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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/

5 Signs Your Lock Might Need to be Replaced

5 Signs Your Lock Might Need to be Replaced

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

5 Signs That Lock Needs To Go

1. Damaged or malfunctioning

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

2. Wear and tear

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

3. New home or apartment

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

4. Recent break-in

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

5. Security changes

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

We’ll handle those locks

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

How to Hide Your Spare Keys, the Clever Way

How to Hide Your Spare Keys, the Clever Way

key under doormat

No one plans on getting locked out of their homes, but anything can happen in the course of a busy day: keys can get lost, broken, or — in the worst case — stolen. Whatever the reason, the annoyance of losing your trusted key can turn to panic if it’s your only way back inside. To avoid calling a locksmith or that friend who’s bailed you out too many times, it helps to keep a spare key on the premises as a backup. But with added security comes added risk, especially if you plan on hiding your spare outside. With some careful planning, however, you can rest assured that your spare key is kept secret, and you’ll always have a fail-safe way to enter your home. 

Does Secrecy Matter?

If you think a half-inch doormat is going to thwart a burglar, think again. These criminals are experts on residential habits — they reside somewhere too, after all — and know all the commonplace hiding spots for spare keys. Since obtaining a spare means easy entry for burglars, they’ll thoroughly scan front yards when selecting targets, searching for tell-tale signs of hidden keys. Homeowners should be on high alert: dropping your spares in obvious spaces leaves you vulnerable to robbery, so if you’re going to outsmart a crook, you’ll need to look beyond doormats and flowerpots, and on to covert stash-spots. 

dropped keys

Top 5 Key Storage Devices

While fake rocks are cliche and obvious, fear not: you can still hide your key on your property through an assortment of discreet and innovative key-holders disguised as common lawn equipment. Typically found online, these holders run anywhere from $5 – $20 — proof you don’t need to break the bank to beef up your home’s security. 

  1. Faux Electrical Outlet:
  2. Sprinkler:
  3. Drain Cap:
  4. Garden Accessories:
  5. Lockbox:
key hiding places

Top 5 On-Property Hiding Locales

You don’t need to drop money on fake-out key holders to keep your spares safe. Your lawn and its surrounding fixtures contain a plethora of nooks and crannies fit for a key. 

  1. Bottle Method:
  2. Door Knocker:
  3. The Smaller House(s):
  4. License Plate:
  5. Tree:
garden space

Your Safety is Our Priority

Everyone deserves to feel secure in their home, and Pop-A-Lock believes in informing homeowners of any and all measures they can take to ensure their safety. Hiding a spare key is a good first-step, but if you’re in need of a little extra reassurance, call to speak with one of our expert locksmiths, or check out our website to learn more about our rekeying, lock repair, and installation services.

Secure Your Suitcase With these Helpful Tips

Secure Your Suitcase With these Helpful Tips

traveling with suitcase

Your possessions are never at greater risk than when you’re traveling. No hate to airport workers or your packing checklist abilities, but anything can happen in transit from one bucket-list location to another: suitcases fall open when sliding into luggage claim, zippers  break from frequent use,, or — in the worst case scenario — a lack of visible security can luer ne’er-do-wells into breaking open your bags and stealing your property. Though we tend to think about personal security in terms of online password protection or home surveillance, portable property like suitcases deserve the utmost protection as well. Here, we’ll go over the best ways to secure the bag. 

Does suitcase security matter?

When traveling, your suitcase is your life on wheels, and it’s a hub for sensitive materials — everything from your passport to your treasured plush toy. With all of these belongings in one place, and being dragged from one location to another, the risk of losing something valuable increases greatly. Thieves are aware of this fact too, and tend to target travelers whose attentions are divided while checking into hotels or gazing at maps of unknown cities. For these reasons, it’s important to seek out luggage with built-in security help, or to trick-out your current case with locks or tamper-proof devices.

Suitcase Checklist

Tamper-proof suitcase tips

  • TSA Compliant Locks:

Attaching a small combination lock to one or more of your zippers is one of the most common luggage security fixes. However, it’s important to note that you cannot padlocks or any old combination lock to your suitcase, no matter the heightened security these might provide. If you’re flying to or from airports within the United States or Canada, only TSA-friendly locks are permitted to fly. As mentioned above, these locks are small combination locks that can be opened through a universal key in case screening staff need to inspect your luggage. 

  • Numbered cable ties:

Another, more cost-efficient luggage securement method is numbered cable ties. While common cable ties are another effective method for binding your zippers together — simply thread the pointed end of the zip-tie through the open hole where the zippers meet, and pull through – numbered or “serialized” cable ties offer unique advantages, as they can’t be replicated. 

That being said, this is merely a method to tamper-proof your bag; since most zipper suitcases can be opened using a ballpoint pen, zip ties or any other zipper locking mechanism cannot guarantee the safety of the bag’s contents. However, cable ties work as great deterrents, while numbered cable ties can help serve as proof of tampering should your luggage arrive opened or with a common zip-tie replacement. 

  • Tamperlock:

When in doubt, turn to luggage security experts. Tamperlock is a luggage security service that ships tamper-proof seals directly to you. You then only need to follow three steps to seal your bags: first, loop the supplied zip tie through the hole in your zipper, and then through the Tamperlock tag. From here, palace your zipper in line with the bag’s handle, then loop the tag around the handle. Finally, secure the numbered tag in place. 

  • HomingPIN tags:

Though there are several high-end luggage tracking options on the market, if you’re looking for a low-cost way to monitor your bags, HomingPIN is the service for you.

After registering your contact details on the site, plus noting basic information about the size, type and color of your bags, you travel as normal. The tags are integrated with lost-luggage services at every airport, meaning if your suitcase disappears in transit, carriers and ground handlers have all the information they need to track you down and get your bag back to you.

 

  • Luggage wrapping services:

If you’re worried about people cutting the fabric, forcing the zipper or tampering with the lock to get stuff out of (or put things into) your bag, consider a luggage wrapping service. Vendors offer this option in many major US and international airports, typically using a machine to encase backpacks and suitcases in many layers of transparent plastic film. There’s also some limited protection that comes with all that plastic – your gear will still get damaged when the baggage handler drops or crushes it, but minor scratches, spills, and rain will only affect the wrapping, not the valuable contents.

Suitcase

Pop-A-Lock has the key to security

We may not specialize in suitcase security, but we do know a thing or two about keeping your home, business, and automobiles safe. From 24/7 lockout assistance to smart lock installation, we’ve got your back. Call PAL today to get a free quote, or check out our website to learn more!

Traveling Passport

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!

The Secrets You Need to Know About Hiding Spare Keys

The Secrets You Need to Know About Hiding Spare Keys

spare key outside home

While no one plans on getting locked out of their homes, this unfortunate situation is always a possibility. As such, having a spare key can come in handy, allowing you to skip the panic and hassle of calling a locksmith. But with this added security comes added risk, especially if you plan on hiding  your spare outside your residence. With some careful planning, however, you can rest assured that your spare key is kept secret, and you’ll always have a fail-safe way to enter your home. 

Why Spare Keys Help

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

spare key

Don't Be Dumb

If you’ve seen that old key-in-a-plastic-rock routine, so have burglars. Yes, they also know about other spare key hotspots like door-ledges, mailboxes, and  porch lights. Leaving your spare keys in obvious spaces leaves you vulnerable to robbery, so if you’re going to outsmart a crook, you’ll need to look beyond doormats and flowerpots, and on to less-likely stash spots.

Clever Places to Hide Your Spare

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

Your Safety is Our Priority

Everyone deserves to feel secure in their homes, and Pop-A-Lock believes in informing homeowners of any and all measures they can take to ensure their safety. Hiding a spare key is a good first-step, but if you’re in need of a little extra reassurance, call to speak with one of our expert locksmiths, or check out our website to learn more about our rekeying, lock repair, and installation services.

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 A Key Gets Stuck In The Ignition and What This Means for You

How A Key Gets Stuck In The Ignition and What This Means for You

Key stress

Cars  are our main mode of transportation, which makes it that much more stressful when something is wrong with our precious vehicles. This is particularly true when you run into a problem, such as your key getting stuck in the ignition, and don’t know who to call, let alone how to fix it yourself.

key stress phone call

Turn Your Car Off Properly

Oftentimes, especially when you’re in a hurry, it’s very easy to miss crucial steps to turn your car off. Many automatic transmission vehicles come with a safety feature that prevents the driver from removing the key from the ignition when the car is not in park or neutral. Before trying anything else, make sure to check that your shifter  is in one of these two positions.

Another reason your key might be stuck in the ignition is because you did not properly turn the car itself off. In order to turn the vehicle off, the key must be turned all the way into the lock position (in most cars, this means all the way down). If your key is not coming out of the ignition, try turning the car on again and turning it off properly before attempting to forcefully yank the key out.

stuck key in ignition

Keyhole Obstructions

Once you have ascertained that your car is in the proper gear, it’s time to move onto the next reason why your key may be stuck: dirt, dust, or other particles blocking your key from being removed from the keyhole. It is very possible that debris has gotten into the keyhole, but it is not something to worry about. To get your key out, you have 3 options:

  • Spray WD40 into the keyhole to loosen up the dirt that may be obstructing the hole.
  • Gently wiggle the key back and forth, which should also loosen up any debris that may be blocking the keyway.
  • Call a locksmith for professional help if neither of the above options are possible or working.
cleaning your dashboard

Steering Wheel Locked

If your key is stuck in the ignition and you find that your car’s steering wheel is also locked in place, it is possible that you  have inserted the wrong key. Locking the steering wheel is a safety feature on most vehicles that is present in case the incorrect key is inserted. Fixing this is the simple process of turning the steering wheel slowly to the left and then to the right while applying slight pressure to the key. Once you have enough pressure, you should be able to unlock the steering wheel and remove the key from the slot.

A Broken Key

The worst case scenario in a situation like this is that your key has broken, causing it to be stuck in the ignition. This may happen more often with duplicate keys, as they are weaker than the originals. You have two options when it comes to a broken key:

  •  Use a key extractor tool and attempt to remove the piece of broken key that is stuck in the keyway. If this tool is not available to you in the moment, or if this solution is not working, your best option is to:
  • Call a locksmith. Having an experienced, professional set of hands on the job will be the best bet for you if the key breaks off inside the ignition.

Additionally,  it is always important to pay attention to the general state of your car key before putting it into the ignition. If the key already looks damaged, prone to damage, or is flimsy in any way, it has a higher chance of breaking off inside of the ignition.

A Dead Car Battery

A final reason why you may not be able to remove the key from the ignition is a dead car battery. The fix for this is fairly simple: to check if your battery is in fact dead, try turning on your headlights or turn signals. If these are not working, your car battery is most likely dead. Once you have ascertained that this is the case, simply jump-starting your car will allow you to remove the key from the ignition keyway.

Conclusion

Though having a key lodged in the ignition is not an ideal situation, it is important to remember that there is always someone or something out there that can help you. Whether it be a friend jump-starting your car for you, a key extractor tool, or WD40, you will find a way out of this situation. And if you find yourself needing extra help, Pop-A-Lock’s trusted, certified locksmiths are here for you and ready to do so.

My Key Is Stuck In The Lock, What Do I Do Now?

For almost all of us, keys are vital to our everyday lives. They are essential instruments that allow us to gain or prevent entrance to our homes and offices, how we operate our vehicles, and how we keep our possessions secure. What happens then, when the keys you depend on so much fail to let you in, or get stuck in a lock? It happens more than you think, and it can happen in your car, home, or office.

Key Stuck in Lock

Fortunately, Pop-A-Lock is there for you when it happens. You can give us a call, and we can help you avoid damaging your door lock or vehicle ignition when trying to retrieve your key.

To better help you understand how keys get stuck and what you should do when it happens, we’ve included some helpful information below.

Key stuck in Car Lock

How Keys Get Stuck in the Ignition

There are a few main reasons a key may get stuck in a car ignition: problems with related components of the vehicle, issues with the key itself, or issues with the ignition lock cylinder.

1. Transmission gear selector is not in park. An automatic transmission is designed so that you cannot remove your key unless the car is in park. If your key gets stuck in your ignition, there may be a chance that you didn’t shift entirely into park when you turned off the car. If this is the case, there’s an easy fix. Shift into park and remove your key!

2. Dead battery. If there is no power running through the electronic ignition system in your vehicle, it may fail to release your key. A quick way to determine if you have a battery problem is to open your car door and see if your inside lights come on. If they don’t, a battery issue may be to blame, and your local Pop-A-Lock will be able to diagnose, andl likely even fix.

3. If you don’t have a transmission gear selector or battery issue, the issue may be with the key itself. Over time, keys can get dirty, bent, and worn down from daily use. You can also bend your key out of shape if you’ve used it as a tool to open things or for any other reason than it’s designed use.

Gently wiggling the key can sometimes free it, but you don’t want to use excessive force as this can cause much bigger problems.

4. The car’s lock cylinder not operating correctly. Just as the key can get dirty, the inside of the lock mechanism can, too. Debris in the lock mechanism may be prohibiting the key from being released. In this situation, it is best to call an experienced locksmith as wiggling the key too much may further push debris into the lock mechanism, worsening your problem.

Key Stuck in Lock

How Keys Get Stuck in Door Locks

Keys can get stuck in door locks for similar reasons as vehicle ignitions, such as the key being dirty, or the lock mechanism needing lubrication.

Dirty or misshapen keys and lock mechanisms are also common causes of keys getting stuck in door locks. Debris or worn grooves can prohibit the lock pins from sitting properly against the key, which can cause it to get stuck inside the lock. A lack of lubrication can worsen this issue. Lightly jiggling your key while spraying a pump of WD-40 into the keyhole may release it, but if not, don’t resort to breaking windows when experienced locksmiths are available to help you get the key out of the lock without doing any damage.

Call Pop-A-Lock For Key Extraction

There are a multitude of reasons that a key may get stuck in a door lock or an ignition. Fortunately, Pop-A-Lock is there for you, and you don’t have to worry. Our technicians are certified and skilled in key extraction and ignition repair, so you can rest assured that your property is safe in our hands. Visit our website to find the Pop-A-Lock that is closest to you so that you can get your key back as smoothly and quickly as possible.

Pop-A-Lock Fixing Key Stuck in Locks