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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.

The Secrets You Need to Know About Hiding Spare Keys

The Secrets You Need to Know About Hiding Spare Keys

spare key outside home

While no one plans on getting locked out of their homes, this unfortunate situation is always a possibility. As such, having a spare key can come in handy, allowing you to skip the panic and hassle of calling a locksmith. But with this added security comes added risk, especially if you plan on hiding  your spare outside your residence. 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. 

Why Spare Keys Help

You never know what could happen in the course of a day. Like any other object, your keys can break, get lost, or — in the worst case — stolen. Whatever the reason, should your keys go missing, it’s great to have a spare set you can easily access to let yourself in. Unfortunately, if you plan on stashing your key somewhere on your property,  burglars and other ne’er do wells now have a way to enter your home too. This raises an important question: where should you hide your spare so only you can find it?

spare key

Don't Be Dumb

If you’ve seen that old key-in-a-plastic-rock routine, so have burglars. Yes, they also know about other spare key hotspots like door-ledges, mailboxes, and  porch lights. Leaving your spare keys 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 less-likely stash spots.

Clever Places to Hide Your Spare

  1. Disguise it: 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 containers include fake drain caps, lawn sprinklers, and even mock electrical outlets. They’re easy to overlook, and would draw quite a lot of suspicion to anyone trying to snoop them out.  
  2. Get experimental: You don’t need to drop money on fake-out key holders to find ingenious hiding spots on your property. This can include any number of places. If you’re confident in your memory, you can stash your key in an empty bottle, bury it in your lawn, and mark the location using a rock that’s unlikely to move. Your door knocker can work too if you glue a magnet to the back and leave enough space to slip your key under. You can even tuck it away in the doghouse. Anything goes, really, as long as you’re thinking of places you’d never look, and then finding ways to store your key there. 
  3. Lockboxes: This may be an obvious method, but it’s perhaps the most secure. Lockboxes are small containers that can only be opened through punching in a code. Real estate agents often attach lockboxes to doorknobs, but you’re better than that. Rather than hanging your container out in the open for all to see, consider stashing it away under a bush, or burying it in a marked spot in your garden.  
  4. Go high: Often, it’s best to keep your spare key someplace out of reach, whether tucked away in a birdhouse, nailed to an inconspicuous part of a tree, or in a noisy bunch of windchimes. It will take a greater deal of effort to retrieve your key from these perches, but it’ll be even more difficult for a thief who doesn’t want to draw attention to themselves. 
  5. Phone a friend: The above methods might be clever, but nothing beats the security of knowing that a close pal has your back. If you have a trusted neighbor or a friend who lives nearby, you can ask them to hold on to your spare, and drop it off to you in case you get locked out. Additionally, if an emergency happens while you’re away, your neighbors would now have a way to enter your home to help mitigate the problem. 
House keys

Your Safety is Our Priority

Everyone deserves to feel secure in their homes, 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.

Why You Need to Rekey Your New Home

Why You Need to Rekey Your New Home


Whether you’re a seasoned homeowner, or you just moved into your first house (congratulations!), there are always concerns about the security of your family, possessions, and property.  What can you do to help ease this stress? To avoid any issues or complications with latent keys that may be floating around without your knowledge, consider rekeying your home.

old locks

Reasons to Rekey Your New Home

  1. Master keys: In many communities, there are master keys which open every lock in the building or neighborhood, and often belong to construction crews or landlords. This means every lock in that community more than likely has master pins left inside the mechanism, so rekeying in that situation can be a useful solution.
  2. Duplicate keys you may not be aware of: Whether your home is previously owned or newly constructed, there is no way to be sure of just how many people have duplicate keys, giving them access to your home. In the case of previously owned homes, there is a chance that previous owners (even their family and friends) still possess duplicate keys. If your home is newly built, contractors and realtors might have duplicate keys.
  3. Construction mishaps: No new home build is perfect. There are bound to be small mistakes or issues that need to be sorted out. When these issues are with your locks, however, there is a concern of safety and security that arises. The best thing to do is call a locksmith and have your locks checked. From there, you can either rekey or replace the lock.
  4. Lock deterioration: For previously owned houses, rekeying the locks is as much an issue of safety as it is restoration. Locks that have been used for significant amounts of time are bound to be worn down, making them function worse than when they were new.
vintage keys

Rekeying vs. Replacing Locks

When a lock is rekeyed, the locksmith will first examine the lock in order to assess any damage and determine if you are better off with a complete replacement. If rekeying is the best solution for you, the locksmith will remove the existing pins and springs (the components that make your locks fit your keys), and replace them with new ones. This means your lock can now fit a new, different key.

That being said, over time, locks can wear and degrade past the point where a rekey is the correct solution. In this situation, your locksmith will advise you that you will require a complete lock replacement. 

Replacing versus rekeying locks depends on your needs. If the locks in your new home are clearly degraded and worn, consider a lock replacement rather than a rekey. If you are happy with the function of the locks themselves, and are more concerned about duplicate keys, rekeying is the solution for you!

indoor comfort

How Pop-A-Lock Can Help

Pop-A-Lock understands that feeling safe and secure in your new home is a top priority for any homeowner. Whether you are in need of an inspection, replacement, or rekeying, we are happy to help. To schedule an appointment with one of our expert locksmiths, call today!

How to Keep Your Home Secure While on Vacation

house key

While reclining in a hammock, tropical drink in hand, the last thing you want to see is your phone lighting up with a notification from your security system or a frantic neighbor, alerting you that your home was broken into. Vacations are your time to unwind and let go — and pesky criminals have no right to drag you back into reality. 

Luckily, there are ways to protect your abode from afar. If you’re aware of how burglars select their targets, you can take the precautions necessary to protect your home from unwanted attention. And when you know there’s nothing to worry about back home, it’s that much easier to relax on your hard-earned getaway.

Facts on burglaries

Break-ins aren’t random: they’re the result of burglars scoping out a property over the course of days or weeks, looking for security gaps or signs of vacancy. It’s no wonder that burglary rates are highest during the summer months when most families leave their homes to go on vacation. After all, an empty home is a vulnerable one. 

As such, burglars look for certain telltale signs of vacancy, including:

  • Unkempt lawns 
  • Empty driveways 
  • Windows left dark for several days 
  • Overstuffed mailboxes and/or packages left sitting in doorways 

If a burglar picks up on any of these hints — and notices that your home lacks a visible outdoor security system — your home is more likely to be targeted with each passing day.  However, there are certain steps you can take to protect against break-ins while on vacation, though it requires some extra planning on top of your usual packing list. 

home intruder

Tips to keep your home safe


  • Lights with timers: Even if you’re thousands of miles away — and plan on being so for several weeks — it’s important to still give your home the appearance of being actively lived-in. Well-lit interiors accomplish this, lending the appearance of someone being inside. 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.
  • Hide valuables: A common error many vacation-goers fall into is leaving their blinds or curtains open while away, effectively giving thieves a sneak-peek to your home’s valuables. To avoid this fatal misstep, be sure to darken your windows and stash any expensive items out of plain view. 
  • Stay off socials: Though it’s tempting to post a “beach vibezzz” snap of your Bhamama vacation unless you want to alert thieves that your house is sitting vacant, it’s best to leave the vacation recap until after you’re home safe. This is especially true if your profile handles use your full name: just like everything in life is now digital, modern thieves have taken to the internet to scope out the whereabouts of their potential targets. Your followers might be closer than you think. 
  • Lock up: This might seem obvious, but it doesn’t hurt to double-check every door, pet door, and window before leaving on vacation. In one survey, 56% of burglars said they entered a residence through the front or back doors, while 22% said they entered through a first-story window. Based on this information, it’s safe to assume that many households leave their doors unlocked out of forgetfulness


  • Keep the lawn tidy: As mentioned above, signs of negligence are the biggest giveaways of home vacancy. Your overgrown shrubs, unruly lawn, and wilting hydrangeas all reveal that no one has been around to tend to them for a while. If you’re only leaving for a short trip, consider mowing your grass and trimming up before you leave. But if your trip spans several weeks, it might be best to call on a good buddy or a close neighbor to care for your lawn in your absence. 
  • Take your spare key: Since thieves know all the common hiding spots for spare keys — doormats, potted plants, fake rocks — it’s strongly recommended you either take your spare key with you on vacation or hide it in a secure location inside. However, if you worry the little guy may get lost in the scramble to move luggage from one hotel to another, you could opt for a clever, nondescript stash spot like this
  • Hide mail and packages: Just like unkempt lawns can signal an absence, overflowing mailboxes, and unclaimed packages can show that no one has been around long enough to claim them. As such, it’s probably best to hit up that neighbor once again or have your local post office put a hold on your deliveries until you return.
  • Security camera system: 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.
  • Light your home’s exterior: Finally, just as you should keep your home’s interior well-lit, you should keep the surrounding yard lit with outdoor lights as well. Not only does this give your home the appearance of frequent activity, but it also shines a light on potential dark spots, making it all the more difficult for ne’er do wells to hide.
house with lights on

Pop-A-Lock Holds the Key to Security

If you’re still concerned about your home’s safety, or you don’t know where to look for potential weak-spots, Pop-A-Lock’s security experts are here to help. Check out our free security audit checklist to assess your home’s security level on your own, or call to get a free quote on lock repair or installation!