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Locked Out? When to Call for Help and When to Do it Yourself (And How)

We’ve all experienced that dreaded moment of being locked outside of our own home. In many cases, it can be tempting to try and break in. Not only can this damage your door, but it can look suspicious to people passing by if they do not know you. If you must break into your own home, we have a few tips on how to do so.

What to do Before Trying to Open the Door Yourself

Attempting to break into your house can leave you with a damaged lock, doorknob, or door frame. If you’re considering hacking your way into your home, walk through these steps first.

  1. Get A Spare Key From a Family Member, Friend, or Neighbor

Maybe you lent your key to a neighbor so they could watch your house when you went on vacation. Or maybe you gave a spare key to a friend or family member for this exact reason. Either way, if you’ve given anyone a spare key to your house, see if they can let you in.

  1. Call Another House Member

If your house member isn’t home and they aren’t locked outside with you, they more than likely have a key in their possession. Though having a house member come to your rescue is ideal, you may not always have the luxury.

  1. Call Your Landlord or Apartment Concierge

If you rent a house or an apartment, it should be fairly easy to get back in. Either your landlord or the office of your apartment complex will have a key to your place. However, if it’s after hours you may be out of luck.

  1. Check for an Open Window or Back Door

Though it’s never a good idea to leave any door or window open, it’s worth a shot to check in this case. Do note, however, that if an upstairs window is unlocked, it is not worth it to attempt climbing up your roof to get in. It’s always better to play it safe, even if that means waiting for a locksmith to come to your location.

When Should You Do it Yourself? And How.

If you do attempt to unlock your door yourself, be sure you have an adequate reason to do so. If you’re truly in a time pinch and can’t wait for a technician to reach you, we have some tips on how you can unlock your front door. However, these methods only work if you have certain tools available – even if those tools are things like a credit card and bobby pins.

  1. Use a Credit Card

Credit cards aren’t just for emergency purchases – they can be used to unlock your door in an emergency. Simply place your card between your door and the door frame. Then, press the card away from the doorknob and towards the frame of the door to undo the latch. Keep in mind, this could damage your card so it’s best to use a plastic card you no longer need.

This method will only work on a spring bolt. If you have a deadbolt lock, you’ll need to try a different method.

  1. Remove the Doorknob

If you have a Phillips screwdriver, you can try removing it altogether. Unlike other methods, removing the doorknob is non-damaging so it can be a great place to start. However, this method will not work if your doorknob is tamper-proof. 

  1. Pick the Lock

Picking a lock sounds simple but it can be the most challenging option to unlock your door. You can use this step-by-step method to pick the lock with hairpins but it won’t work as efficiently as professional locksmithing tools would. 

When to Call a Locksmith

At the end of the day, your best option to unlock your door is to call a professional locksmith. A trained technician will be able to get you back into your home without damaging your locks. Plus, a professional locksmith can make a copy of your house key so you don’t end up in this situation again.

If you wind up locked out of your residential home, a Pop-A-Lock expert will be happy to assist you. Your safety is our number one priority, and we aim to get you back on track quickly, safely, and at an affordable price. For all of your locksmithing needs, your local Pop-A-Lock is here to help!

 

Warehouse Security Tips: How to Keep Your Commercial Work Space Safe

Between the high square footage and the abundance of products stored within their walls, warehouses are significantly vulnerable to theft. The number of goods found inside can be enticing to potential burglars and the vastness of a warehouse can provide ample opportunity for thieves to sneak around. However, if you implement these security measures, rest assured your building, your products, and your employees will be safe.

Here are a few things to consider when assessing the safety of your commercial warehouse.

Electronic and Biometric Locks

Though traditional locks may be appropriate in a typical office setting, they often won’t be a safe choice for a warehouse building. As the number of key copies grows, so does the risk of theft. Traditional keys can easily get lost or placed into the wrong hands. 

Electronic locks allow access through a passcode, which closes the gap for who can access a building. Not only does it eliminates the risk of losing physical keys, but a passcode cannot be stolen. The passcodes for these locks can also be changed periodically for more secure access. If someone needs access for a limited amount of time, they can be given a time-sensitive code to access the building. After the designated time has passed, the code will no longer work.

Biometric locks take security one step further. These locks require a fingerprint or retina scan to access the building. Biometric locks are by far the most secure because there is no faking someone else’s fingerprint.

Reinforce Entryways

Highly secure locks will go a long way in protecting your warehouse but only if they are supported by secure entryways. Be sure to install strong deadbolts, long high-durability screws, and heavy steel doors. 

To make sure your doors are secured in their frames, consider changing out ½ inch screws for 3 ½ inch screws. This will make the door significantly harder to kick in. 

For rolling doors, using high-strength locking mechanisms and thicker-gauge steel can prevent most intrusion attempts. Windows should be reinforced and kept locked whenever the warehouse is not in use. Rolling steel shutters can help further secure windows while protecting the building from natural disasters.

Motion Detection Alarms

Motion detection can alert you and your monitoring provider when someone is on your premises that shouldn’t be. When unwanted movement is detected on your business’ property, a signal is sent to your security system’s control panel, which then goes to your monitoring provider’s central system.

Oftentimes, your monitoring provider will investigate the movement and determine the next steps – whether that’s activating a message through the warehouse speakers or contacting emergency services. 

Be Thorough with Your Lighting

Poorly lit areas in a warehouse present two issues – safety hazards for employees navigating the space and a greater ability for criminals to hide. 

Every corner of a warehouse should be well lit, including the perimeter of the building. This will keep employees safe, prevent criminals from sneaking around the premises, and ensure quality video surveillance. Well-lit video surveillance makes it easier for a monitoring provider to identify a threat and take appropriate action. If your warehouse is not lit properly, motion detection security may not be as effective.

Fire Prevention

Building fires can have drastic results in any situation, but especially when a warehouse full of valuable products is at stake. Modern fire prevention such as fire sprinklers, fire exit doors, and fire extinguishers should be installed throughout the building.

Be sure your employees know the proper fire escape routes and establish a designated meeting ground.

Perimeter Protection

Stopping criminals before they even gain access inside the building is critical to keeping your employees and your products secure. After all, the perimeter of the building must be breached before a crime can take place. 

While traditional security equipment like CCTV can record footage and alert you after the fact, they are not capable of intervening with criminal activity.  Proactive video monitoring technologies that trigger an alert to your monitoring provider will be immediately investigated through a live feed, thus more effective than CCTV.

Depending on your provider and the technology, a security specialist will be able to address the intruder with an audio warning instructing them to leave the property. Many monitoring technologies also allow remote notification to on-site warehouse security. Essentially, proactive video monitoring functions as a 24/7 security guard for your warehouse.

Glass Break Sensors

Glass break protection signals an alarm if a panel of glass has been broken or shattered. It works by detecting noise or vibrations coming from the glass. If the vibrations exceed a certain threshold, indicating the glass has been broken, your alarm provider’s monitoring center will be notified.

Keeping your warehouse secure doesn’t have to be complex. By following these essential security measures, you can have peace of mind that your warehouse is safe. For commercial security solutions and lock hardware installation, your local Pop-A-Lock is happy to help! 

How Safe Is Your Apartment? Security Tips for Renters

Searching for a new apartment can be an exciting process, but there’s a lot of things to keep in mind. You want your new place to feel safe and inviting. But how can you tell if your new apartment is the right one for you? Aside from the obvious location, price, and amenities people first consider, it’s important to recognize the safety of a potential apartment as well. Here are some safety tips to keep in mind before, and after, you find a new apartment.

Landlord Credentials

One of the most important things to do before renting an apartment is to check your landlord’s credentials. A legitimate rental company will have a professional website and licenses for all their properties. It is easy to find out if your landlord has these credentials online by Googling their name. It is also a good idea to ask residents about the landlord.

Entrance to the Complex

A gated entrance can be an excellent deterrent for thieves, but they aren’t all created equal. Check the hours, if any, that the gates are open during the day. Gates that use a clicker are often more secure than a passcode entry, since only the residents can have access.  Check out the apartment public areas, like the pool and gym. These should also require a key or access code. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the complex’s security features.

General Maintenance

Apartment grounds that are well maintained are a good sign of safety and a better experience overall. Take a look at fences on the property to make sure they’re not broken or missing boards. Overgrown landscaping, peeling paint, and broken lights are a dead giveaway for neglected apartment spaces.

Local Crime Rates

When touring a new apartment complex, research what crime rates are like in the area. Ask your landlord about the noise level and nightlife. If you’re an active person who likes to stay out late, make sure it’s a safe neighborhood for you to walk around in.  Avoid apartment complexes near abandoned buildings or factories, since they will often attract unwanted activity. 

Now that you’ve decided where you want to live, there are some steps to take toward making your own apartment safer.

Purchase Renter’s Insurance

​​Though landlords have rental insurance to cover the building you live in, this will not cover your personal property. Most landlords require their tenants to have renter’s insurance, but you should invest in it regardless. Renter’s insurance is an inexpensive policy that covers theft, damage, and loss of personal belongings. Don’t wait until you have a horror story about pipes bursting and flooding your apartment. Have renter’s insurance ready the day you move in.

Make Sure Doors and Windows Are Secure

Make sure all your windows and doors are sealed tightly. Make sure all locks work properly. Bolt locks work best on windows, while deadbolts are better for doors. Consider getting a door chain (with your landlord’s permission) to put across the door when you’re home alone, or at night to prevent any unwanted visitors. 

Make sure you have blinds on all your windows, and keep them shut at night and early in the morning when it’s still dark. Be mindful of what can be seen when your blinds are open. It’s not uncommon for thieves to “window shop” before robbing an apartment. Don’t leave valuable items in the window’s line of sight. 

Don’t Forget to Lock Up

There’s no use checking the locks on your apartment if you don’t use them. If you’re leaving your apartment for any period of time, even just to walk the dog outside, make sure all doors and windows are locked. Just because it is daytime outside, doesn’t mean thieves aren’t out there waiting to take advantage of busy citizens.

Meet Your Neighbors

Get to know the people living around you and exchange numbers in case of an emergency. Make sure you stay connected to the neighborhood by getting to know your neighbors and looking out for each other. If something seems off, report suspicious activity right away. You can also encourage crime awareness among others through social media or handing out flyers letting people know how to prevent theft.

Keep Your Balcony Clean

Your balcony is a place to get fresh air, not a storage unit. If you have a lot of personal items on your balcony, consider moving items inside, or asking the landlord about a storage room. Thieves will often climb balconies to gain access to open windows and unlocked doors. Your balcony acts as a preview of what you may have in your home. Keep it clean and well lit at night.

Consider Investing in a Safe

If you have valuable items that you keep in your rented apartment, it might be worth investing in a safe. A small safe (under 10 pounds) should suffice, but this will vary from person to person. A safe will also protect personal paperwork from fires. If this is your first time purchasing a safe, here are some helpful things to consider.

It is important to consider the safety of your apartment before, and after, you move in. By scoping out a potential apartment complex and analyzing the security and maintenance, you’ll be one step ahead in securing your rented space. After moving in, be sure to keep doors locked, windows closed, and valuables stored away. Create a community by getting to know your neighbors, and make sure you’re all prepared with these top safety tips.

Living Alone? Here Are Our Top Safety Tips

The thought of living along can be both exciting and scary. On one hand, you can keep your home as clean or messy as you want, listen to music at maximum volume, sit in silence, or parade around the house in whatever clothes you please. Living alone allows complete control over your space and how you use it.

On the flip side, it also means you have to take your personal safety into greater consideration. Though living alone can sound dangerous, if you follow these simple precautions, you’ll get to enjoy your newfound independence with peace of mind.

Connecting with Others so It’s Not Obvious You Live Alone

A large part of feeling safe when living alone is creating the appearance that you’re not alone.

One easy way to do this is by setting automatic timers on your lights. Most burglaries happen during the day when people are at work. By putting your lights on a timer, it will appear that someone is home even during the day. Motion sensored flood lights are also great to install. They’ll deter potential burglars, while making you aware of any activity outside your home.

It’s important to know your neighbors, especially when living alone. Make it an initiative to meet as many neighbors as possible. At the very least, get familiar with those living directly across from you and on either side of your home. Exchange numbers with your neighbors so you can keep each other informed.

In addition to knowing your neighbors, it’s helpful to have friends over frequently. Burglars and other threats are less likely to target a busy home. If you’re ever having maintenance work done, invite some friends over while the workers are present. Not only will this keep you safe, but socializing with others is an important part of mental health when you first move into your own place.

Best Practices for Home Safety

It may sound like an obvious statement, but don’t forget to lock your doors every time you leave the house – whether you’re gone for a few minutes or a few hours. When you’re inside your home, be sure to use the deadbolt to lock your doors. And, unless you’re trying to let in some fresh air, keep your windows closed and locked. You may also consider rekeying your locks, or installing an electronic lock for additional security.

Be sure to close your blinds and curtains, especially at night. This is an easy way for people to peer into your home. Along with closing the blinds, avoid keeping valuable items within sight.

Don’t neglect your peephole. Blindly opening the door to anyone that knocks can be dangerous for anyone, let alone someone who lives by themselves. Take it one step further by investing in a doorbell camera. This way, you can see what’s going on at your front step whether you’re home or not.

Store your neighbors contacts, on-site security, and any other trusted phone numbers in your favorites. You’ll be able to access emergency numbers (in addition to 911) quickly in a threatening situation. You may also consider sharing your location with those you trust. 

Stay aware both inside and outside of your home. Avoid staring down at your phone or wearing headphones with loud music. Communicate with neighbors and stay on the lookout when you see signs of suspicious activity.

If you don’t already have a security system, you should install one as soon as possible. Even a doorbell camera, as mentioned earlier, will allow you to stay up to date when you’re away from home.

For a living security system, consider getting a guard dog. Not only will a furry companion ward off intruders, they’ll keep you company in your new home. Having a pet provides the comfort of a roommate, without the drawbacks of having to compromise with one.

Living alone might sound scary, but all it takes is a few simple steps to keep you safe. Remember to connect with others, lock the doors and windows, and to stay aware of your surroundings. We hope these tips will give you the peace of mind to enjoy your home.

Looking to install a security system, rekey locks, or duplicate a house key? Your local Pop-A-Lock is here to help!

Creative Places to Hide Your Christmas Presents from Family, Friends, and Kids

Several wrapped gift boxes in red, white, and brown wrapping paper and ribbons.

The holidays are quickly approaching, and that means something different for everyone. Whether your favorite part of the holidays is making memories with friends and family, cooking delicious meals, or decorating the home in the spirit of Christmas, we can guess what your least favorite part is: hiding gifts from prying hands and eyes. Especially for those with small children, who can hardly think about anything else for the entire month of December! Thankfully, your local Pop-A-Lock is here with a handy guide for creative places where you can hide your Christmas presents!

For some, hiding Christmas presents is as easy as grabbing a ladder, or climbing up to the top shelf of your pantry. Others, however, might want to try a less obvious place. After all, what’s the point of hiding your gifts if you don’t even forget where they are?

One thing that we can assure you of is this: nowhere is off limits when it comes to hiding Christmas presents from inquisitive kids and prying eyes. Keeping in mind that the older your kids get, the harder the hiding becomes, check out these top six places to stow away those toys!

A living room decorated for Christmas, with red stockings hanging over a white fireplace next to a green armchair.

In the refrigerator. Since it’s a place that most kids know to stay away from, this is an extremely clever way of hiding Christmas presents! We all know kids, especially young ones, will do anything to stay away from the vegetable drawer, making it an ideal place for their December 25th goodies. The downside of this trick, is that it only works for presents that are small or flat, and that can withstand the cold. For particularly tough presents, consider trying the freezer!

In your oven. With all those holiday cookies and pies coming out of the oven, why not stick in some gifts too? Just make sure they don’t get overcooked. This hiding place may serve as a temporary storage place for presents (until the cooking begins), but who would think to look in the oven?

In your closet. This is a great way to hide gifts for older kids who are less likely to snoop around closets than younger children, but keep in mind that the presents shouldn’t be too large or bulky, otherwise you might have some explaining to do! The darker and deeper the closet, the better. To give kids an extra hard time, wrap the presents in some old clothes or blankets, stick them up high, or stack them behind some boxes.

At the bottom of the laundry basket. Getting your kids to do their laundry is difficult as it is, so you can have peace of mind knowing that your kids will never dig down to the bottom of the basket in search of a gift.

In your tool box or a toy chest. If you have an older child, chances are they don’t play with their toys as often anymore. By hiding presents in a toolbox or toy chest, they will forget about them for years! Just be careful when digging around, those screwdrivers can be sharp little guys!

And finally, in your plants! Watering plants is a chore to most kids, so hiding them in an area they avoid is a foolproof way to make sure those gifts stay hidden. Make sure those presents are waterproof (or take waterproofing measures prior to hiding), because opening a brand new gaming system or cell phone on Christmas morning won’t be quite as fun if it’s water damaged.

Santa Claus holding onto the sides of his glasses with both hands, and an open mouth looking surprised.

With these six creative places to hide Christmas presents from your friends and family, you’ll be able to keep those gifts a surprise until the very last minute. Happy holidays!

And if for some reason you lock your presents away so well even you can’t get to them, call your local Pop-A-Lock locksmiths to break them out for you! Trust us, we’ve probably seen weirder.

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.

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.

The Best Places in Your Car to Store Valuables

White SUV on a dirt road in front of mountains.

You’ve heard the rule before: don’t leave anything that you value in your car unattended, especially in plain sight. For anyone with nefarious intentions, getting their hands on precious items is as easy as peeking through the window of a car and seeing a laptop, phone, wallet, jewelry, or other valuables lying around. Luckily, if you find yourself in a situation where you have no choice but to leave your items in the car, there are ways to conceal them, keeping them out of sight for burglars and car thieves.

The inside of a car showing the front seat from the back.

Glove Box

The obvious option for hiding things you want to keep out of sight is your car’s glove box. The issue lies in the fact that glove compartments more often simply conceal your belongings, rather than protecting them. If a thief is already rooting around inside your vehicle, the first area they choose to check will more often than not be the glove box.

Unfortunately, locking the glove compartment is also not always a viable option, as it can draw unwanted attention to that area of your car, and burglars will assume that it is locked specifically to protect something of great value.

That being said, glove compartments are a handy option for stowing away documents, phones, and wallets in specific situations. If you are in an area where your parked car is not left for extended periods of time, and where it will be protected in the case of a break-in, glove boxes will do the trick. This can be somewhere like a parking lot or garage, or in the driveway of your home. Your belongings are usually safe in a glove compartment when there are cameras around to watch for criminal activity.

Center Console

Every car has a center console between the driver and passenger seats that can hold anywhere from a few small items to an entire purse or backpack! Stashing away items that are of importance to you (or items that may draw the attention of criminals) at the bottom of this compartment can protect you, your vehicle, and your belongings in the event of a break-in.

The downside to utilizing this compartment is that, just like the glove box, the center console is one of the very first places that are searched by individuals looking to take your things. Because of this, using the center console should also be limited to small amounts of time in well-lit, well-guarded areas.

Small TV screens on the backs of the front seats in a car.

Special Compartments

It is not uncommon for your car to have one or several secret hiding spots, often in places that cannot be seen from outside of the vehicle. Reading your driver’s manual can clue you in to where these spots are located, and help you stash away those priceless items when you’re leaving your car unattended.

Some examples of compartments that most vehicles are likely to have include things like the pockets on the backs of the passenger and driver’s seats, as well as underneath floor mats and inside the center console in the back row.

An open book with sticky note tabs sticking off the pages.

No Secret Hiding Spots? Make Your Own!

If your vehicle does not come equipped with clever places to stash valuables, the good news is that it’s very simple to find your own! These are a few locations that most cars have that make for great undercover safes for when you have to leave a valuable item behind:

  • Empty (or not so empty) containers: Boxes from things like tissues and sanitary products and containers such as first aid kits are typically avoided by burglars as they are not expecting to find your items there.
  • Hollowed-out books or manuals: Cutting a hole in a thick book or driver’s manual allows you to safely stash your phone or wallet in the glove compartment without worrying about anyone snooping around. Just one thing: make sure to avoid cutting a hole in your actual driver’s manual! You never know when you may need it. Use a fake one instead.

Extra Tip: Be Smart When You’re Hiding Your Things

If you know you will need to leave items in your car, it is recommended that you stash them before parking or exiting the vehicle. You never know when someone might be watching you put your smartphone in a book, or your wallet in your first aid kit.

Pop-A-Lock’s top priority is your safety. So when traveling by car and leaving valuables inside, use these tips, and remember: Pop-A-Lock provides car door unlocking services for when you accidentally hide your car keys along with your wallet or phone!

The 7 Things You Should Never Leave in Your Car

Person driving a car.

Never Leave These 7 Items In Your Vehicle

Innocent mistakes often turn out to cause the most disastrous accidents. Extreme temperatures can do much more damage than spoil wine or groceries. When items are left in the car at low or high temperatures, they are at a significant risk. Studies have shown that the temperature inside of cars can rise 20 degrees in as little as 10 minutes.  Here’s what you should never leave in your car to avoid putting your precious items and loved ones at risk.

A black pug looking out the open window of a red car.

Children and Pets

No matter how long an errand will take, you should never leave young children and pets alone in a car. Even if your car’s windows are cracked, the internal temperature of your car can reach dangerous levels in just 10 minutes. After an hour, temperatures can jump 45 degrees. Every year, an average of 38 unattended children, and hundreds of pets die from heatstroke in locked cars. Avoid a preventable tragedy and never leave your children and pets in a locked vehicle.

Black can of spray paint.

Aerosol Cans

Those labels on aerosol cans are there for good reason. As the temperature rises, the pressure inside an aerosol cans rises too. If stored in temperatures above 120°F, aerosol cans can reach dangerously high internal pressure levels. When left in the heat and/or direct sunlight, aerosol cans explode. This can cause serious injuries or damage to your vehicle.

An open pill bottle.

Medication

Did you know that most medications should be stored at room temperature? That’s because many active ingredients in prescription meds actually spoil or lose their effectiveness when exposed to high heat. A parked car never remains at room temperature, so avoid wasting medication and money by taking your medicine with you.

Apple laptop.

Valuable Goods

While extreme heat does not pose a high risk for most valuables, leaving them in your car presents a different kind of risk – thievery.  Leaving goods such as a purse, wallet, or electronics instantly puts a target on your vehicle for thieves. Even if you store these items out of view, be sure to hide charging cords and other less valuable items out as these signal to burglars there are more valuables out of sight.

Plastic water bottle.

Plastic Water Bottles

Many studies have found harmful chemicals such as BPA and phthalates in plastic water bottles. When left at high temperatures, these chemicals are leached into water from their plastic containers. Also, bottled water has a shelf life. If left for too long in a hot environment, bacteria and microorganisms can grow in the water posing a health risk for those who drink it.

Glass of white wine with the bottle next to it.

Wine

Picking up a bottle of wine after a long day at work is a treat most of us can appreciate. Just be sure to take your bottle of red, white, or rosé with you after you park your car for the evening. Leaving a bottle of wine in a hot car can alter the flavor and even spoil the wine. And if the liquid is left to heat up, it can expand and seep around the sides of the cork, resulting in spilled wine and a contaminated bottle.

Two full paper bags of groceries.

Groceries

Keep grocery shopping at the end of your to-do list to keep perishable items from spoiling in your car. Fresh produce, meat, dairy, and other goods should be stored in the refrigerator no later than two hours after leaving the store. In the summer months, however, food should be put away in the refrigerator no more than one hour after being purchased to avoid spoilage. Removing perishable items from your car promptly will also reduce the chance of leaving an unpleasant smell in your car.

Call Pop-A-Lock

If you find yourself locked out of your car, call Pop-A-Lock and we’ll assist you right away. Our locksmithing experts can unlock any vehicle in a flash. We’re here to help!

How to Organize All of the Keys on Your Keychain

Wall full of keys hanging on hooks.

Back to Basics

Our keychains do so much for us but after a while, they can easily get out of control. From bulky car keys to store memberships, it can be tricky to identify the right key with so much clutter. Let us help you organize and minimize your keychain to help lighten the load weighing down your purse or pants. Follow our step-by-step guide and be on your way to a sleek and organized keychain!

Three keys on a keyring on a white background.

Sort Your Keys

It might seem like an obvious first step, but it’s obvious for a reason. Organizing your keys is the perfect starting point to understanding what is essential and what isn’t. First, take all of your keys off of your existing keychain and immediate set aside items that are not keys. Including, but not limited to, souvenir keychains, duplicate keys, or keys that you no longer use. Next, sort your keys into piles based on their function such as house keys, car keys, or office keys. Doing this will allow you to have a sense of which keys you have more of and which keys can be grouped together. There will be more on that later. Finally, in each function group, organize your keys by their frequency of use. We recommend categorizing them into daily, weekly, infrequent, and rarely or never groups to establish which keys should be carried around with you or locked away in storage.

A hand with a keyring around the index finger.

Get Crafty!

Your lifestyle is unique, so is your optimal key organization method. Whether you’re a fan of color coding or are a home decor fanatic, we’ve got some ideas for you to perfect the method to your madness.

Color Coding

Starting off with a tried and tested technique – color coding. This simple and visually appealing strategy will help you recall which keys serve which purpose just by looking at them. All it takes is visiting your local hardware store or searching Amazon to find key caps or covers in colors you like.

Labels

Our next tip is for label lovers! Labels, like color coding, serve as an excellent way to organize your keys in a more specific way than just using color coding. This step is completely personalizable and guarantees you will never mistake one key for another again.

Home Decor Solutions

Finally, there are several home decor options for organizing your keys such as key hooks and catch-alls. These are perfect additions to any entry way as there are so many styles to choose from and make forgetting your keys a difficult task.

A yellow key, turquoise key, and purple key lying on a white background.

Store Your Keys

To keep your keys sorted and secure while you’re on the go, here are our suggestions for the ideal ways to store your keys. For those keys you use less frequently or only in a specific location, we suggest finding secure storage to keep your keys protected. For example, put them away in the glove compartment of your car, in a safe, or even in a hidden drawer to make sure you control who knows about your keys. As for the essential keys you use everyday, keychains are not your only option. From the nifty, noise-minimizing Keybar to a convenient key wallet, there are infinite options to choose from.