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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.

The Best Ways to Secure Your Garage or Parking Location

The Best Ways to Secure Your Garage or Parking Location

parking lot

Despite being incredibly valuable — probably our most valuable asset — cars are often left outside, unprotected. This is even more surprising when considering that, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, more than 1 in 10 property crimes occur in parking lots or garages. The reason for the frequency is simple: home garages are easy to break into, while public or private business garages provide ample coverage and target options. Given the prevalence of automotive crime, we clearly have a lot of work to do when securing our idle vehicles. 

Here, we’ll cover our top safety tips for when your car is parked in your garage, a public garage, and a business’ private garage.

Home Garage Security Tips

Personal garages are home not only to one or multiple cars, but also lawnmowers, lawn equipment, sporting gear, decoration storage, and much, much more. With all these valuables in one location, it’s surprising to consider that home garages are the most vulnerable part of a home’s structure and are a frequent entry-point for invaders. As such, it’s important to consider beefing up your garage’s internal security and not becoming too relaxed when handling garage-bound items. Here are some things you can do:

  • Always Close the Garage Door

The most common cause of garage burglary is a simple mistake: leaving the door open. The fix (closing the door, of course) might seem simple enough, but it’s important to diligently practice closing your garage door every time it’s opened, in addition to locking the house door inside the garage. 

  • Secure Garage Door Windows

Although it’s better to not have garage door windows at all, the second-best option is to secure these openings. Since thieves often use garage doors to scope out a property’s offerings — or even as a means to enter the residence — placing a dark tarp over the glass could work as a great deterrent to both issues. 

  • Install Floodlights

Most thieves target home garages because they know it’s the place most likely to be neglected by property owners. Prove them wrong by installing motion-activated floodlights. Not only will these shed some much-needed light on nefarious activities, they also lend the impression of greater security surrounding the garage area. 

  • Hide Keys and Garage Openers 

Often, homeowners will leave their car keys or garage door openers in cars parked in outside driveways, assuming their neighborhood is too safe for burglary. Be smarter: thieves can target nearly any neighborhood of their choosing. As such, it’s important to bring your keys inside every time you return home.

  • Install a Garage Alarm System

When installing alarm points in your home’s security system, don’t overlook your garage! Having a motion-activated alarm can both alert you to shady activity and scare off thieves.

drive way

Public Garage Security Tips

Although public garage security is largely out of our control, that doesn’t mean we should leave our well-being to chance. Here are three important steps to securing your car in a public garage:

  • Look for Visibility

When selecting a parking spot in a public garage, be sure to choose a spot with great visibility, meaning plenty of light and space. Thieves love to target cars parked behind shadowy columns, or cars parked away from fellow travelers since they’re less likely to be spotted. Luckily, you can avoid this situation altogether by parking among other cars in a spacious, well-lit area. 

  • Always Lock Behind You

A simple mental slip — forgetting to lock up when in a public space — can result in a huge expense for vehicle owners should a burglar break a window or, heaven forbid, steal your car. Stay present when leaving a public garage and wait to hear the beep! of your car locking behind you. 

  • Secure your Possessions

Do as the common parking lot security sign says and lock your car, take your keys, and hide your belongings. Prowling car burglars are more likely to target a car with valuables on display, so be sure to stash any laptops, purses, and shopping bags under seats or portable blankets when locking up. 

Business Garage Security Tips

Business owners have an obligation to provide safe parking to employees and customers alike. Failing to do so could result in an immense amount of personal guilt, not to mention losing out on greater patrons and workers. To provide top-notch security and safety to whoever leaves their car at your doors, we recommend the following: 

  • Install Emergency Stations 

These security devices are the large, metallic boxes with blue lights you sometimes see near parking garage elevators or exits. A small dial box allows garage attendees to easily alert security or law enforcement in case of an emergency. Given the added safety emergency stations provide, it’s not surprising that the mere presence of one or two boxes on each garage floor can be enough to reassure drivers that their car is in good hands, while also deterring potential thieves. 

  • Access Control / Install Security Gate

If your business parking is exclusive to employees or if you’d like to keep an eye on the clientele entering your garage, installing an access card station or security booth is the way to go. Assigning parking garage access cards to each employee to be used at a corresponding entrance booth ensures that each person entering actually works at your establishment. A security gate, on the other hand, could perform the same function with the added security of on-hand security personnel to deter on-foot intruders, or used more casually in order to ensure people entering are true customers. 

  • Install Video Surveillance 

Having a visible, video surveillance system throughout your garage is a fantastic way to both deter thieves and monitor suspicious activity. With a 24/7 security team on standby, situations that would turn dangerous can be quickly identified and de-escalated. 

empty parking spot

We Have Cars On Lock

When most people think “locksmith,” they think of people who repair locks on homes and businesses, and they might be right. But when it comes to Pop-A-Lock, this definition should be expanded to include automobiles and overall personal security. No matter if you need car rekeying, key fob duplication or your door is in a jamb, we’re here to help. Check out more of our services here: https://www.popalock.com/automotive/

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!

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.

Going on a Trip? How to Stay Safe and Vigilant While Traveling Alone

Going on a Trip? How to Stay Safe and Vigilant While Traveling Alone

Travel Ready

Traveling alone, whether it be for business or pleasure, can be a nerve-wracking experience, especially when it comes to protecting the things that matter most: your belongings and your personal safety. Having your mind occupied with constant worry about your general well-being is no way to travel, so take some safety tips from your local friendly locksmiths.

planning

Research, Research, Research

Doing your research prior to taking a trip is always a smart move, but looking into where you’ll be staying and exploring the surrounding areas is that much more important if you’re planning on traveling by yourself.

This doesn’t just mean finding a good restaurant to grab dinner, or looking into museums and tourist spots. Find the nearest convenience store, subway station, bus stop, or gas station. To take it a step further, you can locate the nearest emergency departments to be even more prepared in case of an unexpected event or emergency.

Open Public Spaces

Do Your Best To Blend In

Common tourist destinations are like carnivals to pickpockets and other petty criminals. Looking out of place or lost in a big, crowded city can make you vulnerable to being approached or becoming a victim of one of these people.

There are several ways to avoid this problem, but they all boil down to the same concept: not drawing attention to yourself. Dressing as close to the local style as possible, or wearing inconspicuous clothing in general, is the easiest first step. There are also several clothing items and accessories you can invest in that will give you an added layer of protection, such as anti-theft wallets, jackets, and backpacks.

If you do get lost or need some help orienting yourself, it is vital to be discreet when looking at maps or asking for directions. Having confidence and an unassuming look will get you a long way when you’re alone in a foreign place.

Traveling Passport & Wallet

Keep Track of Money and Important Documents

Losing your wallet or a major document is the fastest way to ruin your trip, and can cause immense stress, especially if you are in a foreign country. Making copies of documents such as passports, boarding passes, and tickets to events or tourist attractions can ease your mind and give you some time to truly unwind and enjoy your vacation. You could also consider taking advantage of the power of the Internet by storing all of your documents on the cloud.

In terms of money, there are several ways to ensure that you’ll be good to go when purchasing local food or some silly souvenirs for your friends and family back home. Aside from investing in an aforementioned anti-theft wallet, you can also take precautionary measures upon your arrival at your destination by utilizing the currency exchange at the airport. This means less conversion math and more fun for you!

Travel Responsibly

Your safety is of utmost importance to us, so giving you tips and tricks on how to be wise and confident while traveling is too! Keeping your home and family safe while you’re away, well, that’s our job.

Finding yourself in need of locksmithing services? No matter where you are, Pop-A-Lock is glad to help. Give us a call today!

Why You Need to Rekey Your New Home

Why You Need to Rekey Your New Home

painting

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!

Top 10 Locks We Recommend for Your Business

Top 10 Locks We Recommend for Your Business

door unlocking code

As a business owner, you’re no stranger to responsibility, whether to your customers, shareholders, or the team that makes your success a reality. One integral — if overlooked — step in realizing all of these obligations is workplace security. Having an industry-leading security system in place can deter break-ins or alert you of potential outside threats before they become a problem, saving your company thousands each year. And though an office or business front’s security system involves many moving parts, it all begins with a secure locking system. All other security efforts serve to back-up this first line of defense. 

Read on to learn more about different types of locks, and see our top picks for your business.

Why workplace security matters

Though the importance of office security may seem obvious, we want to re-state just how crucial it is in ensuring your business thrives: security is integral in mitigating threats from the outside, protecting office valuables, and the safety of your staff.  

In having a secure office, you’ll be able to block or detect threats before they become a problem, which could save you hundreds or thousands in the long run. If, for instance, your office was broken into due to a weak or outdated locking system, you could lose important electronics like desktop computers, printers, and TVs — in addition to the peace of mind of your employees.

open access doors

Top 10 locks for your business

Before choosing a lock for your business, it’s important to know that you’re getting the right one for you. Today, there are three prominent categories of locks: smart locks, commercial locks, and deadbolt/security locks. Each has its pros and cons, but they can all be equally successful. When evaluating these categories, consider the needs of your business and employees: the perfect lock is sure to follow. 

Smart locks: These are the most technologically advanced locks on the market today and, arguably, the most secure. Smart locks are keyless and involve both an electrical and digital component: the locks themselves are electronic, meaning they can lock or unlock whenever triggered, while the entire system is connected to either an electronic keypad or smartphone app. Both of these components allow for automatic locking, remote access, and real-time updates. While these functions allow for greater ease of use in comparison to traditional deadbolt locks, it’s important to note that they’re all susceptible to electrical malfunctioning and cannot be unlocked or re-locked should your phone die while accessing them remotely. 

Our top picks: 

Commercial locks: The following locks are generally accepted as having strong commercial uses, offering the greatest in protection while still maintaining the functions of classic, high-security deadbolts. Most of the following require some use of thumb-turn keys, though the first two options have an electronic keypad as well. If you’re looking for the added security of electronic deadbolts with the constant reassurance of a physical key, these are the locks for you. 

Our top picks: 

Deadbolt and security locks: 

The following are less-accepted as commercial locks, and although they lack the tech features and mechanical prowess of our earlier picks, they serve the function of locking your business all the same. However, it’s important to note that single-cylinder deadbolts are only one step up from spring bolt locks — the least secure locks on the market — in terms of security. Mortise locks, on the other hand, are more difficult to kick in since they’re set into the door frame itself. Additionally, all locks on this list require keys for entry. 

Our top picks: 

consulting teamwork

Pop-A-Lock Can Audit Your Office

We believe everyone deserves to feel safe both at home and work, which is why we offer business security audits along with our residential ones. Using our expertise, we’ll scour your workplace until we’ve located all security threats and provide solutions. Call us today for a free quote!

Smart Security Systems Tips and Tricks

home safely locked

Smart Security Systems Tips and Tricks

For those of us who are chronically online, stumbling across a “lifehack” post with a simple trick that shatters our version of reality — like finding out you can chill wine with, get this, frozen wine — is just part of a normal afternoon. And while these tips are nothing short of fascinating, they rarely have much to do with the bigger questions of adult life, such as your home’s security. 

Here, we’ll cover several mind-blowing (and simple!) life hacks to help you get the most from your home’s smart security systems. 

How To Have The Safest Home Alarm System

Today’s home alarms aren’t the simple beeper-systems of our parents; in fact, most come tricked out with motion detectors, video monitors, and activity programmers — some can even sync to your home’s thermostat. Not only can today’s alarm systems alert you to unauthorized entry in record time: they can also help you stay alert to any and all activity in your home. 

Here are several hacks to get the most out of your smart alarm system: 

  • Check-in: If your home alarm system has video-monitoring capabilities, use them to check-up on your household’s daily activities. Whether this includes keeping a look-out for dessert thieves s or watching your cat’s daily shenanigans, these cameras can do a lot more than simply monitoring for thieves. 
  • Save on your energy bill: Some alarm systems either sync to your thermostat or control your home’s temperature directly. If this is the case for you, be sure to make the most of your alarm’s remote access by reducing the temperature or turning off lights when you’re not home. 
  • Prevent water damage: In addition to temperature controls, some smart alarm systems monitor changing internal conditions, going so far as to sensing excess moisture and turning off the water if a leak is detected. To keep an eye on your pipes, simply place a sensor under your sink or in your crawlspace. If a leak is detected, you’ll be notified immediately. 
  • Install a smart lock: Even though your alarm system is immediately triggered when a door opens, you don’t want thieves to simply waltz in and run the clock until the police arrive. Your first line of defense is always a firmly locked door, but even this evades us at times. If you find yourself frequently forgetting to lock your door, it might be time to invest in a smart lock you can control remotely. After all, we’re only human. 
  • Keep your lawn clean: An additional way you can ease the burden on your alarm system is by keeping your lawn tidy. Burglars are always on the look-out for additional cover and signs that a home is sitting vacant. Typically, unkempt lawns indicate that you’ve been gone for an extended period, making it obvious that your home is unguarded. Overgrown hedges and tall grass also make for perfect cover, as thieves can easily duck out of sight or shield their presence as they break-in. Though messy lawns are eye-sores for the whole neighborhood, nothing is more attractive to a thief.
smart phone locking

Safety Tips To Minimize Everyday Risks

No matter how advanced your home’s complete security system is, there are always steps you can take to optimize its efficiency and minimize risks. These tricks include:

  • Updating your interior locks: Even the most advanced internal security systems are nothing without the presence of a good lock. As such, it helps to semi-frequently update your external locks to prevent weathering and stay abreast of current security trends. 
  • Installing motion lights: Even thieves are gullible to a good jump scare. Using outdoor, motion-activated floodlights can serve to back-up any outdoor security cameras, both providing some much-needed visibility and scaring away intruders. 
  • Having a guard dog: This might seem a little barbarian, but having a loud, imposing dog in addition to your home’s security system can actually help deter thieves. According to a survey, 34% of convicted burglars stated that hearing or seeing a dog would turn them away from a home they were considering breaking into. But be warned — dogs require a lot of care, so buying one for security purposes alone is never a good idea. That being said, these watchful guards make for loving pets.

Using a high-security safe: Should your home — heaven forbid — be broken into, having a secure safe stored away someplace nondescript can mean the difference between minor external damage to losing thousands of dollars worth of valuables.

cctv security camera

Tips On Keeping Your Home Safe While Away

One additional component of “lifehacking” your home’s security involves staying safe while away using smart technology. If you’re planning on being away from home for an extended period, it’s important to stage your home to look as if it’s being actively lived-in, or at least make your security system visible on the outside. This will deter potential thieves who scour neighborhoods for vulnerable-looking homes. Here are several ways to avoid being noticed:

  • Use lights with randomized, automatic timers
  • Install outside cameras that sync to your existing security system
  • Don’t let your mail or packages pile up outside 
  • Refrain from posting your whereabouts on social media, especially if your handle includes your real name 
  • Have Amazon’s Alexa play a randomized burglar prevention soundtrack, or make dog noises while you’re away (what can’t she do?) 
outdoor lighting

Stay Secure with Pop-A-Lock

If you’re still on the fence about improving your home’s security measures, let Pop-A-Lock  clear up your doubts with our residential security audit. We’ll scour your property in search of security blindspots, and advise you on how to beef up your defenses. Or, if you want to evaluate it for yourself, download our free home security audit checklist 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

Indoors: 

  • 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

Outdoors: 

  • 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!