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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!

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.

How To: Keep Your Home & Business Safe With Smart Devices

We hear the buzzwords all the time. Internet of Things. Connected devices. Smart TVs and thermostats.

There’s no denying smart technology is on the rise. The worldwide smart home market is forecasted to be $53.5 billion by 2022. The current estimated connected home technologies sales in the U.S. is at $1,485,000.

Smart technology can provide both home and business owners alike with peace of mind, convenience and efficiency. It can also be overwhelming to pick the right device for you from such a crowded market. And once you do pick the device, you have to learn how to use it most effectively.

Below, our trained Pop-A-Lock technicians give some suggested smart devices to improve your home’s or business’s security, and how they work.

Smart Devices for Increased Security:

There are a variety of smart devices that can automate processes and help to increase your home or business’s security.  Some devices to consider include:

Home Smart Key Security

Smart Locks

Installing smart locks can be a great first step in home or business automation, and can help increase the security of both as well. For starters, a lot of smart locks will give you remote access, allowing you to check from afar if your door is locked. Never again will you have that “oh no, did I lock the door?” feeling 20 minutes down the road.

Additionally, smart locks can help you control who has access to your home or business in a more secure manner. With traditional keys, if you want someone to have access without your help, you have to make a copy of the key. But then, eventually, there are too many copies floating around and your security has actually decreased. With many smart locks, you can give someone a code to unlock the door. This code can then be changed every so often, to make sure only the correct people have access.

Some smart locks even go a step further, and allow you to give out time-limited codes. For example, you can give someone a code that lasts 15 minutes, or 24 hours. Then that code expires. This ensures people only have access for as long as you want them to.

Automated Light Bulbs

Setting light bulbs  to automatically come on at certain times of day can also deter any potential thieves. You could set your lights on a traditional timer, so they turn on and off at specific times each day. Or, if you’d like to go to the next level, there are smart light bulbs that can be controlled remotely. These allow you to monitor which lights are on in your house or business, and turn any of them on or off from wherever you are.  Even if you’re not there, if lights are on inside it will look like you are, which will deter those robbers!

Motion-Activated Outdoor Lights

The same idea from above applies to outdoor lighting. If a thief is sneaking around your yard or the parking lot of your business, and they trigger a light, they’ll likely be scared off. The threat of being seen by neighbors, passersby, or someone inside the house or building  is increased when a light shines. No crook wants that!

Well Lit Home Security

Smart Doorbells

There are some pretty high-tech doorbells available today. Many of them have video cameras built in, which is a great way to remotely keep an eye on your house. If you’re away, you can check in every once in a while for peace of mind that all is still well. If you are home or in the office at odd hours, and you hear an unexpected noise outside or knock on the door, you can safely check who it is before actually answering the door.

Many of these doorbells can also send alerts to your phone if motion is detected. If someone is roaming around outside your home or business, you’ll get a real-time notification on your phone. Then you can open up the app, check the camera footage and make sure everything is safe. If something is wrong, you can call emergency services faster than if you don’t know something is wrong until you get home later.

Smart Garage Doors

Garage doors with the right technology can also provide increased security for your home or business. Some smart garages will alert you when the door is left open and allow you to close them remotely. This is a great way to make sure no entries to the house are left open for thievery.

Similarly to the doorbells, some smart garages will also alert you of motion detected. Again, even if you are not home or inside the business, you can check on the app what the motion was. If it is someone or something suspicious, you can alert the police sooner.

Security Systems With Connected Cameras

Security systems with connected cameras let you keep an eye on your home or business while you’re away. These smart cameras allow you to check areas like your living room, backyard, office space – anywhere you set one up. And, they allow you to do this any time, anywhere.

Some systems will even assign dates and times to its footage. So, say you get an alert on your phone at 3am that motion is detected in your backyard. You can go back later and check the footage from 3am to see what the motion was. And, many of these systems can be accessed from mobile devices, so you don’t have to be at a computer to check.

Another great possible feature of these smart security systems is setting virtual boundaries. You could set one, for example, to go a certain distance around your home or specifically around an area of your office that needs added security. If that boundary is breached, you’ll be alerted.

Be Proactive

Smart home technologies come in a wide variety. No matter the device or system, though, they all have one thing in common – they’ll provide you convenience and peace of mind when it comes to your home or business’s security. Don’t wait until something happens to retroactively install better security measures, though. Be proactive and get started today, to ensure you and your family or employees stay safe!

Pop-A-Lock Mascot Hugging Child

We at Pop-A-Lock know it’s a very crowded market of smart technology. If you’re not sure which to try first, check this list of smart home technologies, which recommends good starter devices, such as smart locks and doorbells.

Or, contact your local Pop-A-Lock professionals today to learn more about what solution might be best for you!