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Keys to The Castle, Do You know everyone who has them?

Keys to The Castle

Who has keys to your castle? Home Security 101!

The key to your home is the first line of defense for home security, if you did not have your lock changed by a reputable professional locksmith, or physically install new locking hardware yourself, you do not know who else may have a key to your new home!

One area of home security that is often overlooked, and one of the most visible, is the common key. Even if you are the first owner of a new house, or the first tenant of your apartment, you cannot be sure that no one else has a key to your door.

Key To The Castle

Key To The Castle

Many times new locks are supplied to a building site that are keyed with special construction keys and pins. The theory is that when the builder turns the property over to the owner of the property, inserting and turning the owner key will trap the construction pins, rendering the construction keys useless. The reality is that not all projects receive locks that are construction keyed, some manufacturers do not offer the option, some builders may buy their hardware from a regular hardware store, etc.

Others who could have a key to your home include, the builder or a construction worker, real estate agent, ex owner or tenant, friend or relative of last owner or tenant, any of a dozen or so service people, or a neighbor who still lives next door.

The first thing you should do when moving into a new home, is have the locks recombinated by a professional locksmith. If you are renting or leasing, and the building owner or manager, cannot or will not assure you that the locks have been changed, do not move in.

Another area of concern is how you handle your keys. You should not have anything on your key ring that identifies you or has your address on it. If you feel this is necessary, see your professional locksmith, they can decode and record your keys, some will keep a record for you. If leaving your car at a parking or service facility, don’t leave any keys on the key ring, other than keys to the car, and don’t leave the trunk key, if you have any valuables in it.

If your keys are marked “Do Not Duplicate” or “Unlawful to Copy” are they safe and secure? People have been known to cover those markings with tape, liquid plastic, rubber key boots, etc. Not all persons who duplicate keys will look under these covers. The minimum wage clerk at the local variety store or hardware store cannot be faulted for not heeding those warnings. Some may even look at them as a challenge.

A good option to explore with your professional locksmith is the use of controlled distribution keys, or high security cylinders, along with controlled distribution keys. These systems feature keys that are not obtainable to key duplicators who are not contracted to purchase them. In some systems the actual keys are patented. One popular High Security, key control manufacturer asks the following questions in their advertising. “Do you give your keys to anyone?”, “Do you mind if they have copies made without your permission?” Unlike standard keys, high security keys are protected by patents and are only provided to authorized, contracted distributors or dealer locksmiths. The duplication of these keys cannot be done without your express permission. Some are so closely controlled that they are only duplicated by the manufacturer, and then sent to the authorized owner. Using this type of security for your keys, gives you the control over who has the keys to your castle.

New Home Security Products and technology

New technology is not ignoring the home security market, Many lock manfacturers  have introduced affordable, stylish, high quality, very user friendly electronic keypad locks check them out at the SecureYourStuff Security Store There are other high tech home security devices available and being introduced almost daily, for more information see your professional locksmith or other security professional.

Securing your Castle – An analogy to Securing Your Home or Home Security

Securing Your Castle

Broken Glass next to Lock

Broken Glass next to Lock

In the world of today, we no longer employ the moat, drawbridge or 30 foot high walls as security devices. However, if we know the correct methods and devices to use, we can attain better security than those devices afforded.

Our first line of defense, is to be aware of our surroundings. Your neighborhood may be in an urban, or suburban area, it may be an apartment building or a gated and guarded community. Each of these environments has it’s own unique challenges, but all share one common factor, there are other people living close by. If you and your neighbors are familiar to each other, this in itself is a defense against intruders. Your degree of interaction can range from complete avoidance to active participation in programs such as National Night Out or Neighborhood Watch.

The more you and your neighbors interact, the safer and more secure your neighborhood will be.

Do It Yourself Home Security Survey

Lets start with the really simple things to check. Did you have your locks rekeyed when you moved in? Do you know how many keys fit your doors, and who has them? If you answered no to either of these questions, you should contact a professional locksmith, for a discussion on key control and/or key control systems.

Next is your front yard, building entryway, or hallway to the apartment. If you have a front yard as you walk up to the front door, look around the area,  is there excessive shrubbery that either hides the entry or provides a hiding area for someone? Does your porch light work? Does it project enough light for you to clearly see someone on your porch at night? Are your able to adequately observe the porch area from inside your home, with the door closed, using a door viewer? If you do not have a clear view of these areas, contact a professional locksmith to discuss the available options. A new modern door viewer may be adequate, or possibly a video door bell system or even CCTV may be needed.

Since we are now at the front door, let’s make sure it can be secured. Do you have a deadbolt lock on  this door and all other exterior doors? If you do have a deadbolt lock, does the bolt project at least 1 inch from the face of the door when thrown? Does it mount to the door securely? Is it constructed of solid or stamped metal? You should also inspect the door jamb, and the strike that receives the bolt. It should be secured to the jamb with at least 3 inch screws that extend into the structural framing of the doorway. If you have glass in your door, or if there is glass adjacent to the door, you should have use a double cylinder deadbolt. This is one that requires a key from either side to operate. Be aware that there is a fire safety issue with double cylinder dead bolt locks, when you are in the home, you should have the door locked and leave a key in the inside cylinder. There are locks available that will trap a key in the inside cylinder, this key can be removed by manipulating the outside cylinder, so you can remove the key when you are away from home. Check with a professional locksmith for availability. You may be restricted by local building codes, or life safety codes from having double cylinder locks. If you cannot have, or do not want double cylinder deadbolts, you should consider having the glass in and around the door, replaced with tempered or unbreakable glass or install a security film.
And finally what condition is the door itself in, is the construction material sound, are the hinges secure, does it drag or bind? If the door is not in good condition, the most expensive and secure lock will not be of much use.

Next you should check all other exterior doors, they need to be as secure as the front door. If you have an attached garage, pay particular attention to the door leading into the house. If a burglar breaks into your garage, they will have a secured and hidden area in which to work, and may even use your tools to attack this door. Keeping your tools under lock and key may not be a bad idea.

We need check the security of windows and patio doors. If you need a window to be open for ventilation, be sure that the opening is small enough to keep the “bad guys” out, and that it is secured from being opened further. Often window locks do not need to be elaborate, a nail or metal pin, if properly used, may be all that is needed. Patio doors are another weak link, don’t depend only on the installed lock. A tightly fitted broomstick, or other device laid in the inside track, is good insurance. But be sure that it cannot be lifted or dislodged by using a wire from the outside.

Your automatic garage door, could also be a weak link. The newer units use very good transmitter security, but some older units did not. Side doors into your garage also need to be locked.

All of these steps should be viewed as minimum starting points.

Should you use a Locking Mailbox ?

Locking Mailbox

Locking Mailbox

A Locking Mailbox, might save you from identity theft.

A major, almost always, overlooked security risk is your mailbox.

We as a society have universally trusted that metal box at the end of the driveway or attached to the front of our house to securely guard our correspondence for as long as we have had a postal service.

Mail theft has been a crime of opportunity for just as long. Consider what is delivered to your mailbox on a daily basis. Ads from banks or retailers to get their credit or charges cards, some with your identity information already inserted. Medical information, insurance policies, letters from your lawyer. Social security checks.

When you think of the items we receive in the mail that could help someone steal our identity, some that are unsolicited. It is almost insane that we do not have locking mailboxes. Yet most people do not.

Thieves will routinely scout mailboxes for anything that looks like a check, or credit card offers.

One solution is a locking mailbox they are available from some hardware stores, some locksmith shops or online. Also check the big box home centers, Check the SecureYourStuff Store on this site.

Read any reviews you can find. All locking mailboxes are not created equal, many can be defeated with common hand tools, others are very well made and will withstand common attacks.You should be sure that the slot is big enough to accept the mail you usually receive. If you routinely get a lot of mail, a larger box would be called for.

Most are advertised to meet US Postal Inspector guidelines, it might be a could idea to check and be sure.

You could receive all of your mail at a Post Office mail box. Or check if your city has a business that rents mailboxes., Of course you will have the added responsibility of picking up your mail.

Either solution will offer much more security than you have now.

Mail boxes must comply with USPS mail box specs, most that are sold have a sticker attached that states that they meet these specs. If you are cunstructing your own, supply your Postal Inspector with the plans for approval.

USPS Mailbox Specs

How To Choose Your Professional Locksmith or Security Technician

Professional Locksmith

Professional Locksmith

How To Choose Your Professional Locksmith or Security Technician

There are thousands of businesses in the USA who present themselves as experts in various security protocols, this article will guide you as a consumer in how to determine who really is qualified.

When choosing a professional locksmith, or other security technician, you should use due diligence to ascertain that they are reputable and qualified. This person or company is going to have complete access to your property and possessions.

If they are making new keys, installing new locks, a CCTV system, an access control system, an alarm system, a safe or other security device, you need to be assured that they will turn over all keys or credentials when the job is finished. If they are keeping records of any part of your system, they should make you aware of what they are keeping and why, and assure you that the information is secure.

You should determine if there are any legal or regulatory requirements in your State or Province, and if so, are they in compliance. Licensing for locksmiths is not required in most states. You may wish to ask neighbors or other businesses for recommendations, you may want to check with the Better Business Bureau the local Chamber of Commerce, or  your local Police Department for any complaints.

You should be sure that they are insured and/or bonded and that they have all required business licenses or permits.

See if they belong to local or national trade associations, this may not always be an indicator of competence, however if they are members of these associations, they are more readily exposed to new products and new developments in the industry. They may also be certified at some level by these associations, again certification may not guarantee their level of expertise, but does show that they at least went through certain classes or training in order to attain that certification. See below for links to national associations.

A well stocked retail store is a clue that should not be overlooked, however many very successful, competent, security professionals have their shops in industrial parks, or just run mobile units. In some smaller communities it is not economically feasible to have a retail store.

Links to national security professional associations.

Associated Locksmiths Of America (ALOA)

Safe & Vault Technicians Association (SAVTA)

The National Burglar & Fire Alarm Association (NBFAA)

ASIS International (ASIS)

What is your Security Awareness IQ?

Security Awareness IQ

What is your Security Awareness  IQ?

Your awareness of the need for security could be more important than all of the locks and security systems you employ!

Security Awareness

Security Awareness

Your awareness of the need for security, is the best place to begin a discussion on physical property security.

What is security awareness? Our definition is multi-faceted, and includes the ability to identify known and unknown threats, being aware of the technologies, products and services that can defuse those threats, knowing how to operate the products and systems you have, and most importantly the awareness that these systems must be used, and must be used all of the time.

This security awareness may be more important to the security of your home and business than any of the security hardware or systems you install. Why is this? Any lock or security system, will not do you any good unless, You use it!

An old adage states that “locks only keep honest people honest”, and is possibly very true. If the “bad guys” really want to get in, all we can really hope for is to slow them down. If you, with our help, choose and have installed the correct hardware and/or systems, we CAN slow them down – or at least discourage them from threatening your loved ones and your property.

We’ve all heard the stories, usually from older relatives, about never having to lock our doors or cars, because the town was so safe, and they knew everyone. Well it is sad to say, but those days are gone.

When people choose not to secure their property, they are not  doing only themselves a disservice, they are also hurting their community. If any one of us makes it easier for the “bad guys” to prosper, they will multiply, our communities become less safe, our property values decline, and our quality of life suffers.

Yes that’s right, if a lock is not locked, it’s only a decoration. You need to be aware of using your locks every time you leave as the “bad guys” don’t advertise what day they are coming!

In medieval times security was easy; the property owner built a castle, dug a moat, and erected a drawbridge. Today these measures are not practical, or even desired. In today’s society, if you lived in a castle, and made all of your decisions based on safety and security, you would at the very least be labeled as paranoid.

It is important that you balance the level of security you install, and how it operates, with your unique situation. You and any other persons need to fully understand how your systems operate – does it require you to lock it manually or will it fortify your property automatically. If you have too much security, you will not use it; too little security, and it will not do the job.

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