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Bon Voyage: Keeping Your Home Safe While You’re Away For the Holidays

The holidays are a time for family, friends, and, for many of us, travel. If you’re leaving for an extended period of time, it’s important to take some precautions to ensure your home is safe and secure while you’re away. Be sure to consult the tips below to help you prepare for your trip!

A white house in autumn with pumpkins on the porch.

Install or Arm Your Security System

If your home is equipped with a security system, be sure to arm it before you leave. If you don’t have one, this season of holiday travel may be the perfect opportunity to get one installed. Burglary statistics suggest that homes without security systems are about 300 times more likely to be broken into than those with a system. Few safety measures can claim to be as effective.

But, if you can’t get one installed, consider simply placing a security system sign outside. Even just this visual representation of home security can make a would-be burglar think twice about targeting your home.

Lock All Doors and Windows

The most obvious way to secure your home is to make sure all the doors and windows are locked before you leave. Remember to check your basement or garage doors, as well as any doors that may lead directly outside. 

A flimsy lock is no match for a determined burglar, so be sure your locks are in good working order and invest in high-quality deadbolts for your doors. It may also be worth considering electronic locks, both for their security and to help with the tip below.

Have Someone Check on Your Home

If you have a trusted contact in the area, it can be beneficial for many reasons to have them check on your home every so often while you’re away. This can be as simple as driving by and looking to see if anything appears out of the ordinary, but leaving a spare key behind or sharing the lock code so the friend or family member can enter your home if needed is a worthwhile extra layer of security.

A smart TV on a wooden TV stand.

Give the Impression You’re Inside

One of the most powerful ways to discourage someone from attempting to break in is to make them think there’s someone in the house. Having your home checked on while you’re away is one way to do this, but there are several other tricks to make it appear someone’s home even when they’re not.

Putting lights or TVs on a timer is one surefire way to give outside observers the idea that someone is home. If you have an existing daily schedule for times you already tend to use these appliances, it’s a great idea to set your timers to follow that schedule. 

You should also take steps to avoid mail piling up outside while you’re away. Pausing your newspaper deliveries and arranging mail pickups, possibly by the same person who will be checking on your home, are two potential strategies. If you’ll be gone for an extended amount of time, you may also be able to temporarily forward your mail elsewhere for the duration of your trip.

Hide Your Valuables

If you store any expensive items or keepsakes in spots visible from an outside window, it’s certainly a good idea to hide them away while you’re gone. This can be as simple as shutting your blinds or curtains, but the best choice would be to have a water and fireproof safe to keep things in. If your valuables are small and easy to move, you could also consider giving them to a trusted friend or neighbor while you’re away.

Take Pictures Before You Leave

While this tip won’t prevent someone from breaking in, it can be a lifesaver if the worst-case scenario happens and there is an intruder while you’re gone. This photo proof of items that may have gone missing will save you the headache of attempting to itemize everything that was damaged or taken. 

To go along with this, make sure your property or renter’s insurance policies are up to date before you leave. Again, this won’t keep away any unwanted attention, but it will make a world of difference if you need it.

Two hands holding sparklers at dusk.

Have a Happy and Safe Holiday!

Following these steps can help you fully enjoy your holiday without having to worry about what might be happening back home. We hope this article makes your trip as enjoyable and safe as possible. 

From all of us at Pop-A-Lock, have a wonderful holiday season!

Why Your Garage Door Needs to Be Included in Your Security Audit

A outdoor photo of a home with a garage door.

Why is Securing the Garage Important?

Focusing on garage door safety is important because it is one further step in keeping your home and family safe from intruders. Did you know that a thief can break into a garage door in as little as six seconds? In addition, nine percent of burglars gain access to homes through poorly secure garage doors. 

The mere fact that garage doors provide easy access for burglars to enter your home is enough reason to take extra precautions securing them. Luckily, there are many ways to ensure your home stays secure – keep reading to find out more!

Check Out These Tips for Securing Your Garage

  1. Cover all exterior windows with frosted glass, adhesives, or privacy blockers. Thieves will often scope out their target areas before committing the crime. Covering your windows will help hide your valuables and reduce their motives.
  2. Install motion-detecting lights near your garage doors to increase visibility and deter thieves from breaking in. You’ve heard the saying that the thief will come in the dead of night – that’s because they can sleuth better in the dark. These lights will do well at exposing their actions and hopefully scare them away.
  3. Lock the house access door located inside the garage. Even if a robber gains access to your garage, it’s better to guarantee they can’t get into your home. Locking your house door in your garage is one extra step of security that will pay off if you ever need it.
  4. Invest in a garage door lock – door locks are a very affordable way to go the extra step with securing your garage door. The device attaches to the garage door, disabling someone from opening the door from the outside.
  5. A great way to improve the overall security of your home and not just your garage area is to install security cameras. Cameras reduce break-ins by 300% and are the most effective way to protect your home and family. 

Can Pop-A-Lock Help?

Pop-A-Lock has a free security audit checklist that you can do today – it will guide you through different areas of your home and help you guarantee it’s secure. The audit mentions the following ways to secure your garage area:

  • The audit further supports the use of motion sensor cameras outside the home.
  • It encourages homeowners to lock up valuables like tools with lock cables.
  • Joining a neighborhood watch group is highly recommended.
  • It reinforces the installation of special locks on the garage and home doors.
  • Get a new and more secure garage door if possible.

Our team focuses on these four safety points: to deter thieves, delay their access to your valuables, document their identity, and disclose break-in attempts to the police. Creating unappealing targets or making your home more challenging to enter are great ways to keep robbers away. If there are any break-in attempts, having the ability to document those attempts and submit evidence to the police will be crucial to help stop them in the future.

An outdoor photo of homes with garage doors.

Don’t Hesitate to Secure Your Home!

Our expert technicians are very passionate about keeping your home and family safe. Pop-A-Lock offers a variety of services geared toward improving your home’s safety. We offer lock installation and can even install electronic locks that are the most secure option for your home’s doors. Rekeying your locks is recommended after purchasing the house or after events that leave your safety feeling unstable – our team can help with that, too. 

Whether you need specific garage door services or need to focus on improving the overall security of your home, Pop-A-Lock is always there to help. Give our team a call to set up an appointment! Feel free to reach out if you have any questions about our security audit – we’re happy to help!

How Does Your Home Stand Up to Pop-A-Lock’s Security Audit?

When you leave your home for the day or return for the night, you probably remember to lock the door, but your safety efforts shouldn’t end here. There’s a lot more that goes unnoticed when it comes to your home’s security. With Pop-A-Lock home security audit, you can make sure that you and your home are safe at all times. However, it’s just as important to understand why these safety measures are important. Let’s take a run through of the top items on our security checklist to see how they can keep you safe.

Check All of Your Entrances

One of the most important things you can check when it comes to your home’s level of security is whether your doors, and all of their components, are properly installed. You may think that having proper locks on your external entrances is enough to keep you safe. While this will prevent criminals from simply walking into your home, unfortunately it is not enough to prevent them from breaking in.

In addition to checking the condition of your locks, it is just as important to assess the security of the door frame, the hinges, and the material of the door.

If your door frame doesn’t feel secure, you can install longer screws or a latch guard. Latch guards are metal plates that protect the weakest points of the door – the space between the door frame and the door itself. 

Additionally, if your door opens toward the inside of your home, make sure your door hinges are tamper-proof or peened hinges. Peened hinges are a very secure way of retaining the pin. 

If your door opens toward the outside, adding a security stud can help protect your door hinges. Doors that open outward have their hinge pins on the outside of the building. If a potential intruder removes the hinge pins, the security stud protects the door from being removed by locking the leaves of the hinges together.

A hollow wooden door can be easily kicked in. If possible, opt for a solid wood or metal door as these materials are much stronger. If you have a doggy door or a mail delivery slot, it’s vital to check whether the locking mechanisms can be reached through these spaces. Even if the locks are not accessible from a doggy door or mail slot, it’s still very important to close and lock these openings when they are not in use.

Secure Your Garage and Basement

More often than not, homeowners disregard the security of their garage door. The problem with this is that many people store a lot of their personal belongings in their garage, not to mention that your garage likely has a door with access to the rest of your home.

All entrances from the garage to your living quarters should follow the guidelines discussed above – they should have secure locks, door frames, hinges, and door materials. Additionally, avoid leaving anything outside of your garage that could be easily stolen or give potential thieves a clue as to what other valuables you may have inside your home.

You may also forget to assess how well your basement is protected. After all, without access outside, it may feel like the basement is already secure. However, in extreme cases if you have to hide from a criminal who’s broken into your home, your basement will be the safest space. For this reason, you want to make sure that any doors to your basement have effective locks, including a deadbolt, and that they fit snug within their frame. 

Double Check the Windows

Ensuring that your windows are working properly and have the proper security measures installed is not only beneficial in protecting you from potential thieves or criminals but also from general injury. This is especially true when it comes to windows on the upper floor of your home.

It’s important to check that each window in your home has a securely attached window screen. Whether the window opens up on a higher level, or out to a hazardous area, the window screen will keep the outside out and the inside in. You’ll also want to double check the locks on the windows.

Deter Criminals with Proper Lighting

At the end of the day, if your home is not well lit, all of your other safety measures will be less effective. A highly stable and durable front entrance is important, but if a burglar can easily hide in the shadows while finding a way to gain entry, it defeats the purpose. Ensuring that your front door is well lit is a must. Neighbors and passersby will be able to see your door clearly and so will you – quickly deterring away a potential thief.

This rule shouldn’t end at the front door, however. You’ll want to make sure the entire perimeter of your home has lighting – especially any secluded areas in the back or side of your lawn. Your exterior should be lit in the most logical places with a bulb that is at least 40 watts. It’s even better if you can install motion sensored lights – this is the best way to stay on alert of suspicious activity on your property.

You Can Lean on Pop-A-Lock to Keep You Safe

Auditing your home’s security can feel like an overwhelming task, but with a little guidance from Pop-A-Lock, you’ll be able to reassess your home’s level of security and implement some simple tricks to protect yourself from burglars or other criminals. For any help you may need installing new locks, rekeying existing locks, or walking through the overall safety of your home, your local Pop-A-Lock is always ready to help.

Security Systems for Beginners: Why Your Security System Needs Maintenance

Your security system can keep you protected from break-ins, burglary, and even fires, but only if you use it properly. This means activating your security system daily but also performing frequent maintenance checks. After all, if you’ve turned your system on but it fails to communicate with your monitoring provider, it completely defeats the purpose. Follow these tips to keep your security system in good shape and make sure you are protected at all times.

Check The Cameras

If your security system has cameras included, be sure to inspect them frequently. Be sure the cameras themselves are working and that the images or videos are being recorded in the security system.

Also be sure that no trees, bushes, or other objects are obstructing the camera’s view. Trees and bushes can also make an easy place for burglars to hide. Make sure your lawn is well maintained and that your address is not obstructed for emergency services to locate your home.

If your cameras are battery operated, make sure the batteries are fully charged.

Test the Control Panel

Every sensor’s signal passes through your security systems control panel. From here, it interprets each signal to determine whether to activate the alarm. 

Every panel should have a test mode that runs a self-diagnostic test to make sure everything is working properly. Some security systems may require you to notify your monitoring service before running a diagnostic test. If your monitoring service requires this and you fail to do so, emergency services will be sent to your home.

Check Your Sensors Frequently

Walk your premises once a week to check your doors and windows. Be sure the sensors are in place. Most of them use an adhesive that needs to be adjusted or replaced over time. Also, check the frame of the door and make sure there is no rotting, warping, or wearing of insulation that could make the door easier to break down.

As you check that your sensors are in place, make sure they are clear of dust and debris. Keeping your alarm sensors clean will ensure your system is working properly and improve its longevity. This is especially important if your security system has a motion detector sensor. A dusty, clouded motion sensor is more likely to falsely activate than a clear motion sensor.

Lastly, check that all the locks are working on your doors and windows. If you have electronic locks, check the batteries and replace them as needed.

Test Communication with Your Monitoring Service

It’s important to make sure that your sensors and cameras are connected to your security system but even more vital to check that your equipment is communicating with your monitoring service provider’s central station. Otherwise, nobody will know when to contact emergency services.

You’ll need to contact your monitoring services provider before beginning this process and ask them to put your security system in testing mode. If you don’t contact them first, they will think it’s a real emergency.

Press the panic button to make sure the alarm sounds. You can also open any doors or windows that have sensors to make sure they are working properly. Then, contact your monitoring provider to make sure your system is communicating with their central station.

Overall Safety Checks

Check the lighting outside your home. You should have lighting around the whole perimeter of the house. Replace any missing light bulbs and make sure any motion detector lights are functioning properly.

Test your fire alarm to make sure it’s working properly and replace any batteries that are running low. Your fire alarm probably has a carbon monoxide detector built in, but if you have a separate device for this, check that it is also working properly.

Keep fire extinguishers on every level of the home, being sure to keep one in the kitchen. Inspect these extinguishers every month and get them serviced if the pressure gauge reads low.

Lastly, Explain safety procedures to any children in the house, such as fire escape plans. Review house rules with any children in the house. This may include never letting strangers into the house or never giving strangers personal information. 

Keeping your security system up to date is one of the most important things you can do to stay safe in your home. If your system isn’t communicating with the sensors and cameras throughout your house, it serves more as decoration than protection. Even more importantly, if your system isn’t communicating with your monitoring provider, no one will know to contact emergency services.

At Pop-A-Lock, your safety is our number one priority. Click here to learn our top tips on smart security systems.


Key Duplication: What You Need to Know to Stay Safe

Most people will create a copy of their residential house key at some point in their lives. We recommend doing this sooner rather than later – so you’re always prepared. However, there are a few things to keep in mind when creating a duplicate of your house key


How Spare Keys Are Made

First, let’s dive into how key duplications are made. The original key is placed in a tool with a blank key directly on top. The key guide, or alignment bar, ensures they are properly lined up. Then, the key duplicator cuts through the blank key using the original key like a template. Once the tool has created a copy, a lock technician will sand the duplicate to make sure it precisely matches the original. Most keys are made from brass or a nickel-brass mixture. Your lock tech will choose the right kind of blank key to match the existing one. It’s important to always use the original key for duplications. In addition to unique etchings, each key has different depth cuts. By using the original key, duplicates will be more accurate.

You may wonder why you should have professional lock tech duplicate your key instead of using a self-service kiosk. The answer is simple— there’s no way to tell whether those machines are regularly calibrated and maintained. Over time, kiosk machines will likely decline in performance, which means your duplicate key may not actually be a duplicate. Also, these kiosks cannot choose the perfect blank, like a lock tech can. We recommend always using a professional service when getting your key copied.

Why Duplicate a Key?

It’s always better to have a spare key than to be locked out. It helps save a lot of time in emergencies, and may bring you a sense of comfort. There’s a lot of reasons you may want a spare, including:

  • Losing the original— If you lose your original key, the spare can act as a backup until you get it replaced.
  • Getting locked out— This makes getting in your home much quicker and less stressful.
  • Multiple residents in a home who need access— You may need to give a key to each member of the family, including children.
  • Giving a neighbor or family member access— Giving a trusted person access to your home helps in emergencies and when you’re out of town.

Staying Safe With Duplicates

When giving a spare key to a child or young adult, always make sure it’s on a key ring, and teach them how to keep it safe. They shouldn’t carry the key while they’re walking, as this increases the risk of losing the key. This also makes the key visible to others, which could put your child and your home in danger. Children should keep their spare keys in their backpacks until they get home.

You may be duplicating a key so you can give a copy to a neighbor or family member. Always be sure you trust the people you give spare keys to. This can be helpful for several reasons. Specifically, someone with a spare key to your home can check the mail and take out your trash while you’re on vacation. This will also make your home appear occupied, reducing the risk of burglaries.

You may decide you want a copy of your key to store around the perimeter of your home in case of emergencies. In this case, always make sure the key is well-concealed in a creative hiding spot. The worst spot to hide your spare key is under a doormat, or in a flower pot near the door. These are obvious locations for burglars to find them. Instead, try hiding the key:

  • In a magnetic key holder located under your car
  • In a fake hollow rock that blends in with its surroundings
  • In the grill or doghouse in the backyard
  • In a birdhouse
  • Underneath the foam liner in a shoe

Regardless of why you want to duplicate your house key, there’s a smart way to do it. Always go to a locksmith over a kiosk to make sure you have a quality duplicate. Only share your key with trusted individuals and never hide it in plain sight. By having a spare key on hand, you’re saving money and avoiding stress. Pop-A-Lock is here for all your locksmithing needs. Whether it’s duplicating a house key, replacing a car key, or installing brand new locks on your home, we’ve got you covered. Stay safe with Pop-A-Lock!

Renting a Property? Know How to Keep Yourself Safe

Cardboard facade of a house with a gift tag reading 'For Rent' looped through the window.

Safety tip #1: Secure main entrances

Most entrance doors have deadbolts installed on them. Although you can use either a single- or double-cylinder deadbolt, it’s a good idea to install a double-cylinder deadbolt as it is more secure. If you have the main entrance near a window, a double-cylinder deadbolt can prevent a thief from reaching through the window and opening the door.

You can also improve the safety of your entrances by installing metal or solid wood doors. As much as possible, stay away from hollow wood doors or doors with windows, as these are very easy to break. A solid door is ideal for those who want to fully protect their property.

You can also encourage tenants to use door jammers as an added, simple precaution. And if you have to evict a tenant and aren’t able to get all the keys returned, it’s important to get the locks rekeyed before a new renter moves in.

Safety tip #2: Consider hiring a property manager

You need to maintain your property to ensure you have your renter’s satisfaction. This can be difficult if you live far from your property, work a full-time job, or simply don’t have time to perform regular upkeep on your rental location. Hiring a property manager can not only help with this but also deter would-be burglars because someone is always monitoring and present on the premises.

You may want to hire a property manager to take care of any issues and problems as they arise. Property managers specialize in screening tenants, maintaining the location, and keeping an eye on the area. A property manager can simplify your life by handling all the time-consuming, day-to-day work and making sure your rental is protected.

Safety tip #3: Check the window security

Most windows are fitted with a locking mechanism that prevents them from being opened from the outside. However, in most cases, a burglar can easily break the window and unlock it or climb through. You can combat this risk by installing locks on your windows because if burglars see these, they will probably second guess whether or not to break in.

You can also install window sensors that will sound an alarm if your window is tampered with. Some will even send an alert to your smartphone so you know immediately when your rental property’s security has been breached.

Safety tip #4: Install a security system

A security system may seem like a big investment, but it will help to fully secure your property. There are a variety of security system options, so you’ll find one that fits within your budget and needs. As you shop for a security system, make sure you find one that includes everything you need—like door and window sensors, smoke alarms, and motion-detecting lights.

Many new security devices are very convenient because they’re DIY, so they’re easy to install, and are remotely accessible. As long as you are connected to the device—likely through an app on your smartphone—you’ll be able to use it with ease. Monthly monitoring generally isn’t too expensive, but some tenants may even pay more for the added security.

Safety tip #5: Add external lighting

No burglar wants a spotlight exposing their crime. Fortunately, you can use motion-sensing lights to deter intruders from invading your property. As a precautionary measure, install this security lighting near the main entrances of your home.

You shouldn’t need more than a couple of motion-sensing lights because most of them can detect movement up to dozens of feet away in every direction. Some of them are even solar-powered so you don’t have to worry about replacing batteries or using electricity.

Renting your property can be a good investment, but you need to keep that investment—and your renters—safe. To avoid security issues and ensure that you will benefit from your rental property for years to come, it’s very important to keep it safe and well maintained.

Safety tip #5: Add external lighting

No burglar wants a spotlight exposing their crime. Fortunately, you can use motion-sensing lights to deter intruders from invading your property. As a precautionary measure, install this security lighting near the main entrances of your home.

You shouldn’t need more than a couple of motion-sensing lights because most of them can detect movement up to dozens of feet away in every direction. Some of them are even solar-powered so you don’t have to worry about replacing batteries or using electricity.

Renting your property can be a good investment, but you need to keep that investment—and your renters—safe. To avoid security issues and ensure that you will benefit from your rental property for years to come, it’s very important to keep it safe and well maintained.

How Your Online Presence Might Attract Burglars

Blonde sitting on the floor with their back against a white brick wall typing on a laptop.

Today’s world of social media has made it easier than ever before for people everywhere to stay connected with one another, despite geographic boundaries. It also means that there are more opportunities online for criminals who seek out information on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other platforms to burglarize homes or commit crimes while victims are away traveling or enjoying time off.

In fact, did you know that nearly 80% of burglars use social media to target their victims?

By posting too much about your life online, you may be unknowingly giving away too much information regarding your whereabouts that criminals can use to target you and your family.

Family of three holding hands on the beach walking toward the water.

Posting About Vacations

For example, by posting about your upcoming trip to Hawaii on social media channels while you are at the airport waiting for a flight, it is possible that potential criminals can observe this information. This person may know when you will be away from home and choose to burglarize or steal items in order to capitalize on this opportunity.

Additionally, if these posts continue once you have arrived at your destination (such as images of you and friends frolicking on the beach with drinks), this could indicate that no one else is currently staying in the house, which would make it easier for someone who wants to burglarize or commit other crimes there without getting caught.

Monitoring your online activity before and during your trip is a good way to protect yourself from burglars, especially in the summer months, when more people use social media sites to post about their vacations.

What To Do Instead

Delaying your posts until after you have returned home is a great way of protecting yourself and your family so that your home and belongings are protected while away on vacation or a trip. If possible, it may also be helpful to refrain from posting any pictures of an empty house with indications such as, “I’m off to Hawaii today! Wish me luck! I will update everyone once I land. 🙂 xoxo” online if there are no plans for anyone else (including friends) to stay at this location during this period of time.

Even when you’re not on vacation you should still be wary about what you post on social media. If you’re going on a business trip, or even just staying with friends for the weekend, resist the urge to tweet about your location and where you are headed.

Person holding a cell phone.

Protect Your Profiles

Another way to protect your home and family is to change the privacy settings of your profiles to ensure that your posts are only visible to friends. This can help to keep burglars away from your home because their ability to burglarize or steal items is hindered if they do not know when you will be gone, how long for, and other details about the property.

Almost every social media platform allows for private profiles. This not only lets you keep your plans safe from the wandering eyes of criminals, but also lets you vet anyone who tries to follow you prior to giving them access to your personal life.

It’s Not Just About Vacations

In the same way that posting about your location can be dangerous, posting too much about your day-to-day life, family, and friends can put them at risk. For example, if you continually post about your childrens’ school events or trips, this can give burglars, or even kidnappers, too much information. They will know when you are typically home throughout the day, what school your child or children attend, and may even be able to find out what kind of car you drive.

Even though we live in an age of online sharing where everything seems like it should be public knowledge, taking precautions such as delaying posts about certain aspects of your life (such as vacation plans) until after you have returned home will help protect you and those close to you from becoming victims of crime while away on trips or vacations.

The Pop-A-Lock Checklist to Making Sure Your Home is Secure

A family of three sitting around a white table.

Home is where the heart is – for most people, that’s their family. We’re sure you want to keep them safe. According to the FBI, there are over 1 million burglaries a year in the United States, with the average value stolen being $2,600. Unfortunately, burglaries aren’t the only threat. Roughly 350,000 home fires occur a year. Precautions to avoid these events are simple but often overlooked. Follow these guidelines to secure your home and keep you comfortable.

Roses climbing up a trellis leaned against a house with light gray siding. Plants are growing up the wall near a window.

Keep Your Yard Neat

Believe it or not, an unkempt yard can put you in danger. Tall bushes provide a place for burglars to hide from yourself and neighbors. Overgrown vegetation near windows can be especially dangerous in providing a way for burglars to discreetly sneak in. Excess foliage also makes fires easier to spread. In the event of a fire or a burglary, you’ll likely try to call 911.  Tall bushes will conceal your home number, making it difficult for emergency services to find your home quickly. By keeping bushes short, you can reduce hiding spots , prevent the spread of a fire, and increase the efficiency of receiving help in an emergency.

The outside of a house with outdoor lamps lighting the way.

Light Your Home and Advertise Your Security System

A lit entrance to your home is also very important. Burglars aren’t looking for a challenge. Make sure the driveway and entrance to your home are lit at night. Keep the backyard lit as well. You may even consider motion sensor lights or flood lights, which help to deter burglars. Also, it is important to keep the signs of your home security company visible. Burglars are three times more likely to rob a home that lacks home security. So keeping stickers on all your windows and a home security sign by the front door will help keep you safe.

A key in a door lock.

Secure Your Doors

Oftentimes, burglars will kick down a door that is locked. Keeping the deadbolt locked on doors will make this much harder. Most doors already have a deadbolt, but they can be easily installed if your door doesn’t already have one.

Sliding doors should also be double secured with a dowel rod or some kind of additional lock. Doors should fit tightly into their frames so they are not flimsy. Weather stripping can help secure a loose fitting door. Take it a step further by installing a heavier door made from metal clad or solid wood. These differ from hollow wooden doors or doors with glass windows that could be broken in just moments with little effort .

You’ll also want a way to see outside your door without opening it. Most front doors already have a peep hole, but if yours doesn’t, it’s smart to install one as soon as possible. Another alternative is a doorbell camera. Not only can you see who’s there when the doorbell is rung, but they typically save video footage of your front door throughout the day in case of any suspicious activity.

Stay Equipped For Fire Safety

Every home should be equipped with a fire extinguisher, smoke detector, and carbon monoxide detector. Roughly 50% of house fires occur in the kitchen due to cooking. It is important to keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen for this reason. Additionally, be sure to replace your smoke detector batteries as soon as they go out. Most smoke detectors have a built-in carbon monoxide detector as well but if yours doesn’t, consider getting a separate device. Carbon monoxide is silent and deadly making a detector extremely important for your safety at home.

Two people sitting on swings facing each other.

Know Your Neighbors

In addition to the appearance and equipment in your home, it is important to know your neighbors. Get to know your neighbors on both sides of your home as well as across the street. They can keep you in the loop when you’re out of town or at work if they notice some unusual activity.

Take Precautions When Out of Town

Avoid sharing your vacation on the internet until you’ve returned home. Don’t tell anyone you’re leaving, except people you trust, like your family and neighbors. Have your neighbors keep an extra key on hand and collect your mail for you. Burglars will often choose a house that looks empty or has an overflowing mailbox. It is also a good idea to set a timer for the lights to stay on inside from the morning till about 6 p.m. After all, 65% of burglaries happen during the day while people are at work.

Pop-A-Lock puts your safety first. If you find yourself locked out, Pop-A-Lock will get a technician to you so you don’t have to break a window. We also have electronic locks if you’re looking to update your residential lock system. When following these guidelines, you will be able to enjoy quality time in your home, feeling safe and secure.

Home Alone: How Hero Kevin McCallister Kept His Home Safe

Season Greetings

While there are several simple steps you can take to protect your home, Kevin McCallister went the extra mile to stay secure. Left behind while his family is in Paris, Kevin notices some suspicious activity and has to find a way to fend for himself. Braver than the average homeowner, Kevin shows us some ways we can keep our home secure this holiday season.

Be Careful Who You Trust

Stay safe by keeping your plans to yourself and those you trust. The classic mistake the McCallister family made in the beginning of the movie is telling the burglar they’d be going out of town. Sure, maybe the burglar was dressed as a cop at the time, but you can never be too careful. If you’re going to be away from your home, it’s best to only tell the neighbors you’re close with. This also means resisting the temptation to post pictures of you at the beach or Times Square. Everyone has access to the internet, so it’s best to wait till you’re back from vacation to brag online.

Season Festive

Keep it Lit

They may have spilled their plans to the wrong guy, but at least they kept their house lit while gone. It is important to keep your home well lit to deter burglars and to easily spot abnormal activity. This includes not only the front door but the back of the house as well. Keeping each side of the home well-lit will make every point of entry more secure. Take it to the next step by creating timers for indoor lights to make it appear that someone is home. Kevin was sure to flip the basement light on the second he heard noises outside the door.

Signs of Activity

The burglars knew someone was home when they saw the light switch on, but they got really confused when they saw a whole party at the so-called empty house. Kevin was clever when he tied swings to mannequins to create dancing silhouettes from street view. Paired with holiday music and a cardboard cutout attached to a toy train, the burglars were easily fooled. I know we may not all have several mannequins laying around, but some implied human activity can still help deter burglars. Have your neighbors collect your mail or bring in your trash can. Afterall, burglars are more likely to choose the house with the overflowing mailbox.

Season Holidays

Home Security

We all know the classic “ya filthy animal” science in Home Alone. The second time the burglars came to the door, Kevin played a movie to sound like real dialogue. To make it even more believable, he added firecrackers to a pot the moment gun shots went off in the movie. Talk about special effects. While the movie audio was a great source of defense for Kevin, a home security system may be more practical for the average homeowner.

Toward the end of the movie, things start to get more intense. The burglars discover that Kevin is home alone and decide to finally rob the house, despite him being a child. Christmas Eve at 9 o-clock, Kevin maps out his plan. He is very strategic, creating a guard of defense at just about every corner of the home. 

Glass ornaments under the window, icy stairs, and tar on the basement steps all delay the burglars’ bad intentions. Hot doorknobs and heavy irons falling from the laundry shoot act as booby traps. He even lures them across a makeshift zipline just to cut the wires before they can make it across. Eventually, the burglars get Kevin in their grip. Just as Kevin sees his life flash before his eyes, the quiet neighbor comes to the rescue and the burglars get hauled away in a cop car. 

If the McCallisters simply had a home security system, Kevin probably could’ve avoided all these extra steps. 

While we love to give Kevin props for his cleverness, there’s some easier take aways to keep your home safe:

  • Be careful who you tell when you’re leaving town
  • Keep the house well lit on every side
  • Keep indoor lights on a timer
  • Have a trustworthy neighbor take out your trash and collect your mail
  • Invest in home security and keep the signs posted

We can’t all be heroes, but we can be smart when it comes to our home. If these tips and movie recaps weren’t enough, check out the home security audit on our website for a full checklist on staying secure.

Pop-A-Lock’s Top 10 Ways to Keep Your Outdoor Property Secure

Cozy porch with wicker couch and chairs in front of a stone fireplace.

Though exposed to the elements, our outdoor property is hardly less important than what we keep inside. From grills to gardening equipment to your treasured heirloom gnome, there is an assortment of valuables resting in our front and back yards. Only, with these treasures, we seem perfectly fine with leaving them in the open for all to see. 

If you’re bent on remaining the block’s ultimate grill master (i.e., keeping your equipment away from thieves), read on to learn 10 handy tricks to secure your outdoor property.

Top 10 Ways to Secure Your Yard

1. Put it Inside

No matter your security measures, nothing beats the safety of the great indoors. If you keep an array of items you can’t live without — flat screens, sound systems, gardening equipment — outside, it may be best to bring them into a designated indoor storage area such as your garage before dark each day. At the very least, consider putting your items in a shed or outdoor lockbox. After all: out of sight, out of mind. If a thief can’t see anything worth their time at first glance, they’re less likely to snoop around.

2. Install Flood Lights

Across the U.S., burglary rates increase by 10% from daytime to night, revealing a pretty intuitive truth: thieves crave the cover of darkness. Not only are passersby or property owners less likely to spot them, they’re also more likely to be knocked cold sleeping. A motion-sensing floodlight can solve the former. No matter if animal or man creeps past, motion-sensing flood lights will leap to action, bathing the intruder in light while lending the impression that their every movement is being watched.

3. Increase Visibility

Thieves are more likely to target lawns with plenty of hiding spots. Large shrubs and tall grass provide excellent coverage, while unkempt foliage implies absence, making your home even more likely to be targeted. The solution is simple: keep your yard clean. Trim those hedges, mow that grass, tame that ivy — anything to improve visibility. If you want to go the extra mile, you can even consider planting a few cacti or burglar-proofing your landscaping on the whole.

4. Install a Security System

This option is slightly lower on our list due to high costs and maintenance, but in reality, nothing beats a top-of-the-line outdoor security system in terms of protection. Not only do video systems allow for easy monitoring of all outdoor activity, but the very sight of a camera or alarm system can also be enough to scare away a thief. You could say they’re a bit camera-shy.

5. Give the Appearance of Security

Just because a system is out of your budget doesn’t mean you have to settle for subpar security. Often, the mere appearance of a high-end security system can be enough to give thieves second thoughts since, most of the time, they’re not ones for researching. To look thief-proof, you can install fake security cameras (they still have very real-looking blinking red lights), in addition to security company yard signs and window decals.

6. Padlock Your Shed

While sheds make for an excellent space to stash and preserve outdoor equipment, they’re also one of the most frequently burglarized property items — mainly due to their owner’s lack of security. As such, it’s important to attach a sturdy, weather-proof padlock to your shed’s door handles (and be sure to lock up before heading inside after a day of gardening!)

7. Use a Steel Cable

Think your outdoor sports bar lounge is pretty sweet? So does the neighborhood thief. While locking up your flatscreen and grilling equipment seems obvious, your furniture is also a target and deserves protection as well. One way to achieve this is through using a steel cable — a flexible cord found at nearly every hardware store. After wrapping the cable around furniture legs and flossing it between every item, you can then affix a padlock to secure both ends of the cable, effectively tying everything together. This makes it nearly impossible for a thief to run off with a chair without dragging the entire set behind them.

8. Fortify Your Fence

Often, yards are burglarized as a result of shoddy fencing. If your fence is falling apart, replete with gaps, or using gate locks that no longer work, it might be time to revamp your fort. Looming, metal fences or fences with minimal spacing between planks are best at deterring burglars. If you want to get real intimidating, you can even fix metal spikes at the top of the fence as a kind of bougie barbed wire.

9. Install Gate Alarms

It’s understandable to not want an outdoor alarm blaring for the whole block to hear, but pool and yard gate alarm systems can be a great way to both alert you to nefarious activity and scare away impending intruders.

10. Get a Dog

If your dog’s bark is bigger than his bite, he’d make an excellent doggie defense system. Having an outdoor dog reduces your chances of being burglarized drastically since no thief wants to battle Fido over some lawn chairs. Putting up a “Beware of Dog” sign regardless of your dog’s real temperament can further drill home the point: your yard is off-limits.

Young blonde child in a blue tank top holding a garden hose with water spraying out of it and putting their hand into the water stream.

We Mow Down Yard Thieves

Not literally, of course. That said, Pop-A-Lock’s home security audit is sure to put local thieves out of business. After searching high and low for security weak points on your property, one of our safety experts will recommend solutions to fortify your home. Call today for a free quote or visit our site for more info.