Locksmith locked out of Car – Malvern

This story shows that even locksmiths can get themselves in a spot of bother.  We had a new apprentice start with us in 2014.  Nice young bloke, eager to learn, always on time and keen to get into it.  The sort of kid you hope to get and then you hope he can maintain the level he starts with….. Sometimes though the old bull has to tell the young bull to stop running around so frantically and just take things a bit slower… so says this old bull.

We took a job at an address on Clarke Street South Melbourne and took junior with me. House was pretty schmancy and the new owners wanted a full set of new locks on all the doors.

I drove up to the house the 2 days after Christmas.  The owners opened the gate for me from inside the house and I took my van right into the long, narrow drive and parked it in a spot near the inner gate to the main house. I got out, and walked to the front door with junior, and figured I’d come back for my tools after I’d spoken to the new owners, so it was just me, junior  and my business cards walking up to greet the owners of this luxurious home.  Then junior says he’s left his phone in the car can he have the keys to go get it.  “No Problem” I say, and off he goes.

I greet the owner at the door, discuss the job, I have a look over the doors, windows, and recommend a central locking system with a pin number entry.  These things are awesome especially for large digs.  You can lock the whole house at one push of a button.  So its all mapped out, we shake on it and I’m heading back to the van to order the system.  Next day delivery, we will be back to install it in the morning

I am greeted by junior looking both sheepish and a bit scared. 

Where’s the keys junior?
In the car boss.

Car locked junior?
Yep.

How’d you do that junior?
They fell out of my hand as as closed the door, the door closed, and then somehow the doors locked with the keys inside.

Did you get any tools out first?
No

So we are standing here, locksmiths, locked out of our car, locked inside this client’s yard,… he is about to buzz us out and we can’t drive off?
Yep.

I put in an emergency call to base, and luckily was able to get one of the boys there in 5 minutes as we had another van close by in Prahran.  I didn’t really want to admit to the owner that we’d stuffed up, so I went back to the house, introduced Junior and asked for permission for him to do an appraisal of the house security, to see if he would make any different recommendations to me.  The owner was receptive to the idea and so junior went around the house looking for entry points. He didn’t find anything else… but he did see a cat go in through a cat flap, and leave pretty quickly as it was swatted by a broom…. so he recommended a “let my cat in only” cat door that would stop the neighbors cat raiding the cat food.

Our new client was pretty impressed, and we wrapped things up just as a got a text saying recovery van two was out the front.  We tipped out caps, junior ran all the way down the long drive to the front gate, got the spare keys to the van and we were in an off without the client being any the wiser….. unless he reads this one day…

Of course it was junior’s chance to get a ribbing at the next weekly meeting. It just goes to show the… everyone is human. 

 

Halloween – Locksmith punked by the team in Northcote

We have a close nit team working at Toplock Locksmiths – sure we are a workplace but we make sure all our crew feel supported and welcome.  It takes a long time to find good people in this industry and when you find them.. you want to do everything in your power to keep them.  Once a week we do a catch up session to talk over jobs done, challenges faced…. we share experiences and solutions and thus the whole team learns and improves.  It can be all sorts of things.  Someone might have found a faster way to get from a. to b. so its programmed into our GPS systems so everyone can use it.  Someone might have been called out to an apartment to replace a broken lock, and realised the whole apartment building had the same poor quality locks fitted so we’d get in touch with the corporate body to help them with it.  Or someone might just have a funny lockout story.

Usually they are real and serious…. but I got seriously punked in the end of 2013 with this one.

I hesitate to write about this ‘event’ because even now, after two and a half years, the memory of that night still sends a chill down my spine. But I’ve finally gathered the courage to tell the story without breaking out into a cold sweat, so here goes.

At exactly 11:35 pm on October 31st 2011, we received a call from the Northcote Cemetery saying could we send someone over immediately because there was a lockout emergency, a family crypt lock had been broken and a widow was trying to get in on the anniversary of her husband’s death. I remember the exact time because I was having a hot cup of hot chocolate and looked at the clock just as the call was patched through to me. My first thought was actually as “black humour” as you can get: “Now who’d be in a hurry to get into a cemetery before midnight on Halloween?” Of course I couldn’t say that to the client so I took down his name and said I’d meet him at the gate in 5 minutes. It was actually only a two-minute drive away on Separation Street and though I was thinking “I better finish this hot chocolate – it  might be my last.” I got straight in the van and was on my way.

Anyway, five minutes later I was at the front gate and there was nobody there. Now, the street is well-lit, but the cemetery itself isn’t a place that can actually be well-lit. What I mean is, no matter how much light you get in there, it’s…well, a cemetery.

So now I’ve been there for about 10 minutes and my watch shows me it’s ten minutes to midnight. On Halloween Eve.  Beside a graveyard.

Then I hear the distinct voice of a little girl right behind me, “Please sir. Let me in. I must get in now.” I nearly jumped out of my skin at the sound of her voice, but what really had my hairs on end was the fact that there was no one about! Now I’m not the easiest guy to scare – I always watched The Exorcist alone – and at night; but this was too much. Sweating like a horse now, I scanned the bushes nearby to see if someone was hiding there. I found no one. That voice came in loud and clear again: “Please sir. Let me in. I must get in now.” It was one minute to midnight.

On the strike of 12, there was a loud scream from the same girl and I nearly wet the front of my pants. I ran to my car as quick as I could, but then I heard laughter – men this time, several of them.

In about a minute I was feeling like a mug because four guys from my office rolled out of a car nearby laughing their heads off with a “Trick or Treat!” They had hidden a small Bluetooth MP3 player in the bushes with the girl’s voice recorded – I found out it was the daughter of one of the guys – and had been trying to keep from laughing out loud until it was time to break it to me.

I’ve never been so embarrassed in my life! I was a good sport, they said; I was a true hero, they said – laughing all the while. Needless to say a the catch up meeting the following week, it was my adventure that got top billing.

I can’t complain though – it really was a well executed trick… I just wish it had been on someone else other than me.

Watch out guys…. pranks go both ways and I’ll be thinking hard about mine.

 

 

Car Lockout in St Kilda – Boot entry required

We got a call out last week to St Kilda about a car lockout.  Bit of a tricky one.

a. Keys were left in the car.
b. Car had auto locked itself.
c. Park Lights had been left on (the little beeping alarm apparently was broken)
d. Most of the car doors had no key entry – they were all operated by the remote.  The driver’s door had a key entry, but it was damaged…. So that left the only entry point being through the boot.

So!  We had to pop the lock on the boot, then climb through the back seat to the front to rescue the keys.  The Toplock locksmith on this job was Brad.  Now Brad is the kind of guy you want to send out on late night locksmith jobs.  He is a big, burly no nonsense fellow.  But you don’t want to have Brad try and climb into your boot and through your back seat of you tiny little Toyota.  Just not built for that sort of work.

Luckily our new client was a bit of a contortionist.  Dead set.  She was a contortionist and performed in a circus doing all these body bending tricks.  She was into that boot and into the back seat in a flash, keys happily retrieved.

Of course the battery was dead as dead… so we ended up giving the young lass a quick jumpstart as well.

Whenever we provide entry to a vehicle or car…. We need to see proof the person gaining entry is the owner.  With car’s its especially important that the person can provide such evidence.  With a house, its easier to show provide prima facie evidence you are a resident using your driver’s license… then we investigate a bit further to ensure the driver’s license details are current.

With a car, it’s a bit more tricky.  Drivers licenses don’t link to cars, and cars often don’t have rego papers in the glove box.  So….we need to be a bit more creative with the prospective owner needing to be able to accurately describe things such as the contents of the glove box, the boot etc,

In this case, the young lady had left her car in Brunswick after driving to her 21st and she had left some presents in the car which she was able to describe.  The problem was… the presents were clearly visible through the window… so this was not enough, anyone could have seen them.  She then reluctantly described a particular present she’d received that she had stashed in the glove box.  Without giving too much away, it had batteries in it and it wasn’t a tv remote control.

Being a consummate professional Brad apparently hardly even cracked a smile, but I note on the docket he filled out detailing what evidence he had found to show the client was the car owner he drew a picture of the item and added a smiley face.

Few people prepare to be locked out of their car or home and quite frankly, we don’t recommend anyone every does.  Prepare so you AREN’T locked out of your house or car sure… but no one is ever really prepared to prove they are the owner/resident of the home/car when required to do so.

All the same?  It’s good to have at least a basic idea of what is in your glovebox should the need arise.  If the little beeping device that tells you your keys are still in the ignition or your lights have been left on is broken?  Fix it.  We are so reliant on these devices nowadays it’s only a matter of time till your are either locked out, or your lights are left on.

St. Kilda Locksmith

Locked out in Richmond – The Flower Thief

We had an emergency locksmith  callout to a man locked out of his house in Richmond this week. His tale of woe has to be one of the funniest we’ve had to date so I felt to share it.

I arrived at about 9.30pm on a Friday evening at a Richmond house to find our new customer sitting on his front porch.  His pants were badly ripped,he had a black eye and it seemed his nose had been bleeding. Sitting beside him was a rather mangled bouquet of flowers. I went through the normal procedure of determining who he was and ensuring this was indeed his home and then he told me what happened.

He had been in a long term, long distance friendship with a girl he had met on a holiday when travelling to Australia two decades previously.  They had kept in touch for almost 20 years as penpals and then via emails until one day they decided to turn their distance romance into a real romance and he flew back to Australia so they could be together. Today marked the 20th anniversary of their first meeting.

A romantic dinner had been planned for that evening(his new /old love was working whilst he was at home for the day) but things started to go bad when a mate popped over and suggested a quick beer.  Looking at his watch, 6 hrs till dinner, he accepted but a quick beer, soon turned into a quick game of pool, and a few more quick beers and then some long stories… and then he noticed the lengthening shadows outside.  A quick glance at his phone told him dinner, 12 blocks away on Doncaster Rd was in 20 minutes. 

He had no present organised, no flowers, he was pretty damn drunk, not dressed to impress and a bit on the nose.  Wallet was empty even if there was time to buy flowers. A quick scrub up in the bathroom was all he had time to organise then he made the fateful decision to run to the restaurant taking a detour through Boroondara cemetery to pinch some flowers.  At least.. he would turn up with flowers.

Execution of the drunken cemetery flower heist did not go entirely to plan however.  He was spotted pinching the flowers, made a run for it, had to scale a fence, got his pants caught on the fence badly ripping them, landed face first on the other side almost breaking his nose and giving himself a black eye… He bounced up and ran off thinking perhaps it was still a salvageable evening, he could make up some tripping over story….  He made it to the restaurant only 20 minutes late, sat down bleeding, handed over the very squashed bouquet of flowers which still had the card mentioning the recently deceased person on it.  It seems the recently deceased had the same name as his rather attractive next door neighbor so all hell broke loose as his beloved accused him of having a drunken affair with the neighbor mixing up the flowers and getting beaten up by the neighbors husband… so he came clean and admitted what had happened.

Suffice to say…. he got little sympathy, certainly no love that night… and his chosen one took herself out for the night as he skulked home to find the ripped pants included a ripped pocket and his keys had fallen out and were now lost.  Phone calls to his lady love to come home and let him in, were going straight to message bank so he called Toplock.  We were at his home in Richmond within 15 minutes.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone looking quite so glum.  I had his house unlocked in 2 minutes, and after proving he was the resident he flopped face down on the couch and I left him to it. 

A word of advice? If a mate comes around for a quick beer when you have a big event happening later on? 

Just say no. 

The best Christmas present for us? A review for our Locksmiths Services from Melbourne residents would be great!

Christmas is only a few days away and everyone is super busy Christmas shopping and getting ready for the big day. We don’t really want much for Christmas from anyone but if you really want to give us something, please write us a review!

We take great pride in our work at TopLock Locksmiths and have worked really hard lately to get the best team possible. We’re setting new records all the time!

We want to know what our customers think of our services. We have had a lot of great reviews for our Word of Mouth Online and are one of their top rated Locksmiths in Melbourne and even won awards there last year.

It would be great for anyone who has used us before to leave us a review on there or Google Maps / Places too.

Because we are a mobile Locksmith service (we always have a few vans on the road) we don’t just operate in our home town of Northcote but we operate all over Melbourne. So from Footscray to Epping, Coburg to Toorak, TopLock Locksmiths has all these locations and anything in between covered!

So if you have used our services before and thought we did a good job, we’d love to hear from you and please mention who did the work for you as we like to know how our guys are doing so we can continue to keep giving our customers the best service possible! 

Thanks again to all the lovely people who have used our services and given us feedback! We will continue to keep up our high standard of work throughout the holidays and into 2014. Remember we’re on the road 24/7 every day of the year so if you ever get locked out, you know who to call!

Auto Electrician in Carlton? No just Toplock to the rescue

This wasn’t a job went top where Toplock was called out to help…. This was more a case of the job itself calling out to us.  One of the Toplock guys heard a car alarm going off near his home in Carlton and he did what most people do when they hear a car alarm. He ignored it. It only went off for a few minutes and then stopped and it wasn’t even particularly loud.  He assumed someone had accidentally set off their own car alarm and then turn it off.

Over the next few days though… he heard what appeared to be the same car alarm going off over and over.  Sometimes during the day. Sometimes in the middle of the night.  He also heard quite a lot of choice use of language -some combinations of words that he’d actually never heard before.  Clearly this car alarm was causing some people a fair amount of distress.  So the next time it went off he went to investigate.

He followed the sound of the noise and was soon standing beside an older model VW Golf – it was maybe 15 years old. Just as he peaked in the window the alarm turned off and he looked up to see a young lady walking over looking rather harried.  He introduced himself and asked if she was having a problem with the car to which she answered yes, her car alarm kept going off a few minutes after she got out of it, even though she was sure she was turning it off.  Thee auto electrician had not been able to easily find the problem and was quoting around $700 to troubleshoot and fix it. She didn’t have the money and didn’t know what to do.  As she was explaining all this to me a neighbourly gent opened his window and yelled out if the car alarm kept going off he was going to blow it up. (the car)

Now none of us at TopLock are auto electricians but we see problems similar to this all the time and there is one thing we do know.  Car alarms are connected to the battery so my guy got the young ladyto pop the bonnet and  showed how to easily uncouple one of the battery connections to prevent the alarm going off. Okay – this was not a long-term fix a starting the car required reconnecting the battery and her interior clock was never going to tell the right time but at least now it was going to prevent a car fire.

 Next, my guy said he would see if he could Google the problems because there is quite often a solution to these quirky problems online. Turns out he was right the exact problem was detailed in a VW enthusiasts forum – the problem goes like this.

  1. VW’s have a computer that connects to the car alarm and all the door sensors.
  2. When the car is unlocked the computer records which doors are opened or closed.
  3. Faulty senses are often the cause of strange behaviour from the car alarm.
  4. One of the safety features of the VW is a system to remind the driver if they have locked a child in the car accidentally to prevent the child dying as a result of overheating ( in Australia) or freezing (in Europe). If the VW computer records the back door was opened indicating a child got in the back…. if the driver exits the car and locks it without opening one of the back doors –  the car alarm will go off to warn the driver they may have left a child in the car.
  5. Quite often a faulty sensor sends a message to the computer that the back door has been opened even if it hasn’t so the computer thinks there is someone in the back seat who has not exited the car every time the car stops.

The solution?  All the young lady had to do to prevent the problem was to get out of the car, open and close the back left passenger door and then lock the car.  A bit of a nuisance but a nuisance that saved her $700.

We  didn’t bill her for our time because strictly speaking we weren’t taking part in a paid job but it sure gave us a fun story to write about.

Have you ever had a similar quirky problem with your central locking or car alarm? If so we’d love to hear from you, use the contact form on this website to let me know how it went down to you.

Carlton Locksmith

Locked out in St Kilda – a self closing / locking Security Door.

I turned up to a property in St Kilda late at night last week and though it was not quite as secure as your average crack dealer’s home in downtown LA… security was tight. Obvious surveillance system, well secured doors and windows – I was surprised and more than a little impressed. St Kilda properties are known for having good security… but this was taking it to another level. To add mystery to the job…. I was greeted by a scantily dressed young woman looking rather embarrassed out the front. This is not the first time this has happened, in fact I am greeted by people locked out of their homes in states of undress so often I’ve now ordered small and large robes our customers can put on during such emergencies.

As it turns out, the house had indeed once been rented by some rather salubrious characters who were using the house to run an “exotic indoor garden center” if you get my drift…. They were caught, packed off to gaol, and the landlord got to rent the house out with all this you beaut security stuff which had been installed by the previous tenants. The problem is the new tenant was not used to such uncompromising home security and just before going to be had gone out the front door to put her cat out…. only to get locked out by her own house which had a self closing, self locking front door. No alarm system… but this was a door that was meant to withstand a sledge hammer. It was bolted into the bricks. Likewise, all windows had similar security. No one was breaking in here too easily that’s for sure.

The door itself was a triple point lock door, so it locked at the top, middle and bottom of the door and the door itself probably weighed 50kilograms. Wowsers.

Now you don’t see a door like this every day… but faced with the skills of a TopLock locksmith I was inside in 10 minutes.

The moral of the story here is when you move into premises with increased security, or if you beef up the security of your own house… you need to change your mindset a little when it comes to maintaining your method of re entry into the house. That “I am so safe” feeling you get from looking at the inside of your locked door will quickly change to a feeling of “I am so screwed” as you see your front door lock itself as you are walking back from checking the mailbox…

  1. Consider a keypad entry instead of keys. For starters, it’s much easier to lock your whole house at once, you don’t have to carry house keys and you will never be locked out again.
  2. If you don’t want to go keyless, stash a key somewhere. Not under the mat, and not where someone can see you retrieving it. Somewhere clever.

But all’s well that ends well…. operation Toplock Bathrobe begins today, I will get back to you with some pictures when they arrive.

St. Kilda Locksmith

Justin featured on MyChildMagazine.Com.au

Justin Fankhauser has been all over the media lately with his new book Confessions of a Locksmith: An Insider’s Guide to Securing Your House and Business. Surprisingly he has popped up in a few family and parenting websites and magazines. Here you can check out the top 6 home security tips from his book on MyChildMagazine.com.au. They include tips on how to make your house look like someone is home when you’re away and how to make it harder for intruders to exit your property with larger items. 

These sort of tips are handy for people of all ages, your whole family should keep these ideas in mind to help make your house less desirable to burglars. 

 Toplock in My Child Magazine

 

Confessions of a Locksmith in Men’s Health Magazine

Tips to burglar-proof your home by Justin Fankhauser

These five tips were published in the November issue of Men’s Health Magazine. Here’s a scan and and a summary in case you missed this issue!

Summary:

  • Dead bolts are good for making it difficult for burglars to enter or exit the property with bigger items.
  • Basic alarm systems limit the time the intruder can spend on your premises before authorities can arrive. 
  • You can now get alarms that are pet friendly and won’t be activated when your pets are in the house.
  • Trees and shrubs can be good hiding spots for burglars.
  • Don’t leave tools or ladders outside to assist burglars with their entry.
  • Don’t leave packaging of new items like your big new TV in plain view, it could invite people to come and steal it.
  • Leave some sneakers at the door and the radio on it make it seem like someone is home, this will make burglars less likely to enter.

Thanks Men’s Health Magazine for the mention! We hope these tips help your readers out one day! For more tips and advice, check out our book Confessions of a Locksmith by Justin Fankhauser. 

 

 

Toplock’s top 12 Security Tips

Tip 1 Sneak Attack Sneakers by the door.
Yep, you read that right. I employed this old trick years ago at a residential property I had recently purchased. This was a brand new house that I had bought from the builder. It showed; many of the homes on the street were unoccupied. SneakersSo, as soon as the deal was done and the papers signed, I drove right over and put a pair of sneakers right at the front door. Believe it or not the next day my real estate agent rang me at 7.00 am. “Are you in your new house?” he asked. “No, I’m not.”

“Well,” he said in a panic, “there’s a pair of sneakers at the front door. Someone’s in there! Should I ring the police?” PS – for best effect, use running shoes that are well worn in and a bit scruffy.

Tip 2 The Sound of Safety
radioBuy an inexpensive radio and turn it on when you are going out. Better yet, put it on a timer, so it comes on at various times during the day. Radios don’t use too much power and when they are on, they make it sound as if someone is at home. Why does this work? It has to do with the weakest link theory. Burglars rob a home that is the weakest link. Weak link homes and businesses are ones with inferior security and those that do not seem to be lived in. The sound of music playing really makes it seem as though someone is at home. It’s a small measure that can make a big difference.

Tip 3 Curb Your Thief
All homeowners are proud of their homes. We all talk about curb appeal. How proud we are to drive up to our home when they have big bushy trees and colourful shrubs up front and centre. The problem is that those big trees and shrubs are perfect hiding places for burglars. Tall trees are ladders that thieves can use to climb into a second- storey window. Keep tall trees and fat bushes far from your home.

Tall FenceDo you like tall fences? You may think they keep people out, but what they also do is hide people once they are inside. If it must be a tall fence, make it an iron one that people can see through. The rungs should be spaced closely so that a person can’t fit through. So, if it’s solid, keep it away from your house!

Tip 4 From Lawn to Garage
ToolsMost burglars don’t walk around with a jimmy bar in their pocket. Some carry a few handy tools with them, but most times they will use something they find lying around the yard to help them break into a home. Garden tools are used for smashing windows; ladders help thieves get to those windows on the second floor at the back of the house. Long- handledshovels with steel heads are particularly useful. Keep these and similar items locked up tight inside a shed. Don’t scrimp on the locks of your shed.

Better yet, keep tools in your garage. You think that’s inconvenient? Think about this: what’s more inconvenient? Having to walk to your garage to pull out your garden shears, or having to deal with losing your valuables and feeling insecure because you’re been burgled?

Tip 5 No Sensory Deprivation
Think about it. Are you more likely to do a nasty deed if someone can see you or if they can’t? I’ll answer that one for you. Nobody wants to be caught being naughty. That even applies to burglars.

LightsSensor lights are not expensive. These days, they can be mounted easily and run on batteries. Put them outside in all the nooks and crannies. Buy the kind that light up any time there is motion. You don’t even have to hardwire them. Low maintenance, easy to install.

No burglar wants to risk getting caught. The second that light shines, a thief, like a rat, will go scurrying. Put these up at the front and the back of your property.

An alternative is a timer light. These give the illusion that someone is inside the premises and can be set to come on and off at different times every night. A few of each kind, strategically placed, will provide an effective deterrent against night-time prowlers.

Tip 6 No Chains, Thank You
ChainsHardware stores sell a lot of chains. We’re talking about the ones you put on your doorframes. They break easily. You open the door a crack, and immediately someone can stick their foot in; apply a bit of force and crack, the chain busts and a burglar, thief, your nasty ex, or whomever, is standing right next to you. But that’s not the main reason why we’re not a big fan of these. Many who buy them think it means their home is secure. It’s not. Things worse than feet can fit through a door opened even if the chain holds. These include a gun and a knife. Want to see who’s on the other side of your door? Install a peephole. If that’s not allowed? Just talk to the person. If you don’t recognize their voice, for sure, don’t open the door. No chain, no pain. That’s our answer and we’re sticking to it.

Tip 7 Stick It To ‘Em
Yes, keep that radio playing from time to time when you’re out and about. Get a CCTV. The fact remains: no matter how much you spend on security, thieves will always wonder, Is it real, or is it Memorex? (as the saying goes).

Warnign SIgnOne thing is for sure. It’s kind of tough to buy something that looks like this: Maybe a friendly security company will give you such a sign – even if you’re not “signed up” – but, probably not. So, if you’ve got it, flaunt it. Place stickers announcing that you’ve got security protecting you and place them as close to your front door and windows as you can. Think they’re ugly? I’d rather a little ugly than a lot broken into.

Tip 8 Keep It Safe
SafeIt is absolutely amazing, but believe it or not thousands of people leave keys, jewellery, cash, their legal documents, discs with data lying in plain view all around the house. These items belong in a safe.

Safes come in all shapes and sizes. They can be wall-mounted or free standing and can be adapted for any application within your house or business.

There are three styles of safes: plate, steel fire safes and data. Safes are opened by either a key lock or a combination. The combination can be manual or digital. A plate safe is mainly used to store cash as these are hardest to break into. However, these are not fireproof, so if your house burns, your cash will go up in smoke.

A fire safe is steel on the outside but has an interior anti-fire coating. Contents placed within it will not burn for two hours. Cash, passports, important documents, jewellery, and keys are typically kept in this type of safe. A data safe is quite similar to a fire safe and is typically used inside a business to protect important data. What all these safes have in common is that they are heavy. They can even be bolted into cement. The fact that they are also locked makes it difficult for a burglar to get into what’s inside. So, if it’s valuable, and you want to keep it safe, buy a safe. It’s your best choice.

Tip 9 Pack It Up
Pack it UpWe see it all the time, and so do you. It’s just that you’re not a burglar (we hope), so you don’t pay attention. But thieves do. You buy a high-ticket item like a TV. You unpack it, install it and you’re in hog heaven.

A few days later your house is robbed. Wonder why? You left a nice big sign in front of your house. “We’re rich. We bought a brand new TV.” In burglar- speak that’s, “We’re careless, take it away.”

Keep those boxes inside your garage. Wait until the morning your garbage or paper goods are being picked up. Better yet, break those boxes into small pieces before you dispose of them.

This goes double when you move into a new home. Don’t put all those boxes out on the street at once. That’s a sign that there are lots more packed boxes inside the home. They are all already packed. They’re probably labelled “master bedroom,” (that means jewellery). Or “kitchen” (that means silverware). Pack and unpack smart.

Tip 10 Stick It to It
Window W0odThis one is an oldie but a goodie. Almost every home has some sort of sliding door or window. If you’ve gotten this far, you probably know that this door or window should have a proper lock. Be that as it may, a lock can sometimes be picked, or it can get old and loosen easily. Add extra protection. Place a stick of wood in the track where the door or window slides back and forth. Don’t use a dowel. Many people try using a dowel rather than a piece of wood because dowels may be easier to find. The reason for using a stick of wood is its shape. It is not round; a dowel is. Therefore, a dowel can roll, or be easily pushed out of the track. A square piece of wood cut so that it fits snugly will make a door or window tough to jimmy open. Here’s what one looks like when it is properly placed in a window track.

Tip 11 Foolish Travels
Empty HouseWhen you’re away from home you should not leave your house empty. 

It’s very worthwhile to have someone stay in your house if you intend to travel for any length of time. If you don’t know of anyone, go searching the internet for accredited house exchange organisations like Couchsurfing. If you’re not into having someone stay in your house, at least do the following when you’re out of town. Have someone pick up your mail. Put your lights and TV on timers. Have someone put garbage in front of your house on the day the garbage man comes (even if it’s their garbage). Make your house looked lived in, even when it’s not.

Tip 12 Peace of Mind
These tips aren’t going to prevent you from being burgled, and maybe you’ve heard some of them before. We hope that coming from professionals, you’ll pay attention to them! We’ve put this last because the intention of this book is to keep you and your possessions safe. Sometimes, however, there is just nothing you can do. You are out of town, that uninvited guest comes calling and you arrive home to find that your home has been burgled. If you have done the three things listed here, the rocky road ahead will be just a bit smoother. Yes, we’ll need to come out and rekey your home and your car. You’ll have a few other things to sort out. But, you’ll have a head start on getting back to life as usual.

ONE: Identify your belongings, both at home and at work. There are marker pens specifically designed for this. They are infrared. If your items are found by police, searched for at pawnshops, etc., one swipe with a proper light and they are proven to be yours.

cameraTWO: About every six months, just go around your home and take pictures. Do so from various angles so you get photos of all the furniture, the items on the walls, the carpets, the cars. Open any cabinets that have expensive items in them. Use a video camera and verbally identify the items if you prefer. Keep pictures or discs in a proper safe or deposit box at the bank. In case of mishap you can prove what was taken. Your insurance company will love you. Also, take a picture whenever you buy something expensive.

THREE: Insurance. If you can’t afford to replace it but you must have it, insure it. Keep receipts.

Peace of mind is priceless.