Should You Rekey Your Locks?

When it comes to securing a home or business, rekeying the locks is something that most people never consider. So long as the locks work and they have a key, most consumers assume their property is safe against unauthorized entry.

Surprisingly, this isn’t always the case.

There may be several keys to your home or business floating around out there.

Scary, right?

Don’t be fooled into thinking that your locks are safe from unauthorized key holders just because you haven’t given anyone access to your keys. There are many ways your keys could have fallen into the wrong hands, through no fault of your own.

Previous owners of a property are the most likely sources of unauthorized keys being passed around. They may have given copies to their friends, their room mates, contract workers or family members. In turn, those people may have given copies to their friends, their room mates – so on and so forth.

Business owners are not immune to this problem. Previous property owners could still have keys to your premises, as well as former employees, service people you have hired in the past or any number of people that were associated with the property or someone at the property before you took over.

On the other hand, just because someone happens to have an extra key to your property doesn’t mean they’re going to use it for nefarious reasons or that they will use it at all. However, the point is that they could and you have no guarantee that they won’t so it’s best to err on the side of caution.

To ensure that only the people who should have a key to your property are the people that you give keys to your property is by changing the locks or having the locks rekeyed, which is the cheaper alternative.

Rekeying locks in Preston is usually done by a professional locksmith, but can be done on your own, if you know how. It’s a fairly easy process that involves changing the inner-workings of the lock mechanism to fit a new key, rendering the old key useless.

Rekeying locks in Preston and surrounding areas is just one of the services we provide at Toplock. If you think your keys may have fallen into the wrong hands, call our team of security professionals today  at  1300 679 979. We would be happy to discuss your options with you and help you decide whether rekeying or replacing your locks is right for you.

What To Look For When Hiring A Locksmith in Melbourne

When people find themselves in need of a locksmith, the situation is usually urgent, which doesn’t allow for a lot of time to shop around. Most clients looking for a locksmith in Melbourne do so while stranded outside of their homes, businesses or cars and are all too happy to accept the first bid from the first person who promises to come to their aide. However, this can be a costly mistake.

Not all locksmiths are created equal. Some lack not only the experience to deal with certain sensitive situations, but also the credentials and licensing needed to conduct their business as well. When you do not take the time to thoroughly vet a locksmith, you could run into all kinds of problems and find yourself without recourse to fall back on.

Don’t worry. TopLock Locksmiths can help you with that, too. We’re going to show you a few things you should look for in a locksmith before deciding to employ their services.

Licensing/Bonding/Insurance

The first thing you shMaster Locksmith Association approvedould know about a locksmith company before you hire them is whether they are licensed, bonded and insured to be operating their business. Don’t be afraid to ask for their licensing number and insurance information and don’t be afraid to verify it. A valid license means they have followed the correct protocols for operating a business and were found reputable. A valid insurance policy means you and your property will be protected against damages incurred by the company while performing their service.

References

It’s always a good idea to deal with a locksmith company that someone you know has dealt with before. Ask around and see if anyone can refer you to a reputable company. Only trust the opinions and recommendations of a neutral third party. Otherwise, it could be a paid reference employed by the company to drum up business. On the other hand, bad feedback is just as helpful as good feedback. If many different people have had bad experiences with the same company, consider it a red warning flag and move on to the next one on the list.

No hidden feesExpanded Services and Hidden Fees

Of course, the more involved a locksmith job is, the more its going to cost. However, there are many other variables that you should be aware of before deciding to hire a locksmith. Two of the most common fee hikes stem from a locksmith traveling outside of their normal service area and answering service calls after hours or on holidays. If you’re traveling and need a locksmith in Melbourne or any other city, choose one that’s located within the city where the services are needed. The farther they travel, the more the call is going to cost. Don’t forget to ask when their ‘normal hours’ end and their ’emergency service hours’ begin to avoid any surprises on your bill.

The best advice about choosing a locksmith would be to choose one before you need them. That way you give yourself time to compare prices and services of various companies and to gather as much information about them as you can. Keeping this information handy in case of a locksmith emergency alleviates the stress (and possibly the extra cost) of having to choose one on the spot.

A roof burglary St Kilda – better to use Ebay

We did complete change of locks, windows, deadlocks…. even a skylight lock on a house in St Kilda last April as the owner had had their keys stolen.  Not only had they had their keys stolen… they had had almost all their valuable possessions stolen as well. By someone they had invited into their home.  It happened like this.

They had recently bought a new entertainment system.  One with the works.  Large screen LED screen TV, high quality stereo and speakers, gaming centre – it sounded pretty awesome… and they said it also SOUNDED AWESOME!

Their old system was still serviceable, so they advertised it for sale in the local paper.  They made the mistake of saying it was a good system they were only selling as they’d upgraded.  Big mistake.  Telling strangers you have two quality entertainment systems in your house and they are welcome to come and check them out.  And your house too – to see how easy it is to break into.

A number of people came to look at the system, some seemed genuine, one seemed not so interested. He was more interested in looking at the roof and asking about the owners work.  Day job?  Out much?  The house owners were immediately suspicious, and over the next few days ensured the house was properly locked, deadlocked doors, locked windows, Tv let on blaring to make it appear someone was at home etc,.

Roof BurglaryThey still got robbed and lost both systems plus a lot more stuff.

The crook came back when they weren’t at home and entered the property through the roof.  It was just a matter of pulling off a few tiles, then slipping through the manhole.  Sure, all the windows and doors were deadlocked, but there was a spare set of keys hanging on a latch inside. 

They emptied the house.

Someone must have seen them but no one questioned what appeared to be a genuine removalist about his business.  In uniform, going in and out of the front door, all items nicely boxed up.

So what to learn from this?

  1. There is little point deadlocking your house if you leave a spare set of keys inside.  Keys win over deadlocks every time.
  2. Deadlocks and window locks won’t stop a thief who enters through a ceiling.  A motion activated alarm and video camera system is the best way to foil these types of thieves.  No”removalist” is going to be able to empty your house with an alarm screaming at them drawing attention.
  3. Sell your unwanted items on Ebay rather than have people come to your house. If they MUST come to your house to see the items, place them in a garage.  If you don’t have a garage, put them in the hallway near the front door.  If it’s a lounge suite that they must come into the loungeroom to see?  Well… make sure you comment about someone always being home during the day sitting on the couch and they can guarantee its super comfortable!

Our new St Kilda client took the opportunity to rekey their house leaving them with just two keys.  One that fit all the doors, and another that fit all the windows, rather than the 10 or so they had before, that were always hanging in the kitchen.

The worst part for the ST Kilda people was they knew who had probably done it, they even gave his name (not sure if it was fake) and his mobile phone number to the police, but in the end nothing could be proved and the guy got away with it.  Very frustrating. 

St Kilda Locksmith

First time North Fitzroy renters forgot about security

For a lot of young people when they first move out of home the wake-up calls come fast and often. The dishes don’t do themselves. Neither do the clothes. The bathroom is not self cleaning, the garbage does not take itself out and rent is just one of many bills that has to be covered. The young person that has lived in a home in a fairly nice area  their parents kept well secured may be lulled into thinking burglaries only happen to other people even  when they move out into premises in a less than desirable area with a lower level of security than their parents had in place.

Such was the case at a house in North Fitzroy we attended recently where burglars had made off with a brand-new Xbox.(I mentioned this the one of the young guys here and with a straight face he said they should use the opportunity to get a Sony PlayStation instead because they are much better lol).

Jokes aside…. Was there anything this group of first-time renters could have done to improve their security? Well as it turns out… Yes!

  1. Get Some curtains Fellahs!.  If the premises were previously rented without curtains often the exiting tenants will take to curtains when they go.  That makes sense because they paid for them.  Now if it was three young girls renting a new house I would expect them to solve the curtain problem quickly but for some reason when guys move into a house if it’s got no curtains they seem to think this is an insurmountable problem.  I don’t know if they consider curtain money is money that could be better spent on beer..?  But whatever the reason the guys houses just don’t seem to manage curtain purchasing.

    The result? People can easily see into the house and see whether anyone is at home and what’s there for the taking.

  1. Make sure everyone has all keys
    As it turned out of three tenants only two of them had keys to the back door deadlock and the back door had a glass pane beside it. The guys as a result, just didn’t use the back deadlock, only the door lock.  If the back door had been deadlocked when the burglar broke the glass pane he would not have been able to reach in and unlock the back door.
  2. Add motion detecting lights at the rear of the house.
    Installing a motion detector connected to the back light is a great way to deter thieves.  It’s even better than leaving a light on out the back.  A dark backyard or porch is an ideal entry point for a burglar and when casing a property this is what they will look for.  A well lit back porch will deter some but if the thief approaches the back door and a light turns on?  They know the turning on about light may draw attention to someone who is looking at a window, it may draw attention from a dog etc.  A motion activated light at the front and back of the house is almost standard practice to most homeowners as a security precaution as one which as a renter you should discuss with your landlord.

The main thing is to use your common sense.  Understand that burglars can hit any property that they prefer easy targets. If you make your property are more difficult target than another property down the road chances are a burglar casing the area will target their property as opposed to yours.  Secure your property as well as you can.  Don’t advertise you have expensive electrical items just lying about.

The North Fitzroy boys learnt a pretty sobering lesson and the gaming is can be on hold for quite some time.

Fitzroy North Locksmith

A stashed key in Hawthorn – a runner runs the gauntlent

We attended premises in Hawthorn this week to rekey all locks following a burglary. This was not your normal forced entry burglary. No doors had been kicked in, no windows broken… The owner wasn’t even entirely sure at first that she had been burgled let alone when. Soon she realised that she had been burgled not once but multiple times. One week a mobile phone that she thought she had simply misplaced totally disappeared regardless that she had pulled the house apart. Expensive perfume went missing from the bathroom – something she at first blamed on a flatmate but after the flatmate denied it and then cash from her wallet went missing when the  flatmate was out of town? She knew she had a problem.

Whilst replacing the barrels in all of the deadlocks we talked with her about her general home security, who might still have a key to the property such as a previous owner or tenant.  At first we all draw blank because the landlord in question was a client of ours and we had replaced the barrels prior to this tenant moving in so no previous tenant could possibly have a key. The problem must lie elsewhere.

Then the penny dropped.  Our new client was a runner.  She had run in several marathons and went for a run for five times a week, almost always at the same time and she ran for at least an hour each time. She didn’t like to take keys with her so she had one stashed in a pot plant out the back.  The problem was of course that there was a large block of flats that could see into her backyard though she thought she was being discreet in stashing and relocating key it was pretty clear to anyone who saw her coming though that’s exactly what she was doing. It was quiet disconcerting to her to realise that her burglar was very likely a neighbour.

This is not the first time we’ve attended a property burgled because of a stashed key, it’s not the 2nd 3rd, 50th or last time either.  Stashed keys are something burglars look for all the time whether they are casing your property or just sneaking round the back on the off chance there is one in a pot plant on your back porch.  Our advice on stashed keys is just don’t do it.  Listen to us.  Expert locksmith talking. Just don’t do it.

We know a lot of running gear has no pockets for a key and even if it did who wants to run with a key bouncing around in your pocket? The solution is an armband phone and key carrier designed just for this purpose.  Not only will they ensure that no one is robbing you using a static key while you are out on a run these devices can make you run so much more fun.

Your phone (assuming it’s a smart phone) can be used as an MP3 player so as you run you can listen to your favourite tunes or even the radio. For those of you who prefer to be focused on what’s around instead of listing to music whilst running your smart phone can have an app installed on it the contract your run and then you can upload that data to an application which calculates how far you ran how long it took and you can shut your progress compared with your running on other days. It’s a great way that staying motivated with your running.

So whether you’re a runner or just forgetful and you like to static key out the back think twice before doing it but if you really must do it the pot plant on the back porch is the worst possible place at any place where your neighbours can see you’ll retrieving it is about place as well.

Hawthorn Locksmith

A few screws loose in Hawthorn

We attended a house in Hawthorn this week – it wasn’t an emergency callout but the owner advised she was having a lot of trouble locking her front door so we came out to have a look at it. In most cases a deadlock will be replaced well before it wears out as a new tenant or property owner changes the deadlock barrels to ensure people with keys to the existing deadlock can no longer access the property. That’s not to say that things can’t go wrong with the mechanics of a deadlock or that they last forever.

We inspected the deadlock and quickly determined what the problem was.  The deadlock itself was fine and it looked in an almost new state.  The reason it wasn’t working was because the door itself was slightly loose on the hinges. The looseness of the door was placing extra pressure on the lock making it very difficult to turn the key. Whilst the locksmith wasn’t required to fix this – it could just as easily have been fixed by a home handyman it was still a good idea to call us.

At any moment a key being forced in the deadlock barrel could have snapped off meaning we would have been needed in an emergency status which costs a bit more and the door hinges would still have to work been repaired.

After chatting with the homeowner we also learned that she had only recently moved in and did not change the locks since taking possession of the property.  We advise her to at the very least change the front and back door deadlock barrels to ensure the property was property secured.  Of course we also fixed the door hinge so that her front door opened and closed more easily and also allowing the key to turn easily in the deadlock.

There are many reasons why a door could move putting pressure on a deadlock:-

  1. Buildings beside busy roads are susceptible to damage from vibration.
  2. Buildings on clay soil tend to move around putting door frames out of alignment.
  3. A nearby building site can often cause problems.
  4. Time. Over time all doors, door frames, and hinges will wear and no longer fit as they should.

A new Hawthorn client’s house was right beside a new block of apartments that had gone up recently and it’s very likely that the heavy machinery and construction work played a role in rattling a few screws loose.

So if you are having trouble with a key sticking in a deadlock should first check that the door itself is closing properly and also check that the faceplate of the deadlock is screwed in as a loose screw in the deadlock can cause a similar problem. Do this and you might well save yourself an emergency visit from a locksmith.

Of course if you get into trouble we want us to sort out for you give us a call and we’ll check it out.

Hawthorn Locksmith

Replacing St Kilda deadlocks missing quick release

We attended a property in St Kilda this week to do a general safety and security inspection with some interesting results.  The home had a new owner who wanted a general inspection to ensure in case of a burglary their insurance would be valid. As it turns out their insurance certainly would have covered them a burglary but we ended up replacing the deadlocks and the window locks in any case. Two reasons.

When you move into a new home it’s a good idea to change the barrels in the deadlock. This means that anyone who previously resided in the property that still has a key is no longer be able to access your home. In this case whilst changing the barrels of the deadlocks would have secured the property, they were of a style not safe to use because they lack a quick release system.

The key locked deadlock is designed to prevent easy access through the front of the door but additionally in the case where a burglar has broken a window to gain access to the house and now wants door access to remove large items… a key lockable deadlock prevents them simply unlocking the door from the inside.

Now it’s one thing to key lock your deadlocks when you’re out and want to ensure the security of your home and contents but it’s quite another to key lock your deadlocks when you’re in the house at night as this could prevent a speedy exit from your house should there be a fire.  There is no point in leaving your keys in the deadlock at night – if you do that you might as well not have the deadlock at all. 

It’s far safer to ensure that your deadlock has the option to both key lock and to leave it “locked” from the outside but capable of being quick release opened from the inside.  The deadlocks we saw had no such system so for safety reasons we replaced them.

The window locks had related but slightly different problem.  The locks themselves were very old and stiff. Whilst they could be opened without a keylock it took quite some effort. In the case of a fire when everyone is panicking and you may not have much time to get out you don’t want to be in the situation where you have to fumble with a sticking window lock in order to exit the premises.  Children are irreplaceable, window locks and very affordable so we replaced all of the window locks.

We recommend all our clients… And our non-clients that matter… Inspect all of the potential exit points of their house and ensure that security is such that a burglar will struggle to enter the property…but that locks are not functioning in such a way that will prevent a quick escape from a burning house. 

Don’t put it off, do it today. And while you’re at it?  Check your smoke alarms too.  I highly recommend smoke alarms that are wired into the mains power as opposed to the battery-operated ones.  The mains power ones are linked so one goes off they all go off ensuring the whole house is awakened from the noise no matter where the fire is.  

Deadlock re keying in Balwyn

We had a callout in Balwyn this week from a tenant who wanted their locks replaced.  They had not had any problems with a former flatmate or anything like that… they just wanted to ensure their home was secure as the locks had not been replaced in a long time.

We have several real estate clients in the Melbourne area who as a matter of course rekey all external locks upon a change of tenants in one of their managed rental premises.  This makes good sense. You don’t want to have an unknown number of previous tenants still having access to a rental property.

Whilst this might make good sense the landlord is under no requirement to do this.  The landlord has a requirement to provide keys to all external locks and the tenant chooses to change locks, they have a requirement to provide the landlord with copies of the keys to these locks but as a tenant you might find yourself in a position where the new premises you are renting has locks that have not been rekeyed from many years.  Anyone who is rented the premises in the last decade may still have working keys to your home.

We suggest when leasing a property that you enquire regarding who potentially has keys for the premises. Have the locks been replaced recently and if not who still might have access to the premises.  In some cases a request to your landlord to rekey locks will be received favourably but more often than not a landlord who has chosen not to rekey locks prior to you signing your lease is not that suddenly decide after the fact to do so.  If that turns out to be the case we suggest you bite the bullet and get your external locks rekeyed. The cost is not huge and the peace of mind that you will achieve knowing previous tenants no longer have access to your home will be priceless.

You can go the extra mile and also get window locks and interior door locks rekeyed but this is probably not necessary as someone first has to forcibly enter the house to use such locks and if they are prepared to use such force to enter your house they are certainly prepared to use such force against your other locks once inside.

For the Balwyn job, we rekeyed the front and back door deadlocks with the same barrel so only one key was needed, and cut sufficient copies for all the flatmates as well as 2 keys to provide to the landlord.  It was a quick easy job, 45 minutes from go to whoa. 

Balwyn Locksmiths

Antique furniture lock replacement in St Kilda

Not all of our callouts are emergency lockouts and we got a really interesting job this week in St Kilda.  Our new client was placing an antique sideboard up for sale and had received a valuation less than what she had hoped for because the sideboard was missing keys.  All attempts had been made to locate the original keys to no avail.  Our new client wanted to get keys cut for the existing locks as opposed to replacing the locks as replacing the locks would mean the sideboard was no longer a genuine antique, rather it would be a refurbished and modified antique.

We advised the client over the phone that we couldn’t really quote accurately for this job as it was very much dependent on just how old and rare the locks were. If they were a very rare type of lock with intricate and complex mechanisms it would take us quite some time to create a replacement key.  In a best case scenario the lock used would have once been a very common style and we would have a suitable skeleton  key in stock that we could use to create a new key.  If not? It might end up be a multiple day job.

Luckily in this case it turned out to be the simpler variety and we were able to  determine what sort of key would be required and how it needed to be cut to fit the sideboard locks in a morning.  More than a walk in the park  but no Boston marathon either. We got a phone call a few weeks later from the lady who was very excited to advise she had sold the sideboard for a lot more than the asking price.  She described how she had aged the keys we provided using a chemical process to make them appear even more authentic.

Some things to think about if you have an antique item of furniture with working locks.

  1. If you have only one working key get a copy made TODAY.  It’s far cheaper to have a backup copy of your key on hand that it is to try and replace a lost one.
  2. If you do find yourself in the position of having to replace lost keys to antique furniture remember that in order to preserve their value you are going to need to find a locksmith who can pick the lock and make a key rather than simply replace the lock itself as this will reduce the value of your item.
  3. If you have a key that fits the lock but doesn’t open it don’t assume that the key is wrong… It may well be the lock itself need some tender loving care.  Whilst many old locks were built to last nothing is built to last for ever.  Locking mechanisms degrade over time, springs in locks my file etc. Don’t throw the key away in haste thinking it’s the problem.
  4. Speak to a locksmith but also speak to a specialist antique furniture restorer’s who likely have a pile of keys sitting around – you may get lucky and have one of them have a suitable key on hand that fits your lock.

St Kilda Locksmith

A quality GPS is an important Locksmiths Tool

As with every business, having the best tools of the trade make life much easier for my guys.  As locks get more and more complicated, our teams have to constantly update our tools.  20 years ago hardly any cars had transponders and engine immobilizers… now it’s almost standard.  Many houses didn’t even have deadlocks, now we arrive at houses with triple point locks which are a much tougher nut to crack.

But without question our most important tool is our GPS.  We are locals, and we know our way around Melbourne but it’s our GPS that ensure in times of heavy traffic, our guys can arrive at your Melbourne lockout emergency in the fastest possible time.

When it comes to GPS systems, all systems are not equal. Here’s why.

  1. Some cheaper systems simply estimate travel times based on allowed maximum speeds and average recorded travel times between place A and B.  These systems are pretty much useless in providing an estimate of how long it will take to get anywhere in Melbourne, as traffic is always a factor.
  2. Some systems make use of user reported data with regard to traffic problems.
  3. The system we use tracks the real time speeds of cars in and around Melbourne travelling down thousands of roads, and using this data is able to give very accurate estimates of travel times as well as telling us which routes are moving faster at any one time.  Using a quality GPS with such a tracking system is often the difference between us reaching an emergency lockout in 20 minutes rather than 35…which might be the difference between melted icecream in the shopping, or not!
  4. We use a customer relationship management system that allows us to track where any one of our vans is at any time, and what their case load is.  The result?  We always know which van is going to be able to get to you the fastest so you are let back inside as quickly as possible.

That’s how we approach things at TopLock. We keep ourselves up to date on new locks, new techniques, and are always trying to find new ways we can improve our service.