We attended a Melbourne CBD break-in this week that provided a good example of why your home security is only as strong as its weakest link. The occupants were only 5 doors down at their local having a game of pool and a beer whilst they were burgled. No one heard or saw a thing. This is how the burglary probably went down.
- Burglar comes casing the area and finds a street with back lane access.
- Burglar comes around the front, presses our new clients doorbell. No answer – he assumes no one is home.
- The front door is solid and deadlocked, the front windows are barred. Our thief is undeterred, he is going in through the back anyway.
- Our thief jumps the back fence as the gate is chained shut. Once over the fence he cuts the chain with a pair of bolt cutters so he can exit quickly with heavy items if necessary.
- The back door is NOT deadlocked, in fact, for some reason it’s not even a solid door! An internal door has been used instead. Internal doors are hollow, the hinges are small and weak, a quick kick will quickly open or break one.
- He was inside in seconds, hit the jackpot with a new TV still in its box in the loungeroom, he picked it up and legged it.
What to learn from this?
- Whilst it’s human nature to strengthen your front of house security it’s invariably the back of the house where most thieves enter. Your home security strategy should be focused at the rear.
- If like many Melbourne properties you have a back lane, understand you are at greater risk of burglary than properties without a back lane. They provide cover and access to burglars.
- Even if your back door is deadlocked and solid a would be thief is still going to gain entry fairly easily if they are determined. A security door and screens make a huge difference.
- Get creative! With home surveillance systems now very affordable you can set up a motion detection activated system that :-
- Records all access to the back of your property.
- Turns the lights on when it detects anyone.
- If you wanted to get REALLY creative you could set up a motion detector to play a message when it detects someone at your back door. How about. “Hi THERE! My name’s Jack, and I’ll be your home security system for this evening. Welcome to the back door. Please smile for the security camera which is recording your current activities. I have alerted my owner of your presence and am currently live streaming this video to his Ipad. Please state your name clearly for the record for when he hands the video over to the police, or loads it to YouTube. Or perhaps just turn around now, and cut your losses”
Melbourne’s CBD Locksmith
We attended a Balwyn lockout this week where the occupant got just a little bit too clever with his emergency key stashing. Previously he had hidden an emergency key under a pot plant…but he was always worried that was the first place a thief would look. So instead of putting it UNDER the pot plant, he put it IN the pot plant.
- Not hanging off the branches.
- Not hanging off the leaves.
- He buried it in the dirt of the potplant.
Now this plan would have work out fine but for three factors he overlooked.
- If you are going to have an emergency key stashed in a pot plant, best if the pot plant is not on your front step, where people can see you stashing it.
- If you are going to bury a key…. don’t bury it directly into the dirt…. wrap it first.
- Flatmates who lose keys might rely on the emergency key instead of replacing their own.
When we attended his premises his front door lock was jammed and he could not get his regular key to work. Try as he might, it would not budge. He had gone looking for his emergency key only to find it had disappeared from the pot plant. In a panic he called us and we got to work.
The reason the front door would not open soon became clear. The deadbolt mechanism was full of dirt from someone opening it over and over with a dirty key. Our new client bolted inside to see if he had also been burgled…. but it turned out the perpetrator was just a flatmate who had lost his key as opposed to a robber who had seen where the spare key was kept.
Our new client has wisely found a better place to stash the emergency key and we cut him a couple of spares to give his flatmate.
If you are going away on a holiday, it’s a good idea to get someone to collect your mail, cancel paper deliveries etc. Why? An overflowing mailbox is a red flag to a would-be bugler that no one is home and has not been / will not be for some time.
We attended a break-in at St Kilda recently where the owners had only been away for a week and still got burgled… likely because of an overfull mailbox. They reasoned that their huge, lockable mailbox could easily hold all their mail for a week and no need to trouble the neighbours to come and collect it. Besides, they were going away with their neighbours so there wouldn’t be anyone there to collect their mail anyway. They took their main car, and left their small town car locked in the garage.
The problem with this plan was they didn’t count on the huge amount of junk mail that always arrives just before Christmas which clogged their large mailbox. Best laid plans….
If you are going away during the holiday season we at Toplock recommend you:-
- Get someone to collect your mail.
- If you can’t get someone to collect your mail put a “no junk mail” sign on your letterbox and divert your regular mail to a post office box. They are affordable and your post office will keep your mail for several weeks if you advise them you will be away.
- Get some programmable plugin power controllers so you can randomly turn on some lights and appliances whilst you are away.
- If possible, get a neighbor to park their spare care in your driveway to make it look like someone is home. Some burglars will only target houses with no car in the driveway. We don’t recommend you leave a valuable care in the driveway—it would be terrible to come home to a hailstorm damaged car after a holiday!
- Check that all your doors and windows are securely locked before you leave. You’d be surprised how many people come home to find the back door left wide open.
- Resist the temptation to tell one and all on Facebook or Twitter you are going away. Thieves have Facebook too. Twitter is even worse as its much easier to follow anyone. Sure… share the photos of your holiday on Facebook when you return… but keep it quiet till then.
- Consider getting a house sitter if you are going to be away for more than two weeks
St. Kilda Locksmith
Another “smart car” lockout in Carlton…. I am thinking of writing to a few European car manufacturers and giving them a list of the problems they have with their car security logic.
This recent car lockout went like this.
- A lady walked out to her car to get something out of the glovebox.
- She hit the “unlock” button on her electronic key, and the car unlocked.
- She opened the front PASSENGER door, got her sunglasses out of the glovebox.
- Her phone range, she answered it, but in doing so put her keys down on the passenger seat.
- She talked for a while, when it started to rain a bit, so she closed the passenger door of the car and walked over to her house.
- At her house, she realized her keys were in the car…. but no problem.. she hadn’t locked the car so all good right?
Wrong. Her car had decided she had opened the car through the passenger door, opened the glovebox shut the glovebox, and then shut the passenger door. No keys had been placed in the ignition, thus she had entered the car to retrieve something and had now left vehicle accidentally unlocked. Her smart car then took care of this oversight and locked the car door.
The problem of course was that the car did not figure on the owner leaving the keys on the passenger seat, and these being the only set of keys for the car within 1,000kms as the spares were with her partner who was away in Sydney for the weekend.
So TopLock to the rescue.
If I was an electronic car key manufacturer with security in mind I would create a vibrating set of keys that warned the owner their car was unlocked as opposed to simply locking the car.
But for now…. it seems that the best I can do is advise people to never EVER put their keys down in the car. Even if you are just meaning to step away from the car for a moment keys being accidentally locked in the car by automated car security, or being locked in the boot after being put down and forgotten when getting something heavy out are the two most popular reasons we get called out to lockouts of modern cars so don’t get caught out.
Keys should always be placed in your pocket or purse, not in the boot or on the car seat.
Last February we got a call out to secure a property that had been burgled in Essondon. The occupants had gone away late Friday night, arrived back Monday morning to find their house pretty much emptied. Someone had arrived at their house Saturday morning with what APPEARED to be a delivery of a new home entertainment system. They carried the new boxes of equipment in and carried what looked like old items back to their truck and drove off. Some of the neighbors even chatted with one of the delivery guys about brands and models.
The only problem was… it was a burglary. The delivered boxes were empty the delivery/installation guys were simply emptying the house of its valuable electrical items. The delivery van was a cover.
Such an event required planning and knowledge that the occupants were going to be away for the weekend. How could they know?
No way to tell for sure but perhaps through Facebook? Just this week:-
- I have had 2 people from school who I was not friends with try and add me as a friend on Facebook. We were not close at school, no reason to think the time apart has brought us closer together. Turns out both of these guys have since done time. I declined to add them as Facebook friends.
- I had one person add me as a friend using a name from someone in my yearbook. They had added lots of people from school as friends and many had accepted these friendship requests. Me? I was a bit cautious. I had not known this person well at school, they had loaded no recent photos(just photos from the yearbook that were on other peoples’ pages) and I was suspicious as to who this person might in fact be. When I made some enquiries of them – they blocked me.
Perhaps it was just someone from school, of it might have been someone simply trying to track me, to find out when my house might be an easy target and rob me.(Not such an easy task mind you…. Robbing a locksmith’s home J)
Do you use a Facebook app that updates where you are? Sounds like fun right?. But its also almost an invitation to a dishonest person that your belonging are home alone whilst you are out. Use caution when using such apps.
Home security is more than making sure your home is locked up tight – it’s having taking a few precautions with who you announce your holiday plans to…. and that means being a little bit conscious of who you are adding as a friend on Facebook.
A failing lock and a leaking roof have some things in common. When it’s raining? It’s too wet to get up on the roof to fix it. When it’s not raining? Well.. it doesn’t need fixing right now… so leave it till another time right?
A failing lock which is becoming more and more difficult to open, that requires wriggling and jiggling and only works if you hold your mouth just right is like this leaking roof. The problem of the failing lock goes away as soon as you get inside so its an expense many people put off… sometimes for too long. Such was the case at an emergency lockout we attended in the Melbourne CBD this week.
We arrived at an inner city cottage to find the tenant sitting on the front steps waving too us. He explained he had been having trouble with the front door deadlock for weeks, with it getting stiffer and stiffer, requiring more and more jiggling to get it to open. He had sprayed it with wd40 to free it up which had worked for a time… but the end result was as I would have expected. The ongoing jiggling and forcing of the lock had weakened the metal of his key, and now some months after the problem first arose the key had weakened to the point where it had snapped off in the lock. He had another key – that was not the problem.. but the broken part of the key had lodged in the barrel and after making a few attempts to poke get it out with tweezers he had given up and given us a call.
The temptation to try and remove a key broken off in a lock is pretty high. You want to get inside, you don’t want to have to pay for a locksmith, you can see the broken bit of key and it looks like it might just come out with a bit of poking and prodding… I get it. But truly? Getting a broken off key out of a deadlock is no easy task and you risk making it impossible by pushing it further in. Far better to give TopLock a call and have us come out with the proper tools(we have tools made just for this type of broken off key recovery) .
If you are a tenant with a sticking lock problem make sure you put the landlord on notice IN WRITING about the problem so if they are not diligent in getting it fixed and you end up stuck outside needing a locksmith, you have better chance of recovering the callout cost. Sure… ring them to let them know as well but bang off a letter, email or fax as well and ask for confirmation of it.
Today was our new clients lucky day and using two specialised broken key recovery tools we were able to prize the broken key out of the lock. The barrel itself was fine and didn’t need replacing… the cause of the sticking was… a stick! Someone at some stage had stuck a tiny stick in the lock which was causing problems with the barrel mechanism. Once this was removed the barrel was fine.
A few tips?
- Keys aren’t meant to bend. If your key is constantly bending… take this as a warning its going to break, and likely you have a problem with your lock.
- Fix problem locks sooner not later. Getting locked out is not fun, and when it happens, its most often a Murphy’s law moment – the worst possible time.
Melbourne’s CBD Locksmith
We got called out to a late night lockout in Bundoora this week, our new client had snapped his key off in the front door lock. Unfortunately instead of thinking ‘if the key’s not turning, there must be something wrong’ this customer decided to use excessive force to try and open the lock and, snap went the key.
After finding us online and making the call we were there in under 20 minutes.
I had the broken key out in record time. As with any lockout I began the process of advising our new client that he’d need to provide evidence that this was his residence before I could let him in. During this explanation he was fiddling with his keys. Suddenly, looking rather sheepish he spoke up. “I don’t think you need to let me into the house, I think I have another front door key on my key ring”.
His key ring had roughly 15 keys on it and sure enough, after a bit of fumbling around he slotted a key into the front doorlock, it turned and he was inside. It was then he admitted he must have put an old key in the front door. Usually the lock requires a bit of effort to turn and he thought it was just more stubborn than usual so he tried to force it. It didn’t occur to him that he had the wrong key.
Some tips and advice
Don’t keep old keys on your key ring – If there is a chance you might need your old keys, keep them on another key ring that you don’t carry around. You will save your pockets, carry less weight and there’s no chance of using the wrong key in current locks. You can also damage your car ignition by having a heavy key ring dragging down on the ignition key.
Try pliers if you break a key – If you break a key off in a lock barrel you might be able to retrieve it yourself with pliers, It just depend on the break point of the key and how much grip you can get. If this is not possible we have specialist locksmith tools to quickly and efficiently remove the key without any damage to your lock
Don’t try and push the broken key in – If you think the key will fall out the other side, it won’t. Chances are you’ll guarantee the need for a barrel replacement.
A little bit of deadlock maintenance can go a long way to saving yourself from getting locked out – something a new client found out the hard way this week in Epping. Our new client had not lost her keys but her deadlock had “failed” and she was unable to access her house.
A quick inspection of the deadlock revealed the cause. The face-plate of the deadlock had come loose allowing the barrel to move when the key was turned. Often there is a period where though the barrel slips, you can still turn it enough to get inside. Our client had been ignoring the problem hoping someone else would eventually fix it. Someone else did eventually, but regrettably it was us.
Our new Epping client mentioned she hoped the landlord would cover the cost of the callout… but I don’t think this is likely. She had been aware of the problem for some time and did not report it. Unlikely the landlord would now see themselves as being responsible for a locksmith callout that could have been avoided if someone had reported the problem earlier.
Some tips for a slipping deadlock barrel.
- Assuming you can still open the door? Fix it now. Don’t wait till it’s too late.
- Often all that is required is a small Philips head screw driver. You will be able to tighten the barrel either by simply tightening the screws on the deadlock face-plate.( accessible when the door is open) or in some cases, you will need to remove the face-plate and re-seat the barrel if its worked its way too far out.
- Some security doors come with a face-plate that can only be accessed with a special tool. If that is the case with yours… don’t try opening it if you don’t have the tool…. You’ll just damage it. Contact the security door company, or call us, we can help.
- Don’t assume if something goes wrong it’s the landlords responsibility to reimburse you. Landlords don’t have a responsibility to reimburse costs caused by lack of diligence in reporting such problems. In any case? It might be better to simply secure the faceplate yourself if you can and avoid a landlord looking for reasons to up your rent?
We attended a callout to an emergency lockout in Fairfield this week. The cause? A dodgy keyring with too many keys on it. Our new client had come home after being out all day, pulled out his keys to open the front door only to realise he was missing several keys off his key ring. He couldn’t work out how the keys had come to be missing till we quizzed him about his key ring. This is how we think it happened.
His key ring was made up of several rings joined together and one of the rings was made out of poor quality metal, allowing it to become bent out of shape. He had been at the supermarket and getting his keys out of his pocket, he had accidentally pulled some change out of his pocket at the same time.
He retrieved the change but we think the sound of the change hitting the ground disguised the sound of his house key falling of the dodgy key ring. Either way? The house key was gone, and it was his only one.
Our advice? Check out your key ring. Do you have many rings joined together? Are any of them misshapen, or made of soft metal? These are a lockout waiting to happen. Keyrings are cheap and can save you money.
- Try and limit the number of keys you carry on your keyring. The more keys you have, the more rings you’ll need, the more chance something will go wrong.
- If you ever get a new key for some reason of another, and that key comes on a thin, soft metal easily bent wire ring? The ring is NOT a key ring its just a display ring. You don’t want to trust your keys with it. Take the key off this small ring, throw it away and put your key on a proper, larger key ring.
- The old style, metal key rings are great… but there are new options on the market. Twisty style keyrings that are almost impossible to damage or open accidentally, whilst being much easier to open than a normal keyring when you want to add or remove keys.
- Don’t try and cut down on the amount of keys on your key ring by placing them in your wallet. Wallets get lost, a key in a wallet is an invitation for a burglar to come and
- Rob you whilst you are out.
- Come and collect your NEW credit cards and pin numbers from your letterbox whilst you are at work – the ones you reported stolen and are now trying to get replaced.
We got a call back from this client to say he had gone back to the shopping center in Fairfield where he thought he had dropped his key and had found is lying on the ground right near where he had parked. As we had suspected…. it was a dodgy stretched wire loop masqeurading as a keyring. Wire loops. Are not key rings!
We took a call recently from a pretty frantic young lady who made it clear she needed locksmith at her house in Burwood within 20 minutes due to a lockout emergency. She didn’t clarify why on the phone but she seemed scared and sincere so we scrambled a van to her lickety split. I had an idea what it might be about – normally its an ex who has keys who has not taken the news well that he is now an ex and shouldn’t be letting himself into the apartment or house anymore. A lot of times it seems rocky relationships end then restart and then when they end for good? Not everyone gets the message straight away.
So I arrive in under 10 minutes to find my new client standing on the front steps waving at me urgently, he phone in hand. Apparently her ex, a member of an organisation that involves bikes, tattoos… well… you get the picture…. has just been let out of prison frmo a recent stint and is on his way to rekindle their romance. The romantic fires however, have greatly cooled for our new client…. and I can see the reason standing in the hallway, – her new beau. Clean cut looking guy, he seems no pushover physically standing at well over 6 foot and a pretty big guy… but apparently Mr Ex is a bit of a cranky lad and its likely to shortly get messy.
I felt like i was working for the bomb squad, trying to defuse a bomb which was counting down, one that could explode at any moment. I had the front door deadlock off and change in record time, and the back one done even faster. I checked all the windows – they were all secure with bars and interior locks. We were good to go, house as secure as we could get in in 30 minutes. Just in time too. I was back in my van and driving off as large Harley pulled up, and Mr Ex appeared on the scene. A monster of a man, Mr clean cut was in some serious trouble. I pulled over to see what happened and whether i was going to need to call the Police or not. Mr huge walks up to the door and raps on it loudly. There is an obvious exchange through the door for a few minutes… then the door opens(No! I am thinking) and they all stand and talk for a couple of minutes, then Mr Huge tips his cap, walks out to his bike and rides off.
I was too curious, and drove back to the house to find out what had happened.
Apparently, Mr huge had found Jesus whilst in the joint, and also received counselling for his addictive tendencies which apparently included drink, drugs, gambling and violence. He was now on a path to redemption and as part of that path he was sorting out his past, apologising to those he had hurt one way or another.
Not at all the ending we at all expected, but certainly one everyone was happy with