock SL 

  • August’s smart lock app and platform 
  • Remote controlled 
  • Access log 
  • Voice control (via Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit/Siri, and Google Assistant) 
  • Electronic keys 
  • Door open/close sensor 
  • Resists drilling, picking, and kick-ins

Best For Built-in Wi-fi

August Wi-Fi Smart Lock

  • Compact frame
  • Compatibility with Apple HomeKit/Siri and Z-Wave Plus smart home hubs to control your door
  • Remotely lock or unlock the door, check door status, and grant virtual guest keys
  • Built-in Wi-Fi so no additional Wi-Fi bridge 
  • Phone or watch is your key 
  • Easy to install and attaches to your existing deadbolt
  • Automatically locks and unlocks your door through geo-fencing 
  • Need the August Connect WiFi adapter, $79, to get access to all of the lock’s features.

Best For Voice Control

Schlage Sense Bluetooth

  • Deadbolt lock lets you:
    • Lock and unlock your doors via phone
    • Program access codes
    • Set up access schedules
  • Voice-activated Siri controls
  • Can’t access the lock from beyond the range of its Bluetooth radio unless you have an Apple TV

Best For Nest Users

Nest X Yale Lock With Nest Connect

  • Sharp-looking smart door lock 
  • Combines Yale reliability with Nest IoT home connectivity
  • Extended battery life
  • Nest Detect sensors can be placed farther apart in the home
  • Keyless, with a touchpad for entry by pin code
  • Set up to 20 pin codes for different individuals
  • Get notified when five incorrect pin attempts

Best Keyless Entry Lock

Schlage Touch Camelot Deadbolt

  • Compatibility with your home automation system
  • Manage the lock from anywhere on your smartphone 
  • Highest industry ratings for residential security and durability 
  • Stores up to 30 unique access codes
  • Fingerprint resistant 
  • Three built in alarms 
  • Three-year electronics warranty and lifetime warranty on its finish and mechanics

Best Deadbolt

High security Mul-T-Lock

  • Best resistance to bumping, picking, and forced entry techniques
  • Forged with strong materials including hardened steel and use patented technology
  • Two interlocking ball bearings which increase jimmying resistance
  • Increases the effectiveness of your existing door hardware
  • Only authorized Mul-T-Lock dealers can create Mul-T-Lock keys
  • Available in single, double, and captive key designs

Best Smart Lock For Apartments

August Smart Locks

  • Easy install with no hardware changes
  • Share virtual keys easily 
  • Control & track guest access with the app
  • Control front from anywhere with your phone
  • Door sensor telling when you door isn’t secure 
  • Smart alerts to notify you about comings, goings, and changes in door status

Pop-A-Lock Is Here To Help

We place utmost importance on keeping our customers safe in their own homes. Pop-A-Lock is here to help. Don’t put your safety and security at risk – let a trained professional install or repair your locks correctly at minimal time and cost. Give us a call today!

How To Stop Your Home From Attracting Burglars

French bulldog in a sheet with eye, snout, and ear holes.

Halloween is right around the corner, bearing with it the typical abundance of pumpkins, tacky yard-inflatables, and trick-or treaters. But buried in the heightened fright of the spookiest season lies a true threat — burglars. We don’t mean to be Debbie-downers, but crooks see the costumes and increased foot-traffic as a great distraction, and the faux-cemetery in your lawn as the perfect hiding spot. Luckily, there are several preventative measures you can take to ensure your home is as formidable as ever, so you can take your mind off thieves and get back to worrying about how much candy you’ve eaten.

Burglars Look for These Signs

According to the FBI, a home is burglarized every 26 seconds in the U.S. But thieves don’t select their targets at random: they look for signs that your security is compromised. Here’s a list of tell-tale signs that a home is ripe for burglary.

 

Unkempt lawns: Burglars are always on the look-out for additional cover and signs that a home is sitting vacant. Typically, unkempt lawns indicate that you’ve been gone for an extended period, making it obvious that your home is unguarded. Overgrown hedges and tall grass also make for perfect cover, as thieves can easily duck out of sight or shield their presence as they break in. Though messy lawns are eye-sores for the whole neighborhood, nothing is more attractive to a thief.

Dark home: Darkened windows or doorways signal that you’re either asleep of away from home. Since most burglaries occur in 8-12 minutes, thieves have a very narrow window and thus look to strike when it’s the least likely they’ll be apprehended.

Negligence: Home burglaries are always higher during summer months since thieves know most families are away on vacation. As mentioned earlier, signs of negligence such as an unkept lawn are dead giveaways that you won’t be home any time soon. Overstuffed mailboxes or packages left sitting in a doorway also indicate that no one is checking on your house — making these items easy targets as well. Additionally, if a thief suspects that you’re away from home, they’ll likely look for a spare key before attempting more destructive break-in methods. If you’re also negligent in hiding your spare — hiding it in obvious spots, such as under a mat or in a flowerpot — breaking-in is made all the more easy.

Expensive items on display: After going through all the trouble of breaking in, no thief wants to leave empty-handed. As such, they choose to target homes they know have expensive items. Whether it be a flat-screen TV, china cabinet, or expensive jewelry, leaving your valuables near high-visibility areas . Leaving your curtains open for extended periods is dangerous as well, since thieves need only to peer inside to get a sneak-peek of their potential score.

Opened doors: This is perhaps the most obvious sign, but leaving a door or window open by mistake can serve to attack thieves that would otherwise leave your house undisturbed. Opened garages are targets as well, since it’s likely that the door inside the garage is less secure than your front door.

The outside of a large house at night.

Take the Target Off Your Home

Security cameras: You may have a high-tech alarm system within your home (and, in our opinion, most homes should!) but nothing stops a thief in their tracks more than an outdoor security camera. Cameras not only record evidence and signal that your residence is under watchful surveillance, but also alert you to any potential disturbance.

Guard dog: This might seem a little barbarian, but having a loud, imposing dog that barks every time someone approaches your home actually helps deter thieves. According to a survey, 34% of convicted burglars stated that hearing or seeing a dog would turn them away from a home they were considering breaking into. But be warned — dogs require a lot of care, so buying one for security purposes alone is never a good idea. That being said, these watchful guards make for loving pets.

High visibility: Mow that grass and trim up those shrubs: a clean lawn means burglars have no place to hide, and indicate that someone’s been attending to your home. If you plan on being away for an extended vacation, it’s usually good to employ the help of a friend or neighbor in keeping your lawn clean and removing any packages that arrive while you’re away.

Lights with timers: To give the appearance of being home at all times, it’s best to leave a couple lights on. But you don’t need to worry about skyrocketing electric bills when securing your home: leaving the same lights on at all times can indicate absence too. In reality, it’s best to plug your lights into an automatic timer. These devices are cheap and can be purchased online — just be sure to set the timer to “random” so thieves can’t detect a pattern.

Close up, lock up: In the survey mentioned above, 56% of burglars said they entered a residence through the front or back doors, while another 22% said they entered through a first-story window. Based on this information, it’s best to make a habit of locking up behind you every time you go back inside, and to do a lock-check of every door and window before you leave home or go to bed. Along with this, you should be sure to hide valuables out of plain view, and close your blinds or curtains as well.

Grass with an eerie mist above it.

Locksmiths Know Security

If you’re still unsure of your home’s security level, Pop-A-Lock is here to help. With our residential security audit, we’ll check your home and property for potential blind spots, and advise you on how to beef-up your security measures. Check out our website for more handy tips and info about our services.

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.

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.

How To Accommodate Your Business to Your Furry Friends

How To Accommodate Your Business to Your Furry Friends

pet door

Preparing for Fido

There are several benefits of being a pet-friendly workplace including a higher sense of company loyalty among employees, decreased stress levels, and a friendlier workplace. But, there are some key points employers have to consider in order to ensure a smooth transition. The first step on this journey is to ask all employees about their thoughts on working in a pet-friendly office. Some individuals might have allergies or may not feel comfortable around dogs and cats. So, gauging a general feel for how pets might be accepted is a critical place to start. If everyone is on board, the next step is establishing a solid pet policy so the entire team is up to speed on the rules and expectations. Next, employees should thoroughly pet-proof the office to make sure everyone’s furry friends are safe and secure. From hiding electrical cords to improving the office security system, there is a plethora of adjustments that should be made to best accommodate furry and non-furry workers. While there is some preparation involved, taking the time to check all of these boxes will ensure everyone can reap the benefits of working in a pet-friendly environment. 

pet costume

Establishing a Pet Policy

After getting approval from the management team and employee support, establishing a comprehensive pet policy is a must to avoid potential conflict and confusion. There are several samples of these online, however, it might be most beneficial for employers and employees to collaborate on one as a team in order for everyone’s needs to be met. Some important points to include would be providing proof of vaccinations and spay or neutering procedures, whether or not the dog has completed obedience training, basic behavioral standards, and a list of appropriate areas for your pets to relieve themselves. While this is not an extensive list, these points are a solid starting point to ensure total accountability. To avoid potential liability issues, employers should develop a list of non-tolerated behaviors and consequences in the case they occur, such as biting or excessive barking. In the case of service or emotional support animals, requesting for these essential animals to be brought into the workplace should be treated as any other accommodation. Additionally, employers might also want to consider offering a pet insurance plan to pet parents. While not everyone will need it, offering this benefit makes working for the company all the more valuable.

pet thru door

Safe and Sound: Creating a Secure, Pet-friendly Environment

Pet-proofing can be done in a variety of ways according to the needs and budget of the office. By checking this step off of the prep list, the office space can stay damage-free and several safety hazards and accidents can be avoided.  Covering electrical outlets, hiding cords, and toxic cleaning supplies are the most essential ways to pet-proof the space. Pet owners should also consider purchasing baby gates or crates to contain their dogs and cats to keep them from roaming around the office unattended, keeping accidents at a minimum and peace at a maximum. Pet food and supplies should be kept in a locked cabinet or container to remain secure after hours. If you are considering expanding your office space to include a separate pet-free zone for those who do not want to be disturbed or are allergic to pets, consider making a new set of keys for everyone in the office to access the space when desired. If your office is in need of a security system update, why not contact your local Pop-A-Lock professionals and ask for a new video surveillance system. Not only will this enhance your security but it can also lower insurance premiums.

pet human door

Release the Hounds

After putting together a pet policy and pet-proofing your space, it’s time to get excited for mid-day head scratches and rounds of fetch. When bringing animals into new environments it is essential for all employees to take time to set their pets up for success. Setting aside time for lunch and potty breaks will help keep you and your pets happy for the whole workday. Because some accidents are bound to happen, be sure to clean up any and all messes your pet makes to keep your space fresh. Also, when it’s time to pack up for the day, pick up all water and food bowls to keep pests away.  By following these simple steps, employees and their furry friends are bound to be set for success.

Which Doors in My Home Should Have a Lock?

Which Doors in My Home Should Have a Lock?

doors with locks

Though door locks seem like a given in most households, many inside doors come without locks, and the level of lock security required varies depending on the location of the door. Read on to learn about what doors require locks in your household!

Doors that Require Locks

Front and Back Doors

How are thieves entering your home? The answer may surprise you. They aren’t sneaking down the chimney or creeping in through your basement window; most of them simply walk right up to your door and smash their way through it.

It may be hard to believe, but the stats back it up:

  • 34% of burglars break in through the front door
  • 22% gain entry using the back door
  • 9% get in via the garage

In short: 65% of burglaries involve a criminal being able to defeat your front door security. As such, it’s crucial to have a high-security lock on your front and back doors. 

Bedroom Doors

Many new parents wonder if their children need locks on their bedroom doors. Once your kids are older, they will want privacy, but a locked door could be a safety issue when they’re younger. For this reason, consider installing a handle with no lock until your child expresses they want a locking door.

When installing a lock on your child’s door, ensure it is a “privacy lock.” These locks do not require a key to open and generally allow a way for them to be opened from the outside with minimal effort. This will afford minor privacy desired but also make access possible in case of an emergency.

Important Cabinets and Drawers 

Every household is also home to myriad commonplace hazards: the cleaning chemicals we keep under the sink, the nail polish remover in your bathroom cabinet, that drawer filled with small knick-knacks. From the perspective of a toddler or dog, these holding spots seem mysterious and fun — but their contents can be lethal. If you live with small children or pets, it’s important to think of their safety first and secure every door, cabinet, and drawer that contains items that can be dangerous. As a general rule, this includes cleaning supplies, hygiene products, alcohol, batteries, coins, knives, and other sharp objects. Really anything that would be hazardous if swallowed.  To secure these spaces, consider adding a simple baby-proof lock or a deadbolt lock that requires a key to those doors leading outside that toddlers or pets can easily open. 

Pet Doors

Unfortunately for pet owners, your pet door is convenient access to the home for more than just your cat or dog. To potential burglars, this door is also an opportunity to access the home. They might not fit through the door itself, of course, but they can stick their heads through to get a better understanding of the space, fit tools through the gap, or even widen the door without too much trouble. As such, it’s important to purchase a pet door with a built-in electronic lock, or one with its own security monitoring system. 

Ask a Locksmith

If you’re still unsure if certain doors within your home require locks, that’s perfectly fine! Just call up one of the expert locksmiths at Pop-A-Lock. We’ll answer all of your security questions and work with your family to solve any gaps in safety. 

High Theft Seasons You Need to Watch Out For

High Theft Seasons You Need to Watch Out For

As summer rapidly approaches, most of us are too busy making plans and packing to think of the home we’re leaving behind as sitting targets.  Burglary, like any other crime, follows patterns and fluctuates depending on seasonal trends. If you’re aware of these facts, you’ll be able to secure your home well in advance and truly kick-back during your hard-earned summer getaway.

Facts on Burglary

According to the FBI, a burglary takes place every 26 seconds in America, adding up to over 3,300 burglaries per day. This statistic may be small in comparison to the number of households in America, but it’s significant, and the financial costs of a break-in can be staggering. On average, households experience a $2,799 loss from burglaries according to a survey from Safewise. 

 On top of recovering from financial setbacks, burglary victims experience a deep emotional toll as well, mourning both the loss of treasured valuables and the security they had before the home invasion. 63% of respondents said they had trouble sleeping after the burglary.

 These facts are hardly surprising, but one statistic defies common logic. When we picture a burglary, we imagine a pair of thieves sneaking in under the cover of darkness. However, this isn’t the case: a 2018 FBI burglary report showed that 51% of burglaries occur during daytime hours, compared to only 32% at night.

Seasonal Changes

Now that you know the basic stats on burglary, let’s talk seasonality:

  • A report from the U.S. Department of Justice showed that from 1993 to 2010, on average, burglary rates were highest in the summer, with about 9% lower rates in spring, 6% lower in fall, and 11% lower in winter.
  • This difference is so staggering, a Safewise survey found that more people are burglarized in June than any other month, regardless of year.

 This isn’t by chance: burglars know most families take vacations during the summer. If your home displays signs of extended absence — unkempt lawns, overstuffed mailboxes, dark windows — it’s likely to catch a thief’s eye. And, since you’re away, they’ll also have more time to scope out your property unnoticed and plot their break-in.

 Although summer is the prime break-in season, law enforcement officials nationwide also report burglary upticks during winter months. In some states, December is even the peak month for burglaries overall.

 Once again, criminals know most families take off for Christmas vacation during this time — leaving behind a treasure trove of presents. Similar to the overgrown summer lawns, winter storms can leave behind snowdrifts. If the snow sits untouched for several days, it’ll be pretty obvious you aren’t home. What’s more, if you leave behind a trash bin stuffed with wrapping paper and boxes, burglars can pursue your new Christmas gifts and decide what to steal before even breaking a window. 

How to protect your home

Though criminals are almost certainly passing through neighborhoods more during vacation months than any other season, there’s no need to fret. Follow these tips to shore up your defenses and keep burglars at bay.

  • Home care: Like we said above, burglars target homes that look uncared for. Whether you’re going on vacation or not, it’s important that you keep your home looking tidy and lived-in, especially during peak break-in periods. This means regularly mowing your lawn, pruning hedges, and keeping a light or two on at all times. You can do this last bit no matter how far away you are from home: just plug your lamps into a simple timer and set it to random. The lights will turn off and on at different intervals, giving the appearance of someone always being home. 
  • Help from neighbors: If you have a trusted neighbor or friend who lives nearby, you can ask them to monitor and tend to your home while you’re away. Depending on your closeness, you can have them care for your lawn, collect mail, and do regular check-ins to make sure everything is ok on the inside of your home.
  • Security system: In general, burglars steer clear of homes with security systems in search of easier targets. If you’re looking for a way to really beef up your home’s defense, this is the move. Most alarm systems with 24/7 professional monitoring for far less than the average break-in cost (some even go as low as $200), and can be installed by the homeowner. If you want to go the extra mile, install a security camera in a highly visible location like beside your front door. Security cameras are fantastic at stopping thieves in their tracks, and allow you to monitor your home from anywhere.
  • High-security locks: No matter how well-guarded and cared for your house is, nothing beats the protection of a good lock. Though the locks that come standard with a home or apartment usually aren’t the most secure, they’re easy to fix. A locksmith can swap out your old, single-cylinder lock for one with pick-proof protection, or install a deadbolt for good measure.
  • Think before you post: Burglars look for patterns of behavior, sometimes stalking the homeowners of their target house for weeks in advance. Don’t help them out by posting your whereabouts online. If a burglar knows your name, they can easily find your social media, and search for signs that you’re away from home. Posting vacation plans, location-tagged photos, or the scenic view from your getaway spot serve as dead-giveaways. Posting about your life is fine, just leave out the specifics.

Pop-A-Lock can keep you safe

At Pop-A-Lock, we’re in the business of keeping things safe. If you’re unsure of your home’s security, or looking for ways to patch up any weak spots, Pop-A-Lock’s expert technicians are here to help. Call or visit our website to learn more about our residential security audits.

How to Hide Your Spare Keys, the Clever Way

How to Hide Your Spare Keys, the Clever Way

key under doormat

No one plans on getting locked out of their homes, but anything can happen in the course of a busy day: keys can get lost, broken, or — in the worst case — stolen. Whatever the reason, the annoyance of losing your trusted key can turn to panic if it’s your only way back inside. To avoid calling a locksmith or that friend who’s bailed you out too many times, it helps to keep a spare key on the premises as a backup. But with added security comes added risk, especially if you plan on hiding your spare outside. With some careful planning, however, you can rest assured that your spare key is kept secret, and you’ll always have a fail-safe way to enter your home. 

Does Secrecy Matter?

If you think a half-inch doormat is going to thwart a burglar, think again. These criminals are experts on residential habits — they reside somewhere too, after all — and know all the commonplace hiding spots for spare keys. Since obtaining a spare means easy entry for burglars, they’ll thoroughly scan front yards when selecting targets, searching for tell-tale signs of hidden keys. Homeowners should be on high alert: dropping your spares in obvious spaces leaves you vulnerable to robbery, so if you’re going to outsmart a crook, you’ll need to look beyond doormats and flowerpots, and on to covert stash-spots. 

dropped keys

Top 5 Key Storage Devices

While fake rocks are cliche and obvious, fear not: you can still hide your key on your property through an assortment of discreet and innovative key-holders disguised as common lawn equipment. Typically found online, these holders run anywhere from $5 – $20 — proof you don’t need to break the bank to beef up your home’s security. 

  1. Faux Electrical Outlet:
  2. Sprinkler:
  3. Drain Cap:
  4. Garden Accessories:
  5. Lockbox:
key hiding places

Top 5 On-Property Hiding Locales

You don’t need to drop money on fake-out key holders to keep your spares safe. Your lawn and its surrounding fixtures contain a plethora of nooks and crannies fit for a key. 

  1. Bottle Method:
  2. Door Knocker:
  3. The Smaller House(s):
  4. License Plate:
  5. Tree:
garden space

Your Safety is Our Priority

Everyone deserves to feel secure in their home, and Pop-A-Lock believes in informing homeowners of any and all measures they can take to ensure their safety. Hiding a spare key is a good first-step, but if you’re in need of a little extra reassurance, call to speak with one of our expert locksmiths, or check out our website to learn more about our rekeying, lock repair, and installation services.