Does Your Business Need a Master Key System?

Keys might seem small and light if you just have a few, but once they start to add up, you’re looking at a heavy, jangling keyring. Or are you? A master key lock system is one possible solution to dealing with too many keys. Within a master key system, a single master key can open multiple locks. Master key systems are especially useful when you need access to many different locked areas — such as within schools, hospitals, and storage facilities, to name a few.

Here’s how a master key system works. There are two types of keys: a pass key (also known as a change key), which only opens one specific lock, and a master key, which opens all the locks in a system. Let’s say you’re an apartment manager in Clearwater. Your tenants have pass keys that only open their specific apartment unit. However, when they request maintenance, you’ll be able to enter any unit — even if the complex has hundreds — with a single master key. A master key system designed by an experienced locksmith combines good security with good access for just the people who need it.

If you’re thinking about having a master key system installed in your Clearwater business, you’ll want to consider the following pros and cons:

Pros:

  • You can rekey individual locks without changing the master key. If a pass key is lost or stolen, it’s easy and inexpensive to have a locksmith rekey the single lock.
  • There are fewer keys to keep track of (and fewer keys to lose).
  • Significant cost savings on keys.
  • You can give different people different levels of access. Within a master key system, you can have sub-master keys that open all locks in a set without providing the full access of a master key.
  • Multiple locks or even buildings can be keyed to the same master key.
  • In an emergency,  anyone (e.g. firefighters, paramedics, etc.)  can quickly be given access to all areas.

Cons:

  • Keeping track of who has a master key is essential.
  • Losing a master key has greater consequences.
  • Poorly designed master key systems may result in pass keys that open the wrong locks or other security gaps.

Want to learn more about how a master key system could work for your organization? Call Pop-A-Lock Clearwater today at 727-562-5408 for more information and a free quote. As experienced commercial locksmiths in Clearwater, we have years of experience engineering and installing secure, durable master key systems.

How to Secure Your Home: 4 Areas to Burglar-Proof

 

According to the FBI, a burglary occurs somewhere in the US every 15 seconds. The good news is that most burglars are opportunists, and taking a few simple measures to boost your home’s security can keep you from becoming their next victim. You can start by plugging security leaks in these four main areas:

Doors

Your home is only as secure as your weakest door, so if you have more than one — like a back door, a patio, or a garage door — fortify all of them. Use these tips to get all of your doors up to speed.

  • Spring locks. Burglars love doors with only spring locks because they’re usually easy to open. Deadbolts are much more secure and can be added to your door in addition to your spring lock. There are also high security lock and bump proof lock options to choose from. A professional locksmith can help you evaluate your security needs and make a good choice.
  • Hinges. Stand on the outside of your closed door. Can you see the hinges? If you can, a thief only has to remove the hinge pins to get your door open. You’ll need to reinstall your door with the hinges on the inside.
  • Strike plates. Many thieves won’t bother with jimmying, picking, or drilling. They’ll just kick your door down. Installing a reinforced strike plate (the part that the tongue of the lock fits into) will help your door survive being kicked.
  • Gaps between door and door frame. The more room there is, the easier it is to jimmy a lock or saw through the tongue.
  • Sliding doors. Since most sliding doors rely on latches rather than locks, they are a weak spot in your security. Have a locksmith install additional security mechanisms or locks on those doors.
  • Remote controlled garage doors. Always change the factory preset code when you have a new system installed. Otherwise, someone with a factory remote might be able to open your door.

Windows
Once you’ve secured your doors, it’s time to ramp up your window security.

  • Ground floor windows. Good window locks make large, ground floor windows much more secure. Another option is installing metal dowels in your window frame, which will prevent anyone from opening the window all the way.
  • Upper story windows. Don’t assume that these windows are safe just because they’re higher up. Make sure there are no nearby trees or other ways to access upper story windows. And don’t forget to secure your skylights!

Yard
How do things look outside your house? Your yard can determine whether a burglar targets your house or keeps right on walking.

  • Lighting. Install motion sensitive lighting along paths and be sure that each doorway is well lit. The more exposed a burglar feels, the less likely he is to target your house.
  • Outdoor furniture, ladders, and tools. Bolt down furniture and put away ladders and tools so that thieves can’t use them to break into your house.
  • Bushes, hedges, and trees. Keep them trimmed for better visibility, and make sure nearby trees can’t be climbed to access a balcony or second story. Prickly bushes help deter thieves, too.

Keys
Surprise – many burglars actually enter with keys instead of breaking in. Protecting your house keys is a must. Some tips:

  • Don’t hide keys under door mats, in mailboxes, or other locations around your house. Thieves know exactly where to look. Your spare key is safer with a trusted neighbor.
  • Rekey your locks if you’ve just moved in or have lost a key. (Learn more about rekeying.)
  • Don’t keep any form of ID on your key ring.
  • Keep track of how many copies of your house key there are and who has them.

Did you know that you can schedule a home security audit with an experienced local locksmith? If you want more information on how to secure your home, call Pop-A-Lock today at 727-562-5408 —  your trusted locally owned and operated Clearwater locksmith.

Locksmith Scams in Clearwater – And How to Protect Yourself

We hate to say it, but there are a lot of bad locksmiths out there, even just in Clearwater, and picking the wrong one can make your life pretty difficult. Bad locksmiths catch you when you’re worried, stressed, and tired – like if you’re locked out of your car at the airport after a long trip.  All too often, they get away with shoddy services and inflated prices.

But as always, knowledge is power. Read up on common locksmith scams so you can steer clear of the bad apples. (Or if you need a reliable locksmith in Clearwater, just call us. It’s known as doing things the easy way.)  Here are 5 of the most common locksmith scams and how to avoid them.

    1. Unbelievably low prices. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. The $10 or $19 offers on Google ads might be tempting, but think about it: that price won’t even cover the locksmith’s time or expenses. So where’s the catch? Sometimes it’s the service call, not the service, that costs $10. Some locksmiths will reveal that the price is actually a minimum when you call. And others will show up and find all sorts of reasons to charge you more than the original quote.
    1. Up-selling you on additional services. It’s true that a small percentage of locks can’t be picked, but a locksmith who shows up, fiddles with your lock for two minutes, and claims that he’ll have to drill and replace it (for a lot more money) is either incompetent or trying to pull one on you. Dismiss him before he ruins your lock and get a second opinion.
    1. Strong-arm tactics. A locksmith shows up in a tow truck, corners your car, unlocks it, and threatens to tow your car unless you pay the amount he asks for. Especially if it’s late at night and you’re alone, strong-arm tactics and outright threats can be scary. The best way to avoid them is to only call established local locksmiths with solid reputations.
    1. Companies that use similar names as legitimate locksmiths. Pop-A-Lock is an established name in the locksmith industry, so it’s not surprising our competitors have names like Papa Lock and Pop All Locks. They might not necessarily be scammers, but they are counting on you to mistake them for genuine Pop-A-Lock franchises. Check the name and website carefully before you call.
    1. Out of town call centers and unlicensed locksmiths. Using 411 directories and internet listings, locksmith scammers have become big news in the past few years. Some of the biggest rings aren’t even located in the country. They set up a dummy local number, route it to dispatchers far away, and send unlicensed people in unmarked cars who will try any or all of the above scams. Yet another reason to be wary of extremely low prices, poor online reputations, unmarked cars, and technicians without certifications or ID.

Like any other service professional you hire, it’s worth it to take the extra time to check out licenses and online reputations before you call a locksmith. Have you experienced any other locksmith scams in Clearwater? Leave us a comment so we can get the word out about protecting yourself from bad locksmiths.

Coming up next: good signs that you’re dealing with a legitimate locksmith.

Pop-A-Lock at Dunedin’s Touch a Truck Event

Pop-A-Lock of Clearwater was once again proud to be a part of this year’s annual Dunedin “Touch A Truck” event. Heralded as one of the biggest displays in the south, this event is put on every year for the Parks department to showcase not only local businesses but law enforcement and fire officials as well.

As always, the kids had a lot of fun climbing around the service vehicles, received a POP-A-LOCK balloon, and learned more about their community. Pop-A-Lock was also able to provide children with a fun time in the Pop-A-Lock bounce house, which is available at no charge to civic, community, school, and church groups.

Thanks for coming out and making the Touch a Truck event such a success! We love having opportunities to connect with our local community.

Photo credit: City of Dunedin

Is it time to rekey or change your locks?

Do you know where every copy of your house key is right now? It’s so easy to go down to the hardware store and make a copy that your house keys can easily end up in undesirable hands. In addition to your trusted friends and family, these people could also have your house key:

  • Ex-boyfriends, girlfriends, spouses, or roommates
  • Their friends
  • Current and former cleaners, gardeners, and babysitters
  • Neighbors who moved away
  • The previous tenants or owners and their friends
  • Anyone the above people gave keys to
  • Anyone who found a key you or any of the above people lost
  • Anyone who found your hidden key under the door mat or rock

Whew! That’s a lot of people. Not knowing who has your house key is bad for your peace of mind as well as for your home’s security. If it’s been a while since you had your locks changed or rekeyed, now might be a good time to have it done – especially if you’ve noticed anything suspicious or no longer trust the people you gave keys to. After all, crime rates aren’t going down in Clearwater or anywhere else.

The good news is that getting locks rekeyed is a quick and affordable service that experienced locksmiths can perform in ten minutes or less. In a lock rekey, we change the pins inside your existing lock so your old key will no longer be able to open it. As long as your lock is in good working order, it can be rekeyed as many times as you need. Rekeying a lock costs a lot less than buying and installing a new lock. Locksmiths can also rekey multiple doors (e.g. front and back doors) so that they take the same key in most cases.

Changing locks is another option. With a lock change, locksmiths remove your old lock and install a brand new one. It’s a good idea if you want to change brands or upgrade to a higher security lock, or if your current lock is too worn to be rekeyed.

Do you have any questions about rekeying or changing locks? Leave us a comment, and we’ll be happy to answer them! Pop-A-Lock Clearwater provides affordable, knowledgeable residential locksmith services in Clearwater, FL.