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Bike Safety: Security and Storage Tips and Tricks

Making Your Bike Theft-Proof

bike tire assembly

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

Bike Security

prepared with bike lock

Types of Bike Locks

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

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

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

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

bikes locked up

Lock Your Bike Like a Pro

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

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

Bike Storage

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

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

bike lock

Pop-A-Lock is Here to Help

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

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

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.

The Best Outdoor Security Camera Systems

The Best Outdoor Security Camera Systems

installing camera

As a homeowner, installing a top-notch outdoor security system is an investment in both your property and peace of mind. With these nifty devices, no matter where you are, you’ll have round the clock visibility of your home’s perimeter, allowing you to spot suspicious activity before it becomes a problem. Sometimes, the presence of a security camera alone can be enough to ward off potential intruders! That said, let’s dive into today’s top security camera systems.

Differences in Security Camera Systems

Although all high-end security camera systems on today’s market perform the vital function of video surveillance, the quality and complexity of this ability varies between products. When choosing your home’s techno watchdog, it helps to keep a list of key features to guide your search, including:

  • Video Quality: If all your images appear as fuzzy dots, what’s the point of having a security camera anyway? Even if you only intend to install a camera as a cautionary measure, it’s important all images the system captures render at a high enough quality to alert you to potential mischief or — in the worst case — to be used as viable evidence in the incident of a home invasion. Since security cameras function on the same pixel technology as video cameras, it’s important to select a system with high resolution. Generally, 4 MP or 1080p resolution is high enough to record clear images with obscured details, while 5 MP is the gold standard.
  • Power Source: Like all electronics, security cameras need to derive their power from somewhere. At the moment, there are three types of power sources for wireless cameras: solar powered, plug-in cable, and battery powered. 
  • Installation: Most cameras can be installed simply with a screwdriver. The complicated part is deciding where the best place to install it is.
  • Storage: There are two ways you can store your camera’s video footage: local or cloud. With local storage, you will store the footage on a microSD card or a USB drive and want to make sure it is easily accessible in time of need. Most people prefer this method because it is both convenient and private. With cloud storage, you can view the footage from anywhere through your phone or any other electronic device that has the app.
camera styles
security camera

Stay Secure with Pop-A-Lock

If you’re still on the fence about installing an outdoor security camera system, let Pop-A-Lock  clear up your doubts with our residential security audit. We’ll scour your property in search of security blind spots, and advise you on how to beef up your defenses. Or, if you prefer to poke around for yourself, download our free home security audit checklist today!

How to Know if Your Hotel Room is Secure

How to Know if Your Hotel Room is Secure

Hotel room door key

Traveling is a fun adventure for some, stressful for others. However, the one thing all travelers have in common is wanting their temporary home to feel like a safe space in an unfamiliar place. But how can you know for sure that your hotel room is secure? Pop-A-Lock is here to give you a few helpful tips!

Hotel door smart keys

Booking

How should I book? Ensuring your safety while traveling starts when you are booking a hotel. Experts say it is better to book online, thereby avoiding the need to give out sensitive information over the counter where it’s possible it will be overheard by strangers.

How do I keep my information safe? When you do get to the hotel, it may be helpful to be extra cautious even when interacting directly with the concierge. Try writing down your information and handing it to the concierge instead of speaking it out loud. This tip can be especially helpful for solo female travelers as it can deter someone from trying to follow you to your room.

What floor is best to book? You may also want to avoid booking rooms on the ground floor, as they are more vulnerable to break-ins from the outside. It is also best to book rooms between floors two and six; in case of a fire, rescue ladders can typically reach up to the sixth floor of a hotel.

What about hotel amenities? Try to steer clear of rooms near ice/vending machines. These rooms can be more noisy since there will be greater foot traffic in the area, and criminals are known to frequent the dark and secluded corners of these areas. Floors with conference or meeting rooms should also be avoided, since there is an increased number of people who are not staying at the hotel walking around.

hotel booking online

The Room

Once you are safely in your hotel room, it is time to do a security sweep of the space. There are a few things you should check, and a few extra precautions you might want to take:

  • Check hiding places: The first thing you should do when you get into the room is keep the door open while you check every part of the room where someone could be hiding. This includes areas like showers, closets, and behind curtains. Once you are certain that nobody else is in the room with you, close and lock the door.
  • Safes: There is much discourse about whether the provided safes are reliable places to store important documents, such as passports, flight tickets, and money. Some say that the hotel safes are your best bet for securing your belongings, while others recommend bringing an extra layer of security in the form of a portable safe or portable travel lock. Below you can find links to a few recommended products for this kind of security:
  • Locks: Check all locks to ensure that each one is working properly. This includes the deadbolt on the hotel room door, the safe, and any lockable cabinets or drawers that you may want to use during your stay.
  • Doors and windows: Check any door that connects to another room and make sure that it is locked. Check all windows and make sure they are locked. If you want to keep a window open, see if there is any way for someone to get inside the room using that window. If your room has a balcony, can somebody get onto your balcony from the balcony of a neighboring room?
Hotel Mornings

Do’s and Don’ts

After you’ve safely checked in, gotten to your room, and taken a look around, it is crucial to keep in mind that you need to be looking out for your own safety throughout the entire stay. Here’s a list of some do’s and don’ts for your hotel stay:

Do:

Keep a hand on your luggage at all times. When carrying luggage through a hotel lobby, be wary of where it is in relation to you. Try to keep it in front of or next to you, or give it to someone you are with so they can keep an eye on it.

Use doorstops. Placing a doorstop under the door to keep it closed is an important safety step, especially at night.

Make it look as if you are in your room, always. Even when you are not there, making it look like you are can deter intruders from trying to come inside. A few ways to do this include:

  • Leaving the TV on just loud enough to where it can be heard through the door.
  • Leave the Do Not Disturb sign on the door (timing is a factor here, since this may interfere with housekeeping)
  • Leave a light on. This is especially important when you are going out and expecting to be back only after the sun has set.

Know your emergency exit plan. Whether you ask the concierge for a map, or scout out your emergency exit plan for yourself, it is good to know where to go in an unfamiliar setting if there were ever an emergency.

Don’t:

Connect to hotel Wi-Fi without a VPN. Like coffee shops or airport Wi-Fi networks, hotel networks are public, and therefore prone to hackers. If you are planning on connecting to your hotel’s Wi-Fi network, be sure to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN).

Give anyone personal information over the phone. There have been several instances of criminals calling into the hotel and asking to be patched through to a specific room. They will then speak to you and tell you that your card was declined, invalid, or otherwise not charged. They will ask for your card number, effectively stealing that information from you. To avoid this, tell whoever is calling that you will come to the front and speak to them directly.

Prop the door open. Ever. If you are traveling with friends or family and staying in separate rooms, it is not smart to prop or leave doors open for easier access. This can be seen as an open invitation for intruders and burglars to come in and rummage through your belongings. Rather than propping the door open, ask for additional copies of room key cards so everyone you’re with can access each room with ease.

Conclusion

Your safety while traveling is an important factor that can influence your entire trip. Protecting your personal information, checking every part of your hotel room, and keeping belongings and personal data secure are crucial steps to ensuring your peace of mind. Be sure to follow these helpful tips and tricks next time you are on the road or on vacation!

5 Signs Your Lock Might Need to be Replaced

5 Signs Your Lock Might Need to be Replaced

We depend on our locks daily. The motions of turning our keys or flipping the deadbolt switch behind us are so  route, we probably don’t think about it at all.  We simply expect our doors to lock securely. But like any other piece of hardware, locks are susceptible to damage and erode over time. To not risk compromising your home’s security, check up on your locks every now and then — they may need a little care, especially if they display any of the following warning signs.

5 Signs That Lock Needs To Go

1. Damaged or malfunctioning

This is perhaps the most obvious — and urgent — sign your lock needs to be replaced. If your lock is damaged in any way, you may experience issues turning the key or, in the worst case, the door may fail to lock or open entirely. If this happens with your door even once, it’s best to be proactive and look into replacement options before you risk a complete lock-out.

2. Wear and tear

Despite what our kitchen appliances may think, locks are probably the pieces of household hardware that see the most daily use. But because we’re constantly locking and unlocking our doors, the locks themselves are subjected to more wear, making them more likely to break down over time. This is especially true if your locks came with your home or apartment, since it’s difficult to tell how old they are, or if previous owners used excessive force on the lock. Exterior locks can also deteriorate as a result of being subjected to the natural elements. When locks begin to rust, they weaken from the inside, making for a difficult lock-up but an easy break-in.

3. New home or apartment

Whenever you’re moving  into a  home or apartment, replacing the old, pre-existing locks is the first step to shoring up your security. In most cases, property managers and landlords will not change out locks that are still in working condition, regardless of whether these locks have served multiple homeowners or renters.  This poses a potential security risk since previous  owners or renters may still have keys in their possession, in addition to any friends or family members they made key copies for. It’s unlikely that any of these people are ill-intentioned, but prevent any chance of a seamless break-in, it’s best to replace these old locks with new ones.

4. Recent break-in

 If you or someone in your neighborhood or apartment complex has been the victim of a recent break-in, it’s almost imperative that you get your locks replaced. If the burglar entered using brute force, it’s likely that the door or  locking mechanism is now damaged, making it all the more likely that it won’t shut or lock properly. However, if the burglar entered by picking the lock or using a poorly-hidden spare key, two things are almost certain: your locks are not secure enough, and criminals are likely to target you again. Replacing the lock is the remedy for both issues. 

5. Security changes

Often, you need to turn outward to properly assess whether or not you need a new lock. A single-cylinder lock may have served you well in the past, but if you notice a decline in the security of your neighborhood, it’s time to consider ditching your old locks for something more secure. Strings of break-ins, increased reports of violence, and vandalism are all common signs that your neighborhood is becoming less safe. When crime moves into your area, homes with weak defenses and mass-produced locks are often targeted first.

We’ll handle those locks

At Pop-A-Lock, our team of locksmiths are experts on lock replacement, ready to tackle your security needs. Just give us a call to chat about safety concerns, or to get a quote on replacing your lock. Whatever your needs, if there’s a lock involved, we’re the ones for the job.

From Our Lock Experts: How to Organize Combinations and Passwords

From Our Lock Experts: How to Organize Combinations and Passwords

multiple passwords online

Living in the 21st century means everything is online. And with the increase of information (especially of the personal nature) going onto the Web, there must be an increase in security on your end. Restricting access to your personal information and profiles is key to protecting your identity on the Internet, and keeps not only you, but the people around you, safe.

Don't Take the Easy Way Out

It would seem that the simplest thing to do would be to use the same password (or slight variations of the same password) for all of your accounts, eliminating the need to organize and remember passwords entirely. This sounds like the perfect solution on paper, however, it actually poses a greater risk to your safety than you would think. If a hacker were to get a hold of just one of your passwords or combinations, they would have an immense head start to figuring out every other one. Choosing unique and hard-to-crack passwords  for each account or profile is the first step to protecting yourself online

That being said, now we have a new issue: how do I remember all of these different passwords?

Organizing and remembering tens, even hundreds of passwords can seem like a daunting task. Fortunately, there are several ways to keep your accounts, documents, and information secure.

building code website

Write It Down

The beauty of this solution is that, at the end of the day, you don’t actually have to remember any of your passwords. All you have to do is write them down and keep them organized and in one place. There are several ways to do this:

1: Use a spreadsheet. Digital spreadsheet programs, such as Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets, allow for greater organization when it comes to storing multiple pieces of data. Setting up a file in one of these programs will also make it easier for you to access that information when needed, since it all lives in one place.

2: Buy a journal or planner. If writing down your passwords on your computer still seems too vulnerable for you, organize the old fashioned way! Any old notebook, journal, or spiral will do, or you can purchase a planner that is specially designed to store passwords and organize that kind of information.

3: Keep a note on your phone. Nowadays, it’s very rare that we are at our computers without having our cell phones somewhere in the vicinity. This means that adding all of your passwords and combinations into a dedicated note on your cell phone can be a fairly useful way to keep track of this information.

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Circuit Board

Use A Password Organizer

If none of these solutions fit your needs, consider using a password manager. Password managers are browser extensions or digital programs that store passwords for you. These extensions, in addition to organizing and keeping your information, also protect them with their own password security lock. That means you only need to remember one password, which makes your life that much easier! Here are a few examples of these extensions:

  • LastPass: LastPass is a password manager that encrypts and stores all of your logins in a ‘vault’. It has a web interface, as well as various plugins (including a browser extension) and a mobile app. They offer a paid plan as well as upgraded versions.
  • Bitwarden: Bitwarden is a free, open-source password manager. It’s offering is practically the same as LastPass, with the inclusion of a command-line interface, or CLI. Bitwarden can also be hosted on any platform you choose.
  • RoboForm: RoboForm is a bit different from LastPass and Bitwarden because it has a very sophisticated, highly customizable password creation feature. It’s also free with no cloud backup necessary!

Conclusion

All of this being said, organizing your passwords and logins does not have to be stressful. Whether you choose to go with a password journal, spreadsheet, or online password management extension, your friendly neighborhood Pop-A-Lock wants to ensure your safety, even if it’s not a job for a locksmith!

Lock Bumping and How to Prevent It

Lock Bumping and How to Prevent It

unlock with key

After locking up, most of us feel certain our possessions — and our families — are safe behind guarded doors. We think that, in the unlikely event of our home becoming a target for burglars, the only way inside would be through kicking in a door or window. But only 35% of home invasions show signs of forced entry. How are they getting in? It’s not because they’re criminal masterminds: since 2002, lock bumping has become a popular technique used by burglars to bypass the most commonplace door locks. Read up on this method, and what you can do to prevent lock bumping.

What is lock bumping?

Put simply, lock bumping is when a bump key is used to align the pins in a common cylinder lock. From here, a small amount of pressure is applied on the key, effectively “bumping” it and causing the plug to slide open. Once a way for locksmiths to safely disassemble locks, this knowledge has since made its way into criminal circles, and is now one of the most popular lock picking techniques.
Though not all home locks are vulnerable to bumping, the majority are. Cylinder locks, which have the pin tumbler mechanism mentioned above, are standard in homes across the country. Unfortunately, because they’re so commonplace, criminals are able to easily take advantage of this simple and mass-produced locking mechanism

opening lock with key

Should I Be Worried?

When in the wrong hands, bump keys are used to gain illegal entry to a residence — usually with the intention of burglary. While the possibility of your home falling victim to lock bumping may seem far-fetched, this method has been on the rise since 2002, and is so easy to execute a toddler could do it. Let’s look at the facts: 

  • Lock bump keys are extremely cheap ($3 on Amazon). This means anyone with an internet connection and a couple spare bucks can become a lock-picker.
  • Lock bumping is incredibly easy to learn, requiring no special skills or strength to execute.
  • On average, bumping a lock takes only 10 seconds, making it a quick and 
  • It’s a non-destructive lock-picking method. Since most insurance companies need to see some sign of forced entry to approve claims, this method is particularly worrisome for homeowners.
  • About 90% of US homes have cylinder locks that can be bumped

This last statistic is concerning. As someone who doesn’t spend a lot of time thinking about locks and how they work, how can you tell if you have one of those cylinder locks mentioned earlier? You don’t need an expert’s help for this. If your door locks are relatively old, came with the house or apartment, and require only one key to operate, it’s a safe bet that you have a cylinder lock. 

keyhole

How to prevent lock bumping

The first step you can take to prevent lock-bumping is finding a method to safeguard your locks against this technique or taking security measures to make your home less appealing to thieves. 

  • High-security locks: The best locks are the ones that can’t be picked. At the moment, there are several bump-resistant locks on the market, most of which come with a UL 437 rating and unique markings near the keyhole. (“UL” stands for “Underwriter Laboratories” which is the most commonly used rating system for mechanical locks in the US). These locks don’t use the tumbler-pin mechanism of cylinder locks, instead using tough-to-pick safety features that protect against picking or excessive force. They’re also patent protected, meaning only one company manufacturers the key and issues it to locksmiths or security companies. When choosing a lock for your home, be sure to ask your locksmith about high-security lock options. 
  • Anti-bump lock guards: If you’re on a budget, purchasing a bump-resistant guard may be the way to go. These devices are available on the internet or in hardware stores, and can be easily installed on your door. The most common bump-proof device is the thumb-turn guard, which latches on to the indoor thumb-turn part of your deadbolt, holding the lock firmly in place. However, there are disadvantages to this method since it prevents the door from unlocking on the outside. 
  • Keyless deadbolt locks: This is a popular method for homeowners looking for added security. Similar to the last method, keyless deadbolt locks can only be turned from the inside, making for less-convenient entry or exit, but they do have the added benefit of being entirely pick-proof from the outside.
  • Home security system: Though lock-picking is a swift and quiet process, burglars will be less-likely to target your home if your yard is well-lit and clear of any convenient hiding spots. The addition of home security systems and or security cameras can be a great defense as well, deterring potential thieves and alerting you to any outside threats.
CCTV Security Camera

Get a locksmith’s advice

If you’re unsure of how secure your home really is, consult one of the  experts at Pop-A-Lock. We’ll offer commercial security audits where we’ll sweep your property in search of potential security risks and provide advice on how to fortify your home. Just give us a call or check out our website for more information. We’re always happy to help a home in need.

The Rise and Fall of Physical Keys – What You Need to Know

The Rise and Fall of Physical Keys - What You Need to Know

keys in a door

As we welcome in the new year, it’s important to remain open to change and new possibilities. For those of us in the lock industry, this change comes in the form of keyless locks. We’ve long known that keys are pesky objects: they can break, get lost, or are a flat-out pain to locate when you need to get inside in a hurry. The solution? Keyless electronic locks that either require a keypad code or authentication via smartphone app to gain entry. These new, high-tech locks have risen in popularity in recent years, but even though they eliminate many issues associated with traditional key locks, they may not be the best option for your home. Read on to learn more about keyless locks and see if they’re the solution to your security needs. 

Are keys dead?

In short, yes and no. Electronic locks are relatively new, and the vast majority of homes and apartments in America are still fitted with traditional “pin and tumbler” or deadbolt locks. You’re far more likely to see electronic locks on cars than residences, but the invention is quickly gaining traction. 

As mentioned above, keyless locks were created as a solution to the problems associated with key locks. Rather than relying on a key to turn and release a door’s locking mechanism, today’s most popular electronic locks — keypad locks, smart locks, and biometric locks — are equipped with motors buried within the door itself. The motor is connected to the lock’s bolt or cylinder, activating only when stimulated by an electrical impulse. For keypad locks, this impulse is triggered when the correct code is entered, smart locks activate through a remote sensor, and biometric locks open when an approved fingerprint is scanned. 

At this time, however, electronic locks are still in their infancy. Only time will tell if traditional metal keys will endure these innovations. 

smartphone lock and key

Advantages and Disadvantages of Keyless Locks 

As a home or business owner, you should stay aware of security trends to ensure that your residence is as protected as it could be against outside threats. Part of this awareness is knowing when your current locks are outdated. But even if your locks need to be replaced, keyless locks may not be right for you. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons: 

  • Advantages: The good news with electronic locks is that you no longer need to worry about losing your keys! That’s one less thing to keep track of, or possibly break. Additionally, as long as you have a free hand, keyless locks make for easy entry since you need only punch in a code or open an app to unlock your door. Smart locks are particularly convenient if you need to let someone in while away: the majority of app-controlled locks on market allow for remote operation, meaning you can lock and unlock the door from anywhere. As for security, electronic locks offer an array of benefits. For one, they’re nearly pick-proof since the lock won’t turn unless triggered by an electrical impulse. You also don’t risk intruders gaining entry through using a spare key. Traditional “pin and tumbler” locks aren’t nearly as secure: over time, criminals have discovered a fool-proof way to pick these locks using lock bumpers. If break-ins are a frequent problem in your area, electronic locks will offer greater protection overall. 
  • Disadvantages: Having an electronic lock doesn’t always guarantee an easy entry. For keyless locks, forgetting your key-code, losing your phone, or weak internet connection as all can prevent the door from unlocking — and you can’t turn to a spare key for help. Power outages create unique issues as well: since the lock is controlled through electrical impulse, a power failure can result in the door remaining locked or unlocked until the power is restored. For either of these lock-out scenarios, it’s worth mentioning that, ironically, some electronic locks have a back-up key lock in case of emergencies. (See the above for all the reasons why this is a problem.) Although electronic locks can’t be easily picked, if your access code or phone falls into the wrong hands, intruders can enter your home damage-free and just as easily as if they found a spare key. With keyless car locks, there have also been instances where the locks were hacked, though it’s still uncertain if this will become a big problem for residential electronic locks as well. 
security keypad

Pop-A-Lock Can Handle It 

No matter your lock needs, Pop-A-Lock’s expert technicians can take care of the job. We can install electronic or high-security locks quickly, at minimal cost. Just call us to get a free quote! If you’re still undecided on which lock will best suit your home’s needs, give us a call anyway. We’re always free to chat locks and help you choose. 

What Is A Certified Locksmith? How Do You Obtain A Locksmith Certification?

Locksmith Certification: What It Is And Why You Should Care

Consumers are constantly overwhelmed by the amount of choices they’re presented for any given good or service – and they aren’t all of equal quality. Locksmithing isn’t any different. If a potential customer is doing a Google search for a locksmith nearby, they are likely hit with a slew of results between Google My Business, Google Local Services, Google Ads and organic search results. Add to that the fact that they’re likely stressed if they’re in a lockout situation – how do they know who to choose for help?

There are many factors for customers to consider when looking for  a locksmith. Finding a credible locksmith should always be at the top of this list, as scammers posing as legitimate locksmiths are commonly found in online results. A great way to filter through search results  is to look for certifications, or a membership with the Associated Locksmiths of America (AOLA). Gaining specific certifications and backing from the AOLA helps professionals build credibility, and helps customers to know  that a business is legitimate.

Different Kinds of Locksmith Certifications

*Disclaimer: Certifications and licensing are NOT required for locksmiths in every state. So before you spend a lot of time trying to find a licensed locksmith in your area, first do a quick search to check if you live in a licensing state or not.

If you’re not in a licensing state, you can still look for signs of legitimacy on a locksmith’s websites. These would include things like branded trucks and uniforms, association with ALOA, a company name said when you call for service, and more.

If you state does require locksmiths to be licensed, here’s some things to know:

There are a variety of different locksmith certifications. Each one indicates a specific level of training and expertise, ensuring that customers have a trusted professional working with them. Below is a list of basic certifications a locksmith can acquire, along with what the certification entails:

  • Registered Locksmith (RL): The certification of RL indicates an individual is an active locksmith that has completed  12 classes (eight hours each) with the ALOA Continuing Education (ACE) program. Registered locksmiths can also gain certification through attending a ALOA Five or Six-Day Basic Locksmithing course, then passing the exam at the end of the course.

 

  • Certified Registered Locksmith (CRL): Certified Registered Locksmiths have completed the training to become an RL, but have also passed  the ten mandatory categories listed by AOLA. Additionally, CRLs have completed training in two specialized AOLA electives of their choice.
  • Certified Professional Locksmith (CPL): Certified Professional Locksmiths have gained the status of CRL, but have completed training in an additional twelve elective categories. These locksmiths have advanced knowledge of specialized areas in the field.
  • Certified Master Locksmith (CML): Certified Master Locksmiths hold the highest certification in the field. CML status indicates the individual has earned all previous certifications, and has demonstrated proficiency in 90% of the available categories of the Proficiency Registration Program created by the ALOA. These locksmiths have advanced knowledge of almost every area of locksmithing and of electronic security.

 

When a locksmith gains any – or all – of these certifications, their credibility is boosted. Certifications indicate the locksmith has taken the time to educate themselves on a wide range of locksmithing tactics, and will be able to find the best solution for your specific situation.

Certified Pop-A-Lock Locksmith

Find a Certified Locksmith Through Pop-A-Lock

Pop-A-Lock is proud to support professional development throughout the Pop-A-Lock organization by providing the highest quality training in conjunction with the Associated Locksmiths of America. All of our locksmiths are encouraged and supported to participate in the internationally recognized certification program produced by ALOA.

As outlined above, the certification process requires the applicant to undergo a series of difficult testing covering the range of Automotive, Commercial, Residential and Industrial locksmith and safe categories. There is a strong emphasis on Life Safety throughout the Certification process in addition to ongoing updates for relevance to the industry.

Pop-A-Lock also provides support to the industry at-large by providing instructors for various ALOA education classes conducted throughout the year as well as providing an instructor for the ALOA ACE certified instructor course.

If your local Pop-A-Lock is located in a state that doesn’t require licensing, you can still trust Pop-A-Lock! We pride ourselves on providing only the best service to our customers. Even in states without legal requirements, Pop-A-Lock locksmiths go through appropriate training to ensure they can provide you with the best, safest and most efficient services.

Contact Pop-A-Lock Today!

By contacting Pop-A-Lock, you can rest easy knowing you will receive help from a highly trained technician. Pop-A-Lock is proud to retain one of the largest collections of ALOA certified professionals in the world, as evidenced by the results of over 2 decades of training and testing across North America!

Our locksmithing professionals are friendly, knowledgeable, and ready to help find a solution for your unique needs. Contact us today by calling  (800) POP-A-LOCK or visit our site for a quote today!

I Think I Was The Victim Of A Locksmith Scam, What Do I Do Now?

Unfortunately, locksmith scams are an all-too-common occurrence throughout the United States. After being locked out of their home or car, an unsuspecting person will search for local locksmiths online, hoping to get back in quickly and cheaply. However, most do not realize that locksmith scammers hide in online results for companies that don’t exist. They make their websites look legitimate, providing a phone number and fake address. The “locksmith” often arrives late, and will bill you hundreds of dollars more than they estimated after breaking the lock on your door.

If this circumstance has happened to you, do not feel ashamed! These scammers are prevalent throughout the industry, and this unfortunate occurrence happens to hundreds of people every year.  Below we have listed some tell-tale signs that your “locksmith” is a scammer, along with what action to take if you find yourself a victim of a locksmith scam.

Signs Of A Locksmith Scam

  • Estimated cost is too low: Scammers will often advertise a very low price, in order to lure you away from legitimate locksmiths. They may claim online or over the phone that the job will cost between $15-35, only to bombard you with questionable service fees after they finish the job.  Do not be fooled by low prices, as any credible locksmith will charge around $100 for a lockout.
  • No full estimate upfront: Be sure to ask for a written estimate before the work is completed, with all additional fees included. Scammers often bill hundreds of dollars in additional charges, claiming the added fees are because you called during “emergency hours” or there are “mileage charges, minimums, service fees” etc. If they refuse to give you a written estimate, or if the estimate is way too high, they may be attempting to scam you.
  • No marked vehicle or uniform: Legitimate locksmiths will usually arrive in a company marked vehicle and uniform, in a timely manner. Be wary of any “locksmith” who arrives late and/or without a uniform or marked vehicle. Ask for the locksmith’s identification upon arrival, as scammers will usually refuse to show you any form of ID and become hostile when you ask for credentials. Scammers also may have an answering service that only refers to the company as “locksmith service” or “locksmith company,” so be sure to ask for a specific name when you call.
  • Accepts only cash: If the locksmith tells you they only accept cash or debit, they may be a scammer. Credit cards are avoided by scammers because they are easier to trace. Any reputable locksmith will be able to take credit, debit or cash payment from customers.
  • “Have” to drill your lock: A HUGE sign that a locksmith is a scammer is that they claim they “have to” drill your lock.  They may claim it’s a high security lock, when it’s not,  or that your lock is too new. There are a variety of other “explanations” they may use to justify drilling the lock. However, as a general rule of thumb, do NOT let anyone drill your lock. Certified, reputable locksmiths have the tools and expertise to pick almost any lock. Scammers will leave you with a broken lock, and a bill for hundreds of dollars.
  • No receipt after you pay: Always ask for a receipt after you pay a locksmith. Reputable locksmiths should have no problem giving you an itemized receipt after the work is complete. The receipt will likely  have the company letterhead, logo, or contact information, along with a list of each of the charges. A good locksmith will explain each of the charges ahead of time, and will provide information for you to contact the company after the job.

 

What To Do If You’ve Been Scammed

Unfortunately, these scammers are good at what they do, and odds are, if you’ve already provided payment you will not be able to get your money back. However, if you feel that you’ve been the victim of a scam, there are some steps you can take:

 

  • Call the state’s attorney general’s office: Report the locksmith to your state’s Attorney General’s office immediately. They will investigate the “locksmith” company and take action if they feel appropriate.

 

  • Call a reputable locksmith: If a scammer has tampered with your locks, you may need to have them rekeyed for your safety. Reputable locksmiths, such as Pop-A-Lock, will also be able to fix the damage done by the scammer, and replace the broken lock.

Trusted Locksmiths at Pop-A-Lock

When you call a locksmith, make sure they are qualified by being a member of the Associated Locksmiths of America (ALOA). This organization vets locksmiths, and ensures you can trust the expertise and knowledge of the technician dispatched to you. Established organizations such as Pop-A-Lock have technicians that are certified, qualified and ready to help you with your locksmithing needs. Pop-A-Lock employees will always arrive in a marked vehicle and uniform, and will be ready to discuss all charges transparently with you upfront. We have the tools to pick almost any lock without damage, and are always ready to help our valued customers.

Contact Pop-A-Lock Today!

Locked out of your home or car? Contact Pop-A-Lock today! We provide a 24/7 emergency lockout services, and provide free service to caregivers who have accidentally locked their child inside their car through our PAL Saves Kids program.

Founded in Lafayette, Louisiana, Pop-A-Lock has quickly become the largest professional locksmithing franchise in the United States. All of our technicians are certified, experienced, and ready to help you find the best solution for your individual needs.  You can call (800) POP-A-LOCK or contact us online for a quote today!