Most cars are stolen using stolen keys

If you have had a break in and your spare set of house keys has been stolen, it’s most likely that your car keys have also been stolen. Of course, it’s best not to leave an extra car key where it can be found, but if you have, all is not lost. Your car can be rekeyed, just as your home and office can.

The way that a locksmith will go about rekeying your car is somewhat dependent on the age of your car. If your car was made before 2000 your locksmith will rekey the lock and the key much as he would your front door. Presuming your car was made after 2000, there’s a transponder chip within the head of the key.

car-keyIf that chip is not present, the car will not start. A locksmith who is a member of the MLA will have access to the correct code to program onto a new transponder chip so that your car will now start. Once this is done, all the car locks (door, trunk, glove box if applicable) will be rekeyed and you will be given a key that will work in them.

Long gone are the days when you can just walk in and have a car key duplicated. Though you may think the process of having to go to a special locksmith to get your car rekeyed is a hassle, it is for your protection. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve seen burglars rob a home and drive away with the goods, in the homeowner’s car!

When to Rekey your Home or Business

 

  • After a burglary has taken place is probably the nastiest time to rekey because it means you’ve been robbed.
  • It’s also good to rekey if you’ve lost a set of keys, or even if you think you’ve lost them. We all misplace things. But if it’s keys and you’re not sure, better to be safe them sorry.
  • Or let’s say a new worker has been to your house.
  • Or perhaps a good friend is all of a sudden not a friend anymore.

 Take a look around. If it’s a key and you can’t find it, get rekeyed. As they say, an ounce of prevention!

Here’s another time to rekey your locks: when you move into a new home, whether you’ve bought or rented. People overlook this. Even if you’re purchasing a brand new home, or you’re the first renters in a newly-built apartment complex, someone has entered the premises before you.

This may be the builder, an electrician, plumber, carpenter, etc. Yes, the builder (etc.) is probably reputable. But where has this person’s key ring been? Set down at a restaurant? Left in an unlocked car? You never know. So, the minute you sign on the dotted line, rekey everything. Rekeying is much less expensive than changing all the locks. When people think about rekeying, they think about front door locks.

Rekeying applies to windows and roller doors (such as garage doors).
It also applies to things like remote controls. Finally, the term applies to car keys, and to key cards. If you want to take it to an extreme, a key is a physical code. You change your computer codes, don’t you? If not, you should. Do the same for your home, your business and your car. It is better to do it more often than less. Keys and cards are not expensive.

What’s inside of what they grant access to is. In terms of business applications, you may be concerned that rekeying all the time is a hassle and you may lose track of all the different employees with different keys. There is a way of minimising rekeying every time a staff member leaves. To do this, put all the locks on a restricted keyway.

This helps in four ways.

  1. First, restricted keys can only be cut by the locksmith who has put the restricted system in place. No other locksmith can cut keys for the system or rekey the locks.
  2. Second, when you implement a restricted keyway system you must, then and there, decide on signatories. The signatory is you and whomever else you designate to authorize to cut a new key. You sign at the time the system is set up. This stops staff or non-authorized people from getting keys cut. No matching signature, no key.
  3.  The third benefit of a restricted keyway is how it is put together. It’s a very tight lock that is hard to pick. Also, it is almost impossible for anyone other than the person who created it to gain entry without a key. For the curious, here’s how taking one of these locks apart and rekeying it is done.

    Here’s the first part of the procedure, where your locksmith physically pulls the lock apart. The little bumps on the left hand side of the picture are pins and your locksmith replaces these to create a new key combination. In order to do this, he uses a new physical key.
    Rekeying One

    After the pins are realigned, the barrel is put back into the lock. Your locksmith tests the key that he used to realign the pins, and now you have a newly keyed lock and corresponding key.
    Rekeying 2

  4. The fourth benefit of restricted keying is fairly straightforward. With a restricted key system you can create a master key that allows access throughout a home or building and have other keys created that only allow entry to specific rooms or areas. Replacement keys are very expensive, so this may not be an ideal solution for commercial environments with high turnover rates. However, if a system that relies on electricity or battery backup is not appropriate, this is a great alternative.

 

Rekeying your home – General Information

A few years ago, a good friend of mine was robbed. Yes, another robber story, but hey, that’s what happens in the security business. He lived in a double- storey townhouse that was not too far from where I lived at the time. He was quite upset when he rang me and really needed to have his door secured straight away. He also needed the house rekeyed because his key ring had been stolen.

This might have been the most valuable thing the thieves had made away with because the burglar now had unlimited access to his car and his home. I drove as quickly as I could and arrived at my friend’s home to find out that all the cash, jewellery and items that even insurance cannot replace were all gone. Papers, silver, coins, everything – the place had been picked clean.

To be honest, my friend’s home had been an easy target. The back door had been easily jimmied. None of the doors had bolts and there was no alarm system. I got the badly damaged front door fixed up well enough that it could be bolted and spent a while rekeying the entire house. I asked if the car keys or remote were missing and though he assured me they were not, he did confess that his spare set of house keys were gone.

He kept them in a bowl in the kitchen! I held my breath, counted to ten and as calmly as I could told him in no uncertain terms that spare keys belong in a safe.
Safe

Shaking my head and mumbling a bit under my breath, I secured the home as best I could, rekeyed the locks and left him in the hands of the police. He was giving them his report and waiting for the insurance company to call as I walked out the door. The next morning I got a phone call from my very same mate. Breathless, he began, “You’re not going to believe it. Around 2.00 am while fast asleep,” (his bedroom is on the second floor at the rear of the house), “I heard the roller door go up. I got to the blinds and opened them and saw someone opening my car door and jump in.” He finished the story, saying that before he could get downstairs to his car it was gone.

Apparently, the previous day, the thieves had stolen the garage remote control and a spare set of car keys and he had not noticed, even though I had asked when he had confessed about the house keys.

But, there is a happy ending. My mate rang the police straight away to tell them what had happened and the burglar was caught driving my mate’s car early that same morning. They followed the not- smart-enough-burglar back to his house to find all my mate’s belongings, as well as lots of other stolen goods. Apparently, the thief had just been released from prison for similar crimes and seemed set on going right back in.

I certainly learned my lesson. When working with the victim of a burglary, give them what they need for future protection, not what they think they need. Check and recheck, no matter how annoyed the person you’re helping gets.

Overprotect. That’s a good lesson for you, too. More is sometimes more!

CCTV Closed Circuit Television

(CCTV) is a very popular and cost-effective way of adding security to your home.

Years ago it was only for the rich and famous, but today it is an affordable alternative that is available to the public. Yes, someone can put a mask over their face before they set out to rob you, but if a thief sees just one CCTV near your front door they’ll be wondering how many others there are. In other words, CCTVs are a great deterrent. Besides, there’s more to a thief than a face.

Of course, CCTVs also have the advantage that you can play back an incident to your heart’s content. Footage of an incident can be given to forensic experts. There’s almost always some identifiable aspect of a thief that will enable them to be caught, face obscured or not.

cctv

Additionally, details such as a view of the burglar’s car parked in view of your CCTV may literally help catch a thief.

CCTVs have other benefits as well. Let’s say you are a business owner and you’ve got a CCTV at the entrance to your office. A thief might just duck and think, okay, in I go. But, CCTVs come in all shapes and sizes. You can put them anywhere. There is no way anybody can see all of them. A professional can install them so that even if a break-in does occur, the odds of catching the perpetrator can be greatly increased.

You can also purchase CCTVs that film on the infrared spectrum, effectively spoiling night-time theft. Burglars are aware of this. Of course, watching as objects are removed will help when it comes time to deal with your insurance company. All in all, investing in CCTVs is an investment that will pay for itself. Speaking of insurance, many companies will offer you a discount if you have CCTVs installed.

On a more personal note, you can keep an eye on your little ones via CCTV to make sure they’re not getting into trouble. Let’s say you’re making supper and your one-year-old is playing in his or her room. You can keep one eye on your child from across the house, and that eye can be big because CCTV footage can be displayed on any size monitor, and even on your TV. You can also keep track on your phone or pretty much any mobile device.

Home Alarms – they scare burglars away

Sometimes people are just unlucky. They’ve got proper locks on their doors and windows, but they’ve just forgotten to turn that key and they’ve left a door unlocked. Or a particularly crafty burglar has come calling.

  • What can you do? You can have backup, and your backup might just save the day.
  • What backup should you have? You should have an alarm.
  • What will an alarm system do for you? It will help make sure that a burglar either doesn’t bother to step inside or that if he or she does, that he or she leaves quickly.

 I’ve heard it all before: “Alarms are a waste of money.” Oh no they’re not. I’ve also heard, “Yeah, I have one, but it’s not hooked up. Why bother?” Here’s why. Think about this: if a burglar does happen to get into your home or business, do you want him or her to be inside for a few minutes or a few hours? I’d prefer not at all, but I’d prefer seconds or minutes to hours.

Astonishing though it may seem, there have been instances where burglars have sat down, turned on the telly, helped themselves to some food and made themselves at home.

How can you prevent this? By installing an alarm system, making sure it is armed, loud, and hooked up to emergency services. The noise alone may drive the thieves away.

There are many different styles of alarms on the market. Some are hardwired; others are wireless. Some use alarm reed switches that activate when you open a door or window.

Here’s what a reed switch looks like.

Reed Switch

 

Panic switches can also be installed – the most popular place for these being the bedroom of a house.

Don’t be afraid to show people you have an alarm. Place stickers on windows and doors – as well as on front and back gates – of your home and business. Remember, the goal is to make your home unattractive for a burglar. Friends or family members won’t think any less of you for it.

Finally, alarms provide the ultimate in peace of mind. You can receive phone, text and/or email messages to verify your property is secure when you are away, and to alert you to any possible threats.

All alarms come as part of a monitoring package. This means that if the alarm system is breached, emergency personnel will automatically respond. First, a call will be made to your home or business. Even if you answer, you will be required to give a code to confirm all is well. If you do not give the right code, emergency workers will come to the scene.

Procedures for what to do if you are under attack are thoroughly reviewed when your alarm system is installed. If you are not at home or in the office, or do not answer the phone, emergency workers are sent to the property immediately. Your home or business will be checked for intruders. You will receive a report. The cost for this monitoring begins at about a dollar a day, and is highly recommended.

It is often also monitored by a security centre. On the left is what a typical alarm looks like. When you enter your home, you enter a code to tell the “system” that it’s you entering. At the right is an example of a sticker you might place where it can be easily seen identifying your home as one that is protected by proper security.

Security Pin Access

Up until now, we’ve been talking about alarms that go off when a door or window has been opened. In addition, there are alarms that can detect movement. This is done by adding motion sensors in various places throughout the home. These days you can even get pet friendly alarms that won’t activate when a cat or dog is walking around.

MOtion Senser

These are generally not recommended for large-breed dogs.

Most alarm systems include both door/ window alarms and motion sensors.

Talk to your accredited MLA locksmith about putting together an alarm system tailored to your specific needs.

Intercoms

IntercomsAn intercom is much more than what you may think it is. At their inception, intercoms were little more than two-way walkie- talkies wired through walls.

Today, intercoms offer video as well as audio. They are used in home and business applications and give you the ability to see who is at your door. The modern intercom has an internal camera and can take a picture. It is not a CCTV, though, so it does not keep a record that is “backed up” to a computer or a hard drive.

Many intercom systems will only take a picture when a buzzer is pressed. The photo will include a time and date stamp. So, even if you are not present, you will be able to find out who tried to gain access to a property by pressing the button at the entrance. This is quite beneficial if you live or work in a building and are victim of a break-in, as sometimes someone else “innocently” lets a burglar in. That burglar undoubtedly pressed the buzzer, someone let them in, and there will be a record of it.

Automated Protection Access Control

Access control is a way of letting people into your home or business without going to the door itself. One of the earliest applications worked a bit like a two-way doorbell. You pressed a buzzer outside a building or room. Someone else heard the buzzer, pressed a buzzer on the inside of that building or room and now you could open the door. This was initially done via hard wiring. Access control has come a long way since then. Now, it is often wireless. Computers can come into the picture, too.

We recommend not relying on something like a computer – at least not unless you’ve got proper battery backup installed. After all, you do want to be able to take advantage of access control even in case of a power failure.

While access control was once viewed as futuristic or only for business applications, it is becoming increasingly popular in the home environment. It is now found in apartment blocks and can work in conjunction with magnetic and electric locks.

In addition to the system described above, homes – as well as businesses – can now use proximity cards, which are commonly called proxy cards.

This is a picture of a proxy card access.

Security Access

You may be familiar with these in office applications or if you’ve been to a hotel recently. They work by giving the person who needs to gain entrance to an area a card that they swipe.

Notice that the picture above also has what is commonly referred to as a pin pad. The rows of numbers can also allow someone to gain access to an area. They simply enter in a code they have been provided.

The added benefit of these is that the cards, and the codes, can be personalised. You can actually “program” the access that the person holding the card – or given the pin code – has access to. This may be limited to just the entrance to a building, or include a specific room, storage facility or more “secure area.” In addition, you don’t have to rekey your entire building if a proxy card is lost or an employee (for whatever reason) is no longer working for your company.

Because you assign a code to each card, or to each employee, auxiliary staff members and subcontractors (such as cleaning personnel) can gain access to your home or business and you will know exactly where they are and when. This provides peace of mind. If for some reason an employee or contractor loses their card and it is picked up by someone else who uses it, you will know – presuming you are informed of the loss.

Technology for these key cards and pin pads is so advanced that you can even use them to open and close doors from remote locations. You can lock an employee out of a building at a second’s notice. Just make sure that only you and perhaps one other trusted friend or co-worker or attorney has access to the master list of codes for access to all areas of your home or office, and keep a copy in a safe.

Window Grills and Shutters – securing your home

Window grills are becoming more and more popular for residential use. They have been present on commercial businesses for years, but they are now available in attractive designs that go way beyond the old standard square block tubing of yesteryear. Grills are now handmade in modern and federation styles and designed in different colours and designs to suit any home or business. They no longer look like prison grates and provide a luxuriant touch of added security. Even if a burglar can break through a window, they won’t be able to squeeze through a window grill to gain entry to your home or business.

Window grills can be mounted on the inside of the window frame or over the top of the window frame. They can be fixed to the exterior in a concealed manner, making them pretty much impossible to remove. In addition, they are usually secured with one-way screws or security fixings that very few have the tools to remove. A burglar would have to spend hours and make quite a mess to remove the grill. Between the noise and the amount of time it would take, he or she would get caught. Burglars know this, and any house equipped with a proper grill is one that a thief would avoid.

Here’s an example of a window grill:

Window Grill

Window shutters are also an effective method of keeping burglars away. Some can be opened or closed via remote control; others are affixed to your home like grills are. Here’s an example of a properly-installed home shutter.

Window Shutter

Window shutters will be more visible from within the home, when closed, than window grills, but do the same job and are available in many designs and colours.

These commercial window shutters (below) would be more appropriate for a business or industrial setting: Commercial window shutters are popular in business applications and can sometimes be retrofitted. This is especially beneficial for storefronts that are often susceptible to burglaries because consumers demand large expanses of glass so that they can see what a retailer has to offer.

Windows – the easy way into your home

Okay, you’ve got your doors nice and secure. Nobody will break into your home now, right?

Wrong.

Case in point. I was called in to secure a home that had been broken into. When I arrived at the inner city residence, the homeowners were obviously upset. The house had been turned upside down. The burglars had gotten away with two plasma televisions, jewellery, cash, computers – just about everything valuable.

When I surveyed how the perpetrators had gained entry, I saw that the front door was wide open, yet it had not been smashed. It was quite obvious to me why this particular house had been targeted. Unlike neighbouring homes, it had no alarm installed, and no gates along its perimeter. The burglars had just walked down to the side of the house and smashed a window to get inside. Yes, there were deadlbolts installed on all the doors, but the keys had been left in the lock on the back of a side door. To compound the error, all the locks in the house could be opened with one key. Smart burglars – they took the key out of the side door and opened the deadbolt to the front door and walked right out of the house. No problem getting those large TVs out.

Solution
All windows in a house and business need to be locked. There are many different window styles, and each has a proper corresponding lock. Windows can be made of wood or aluminium. They can be sliding, sash or awning. Here are examples of what these look like with their preinstalled locks.

Awning window with proper lock:

Awning window with lock

Sash window with proper lock:

Sash window with lock

Sliding window with proper lock:

Sliding window with lock

These preinstalled locks may not be sufficient.

We recommend that a secondary lock be installed. Remember, windows are obviously a very easy point of entry for burglars because they are made of glass. Therefore, these must be key locked at all times. In addition to locks, there are other measures you can take to secure your windows. Once you have secured proper locks, you are ready to look into these.

Deadlatches and Deadbolts

Did you know that most insurance companies now require that you put one of these on all doors and windows in order to receive full insurance coverage?

This is a deadlatch:
There is a difference between a deadlatch and a deadbolt. Simply stated, a deadlatch locks automatically when you close the door. You can insert a key in on either side of the door.

deadlatch

A deadbolt, on the other hand, must be locked using a key. It’s great if you already have a knob set.

This is a deadbolt:

Deadbolt

All houses or businesses have some kind of lock on them, but many new or old styles of houses and businesses don’t have the right locks for providing optimum security. Deadbolts and deadlatches can help here, but they have an added bonus. Let’s say someone breaks in through a window. They’re going to have real trouble escaping with anything of significant size if they can’t exit through a door. A door with a deadlock or deadlatched door is much tougher to get through than one without.

A couple of warnings are in order, however, about the deadlock.

  • First of all, don’t leave the key in it when you leave. If you do, it will be much easier for someone to get out of your home or apartment.
  • Also, some people deadbolt their houses at night to make themselves feel more secure. If you do this, leave the key in the lock, or nearby, but only when you are home. There was a case in Queensland where a family tragically lost their lives when their house caught fire because they couldn’t get the door open – the keys to the deadbolt weren’t near the door. So, be careful.

There are many different types of deadlatches on the market. When you open one from the outside, most are equipped to automatically “unlock” completely so that you do not lock yourself into your home. There are now digital and fingerprint locks that can be purchased for residences. An MLA locksmith can help you choose one. These might be fine solutions. Just make sure that every member of your household, and perhaps your solicitor and a VERY trusted friend, is given the ability to enter your home in case of emergency. Don’t worry about emergency personnel. They are equipped with necessary override procedures.

Finally, realise that if you live in a rental property, you probably cannot have a deadbolt of any kind due to fire restrictions, but you can find out all the dos and don’ts from a qualified locksmith. Also, speak with your landlord or the governing body in your state to find about safety measures and ways to protect the valuables within your apartment.

Also, be aware that deadbolts are not permitted in most commercial buildings. You will need to contact local authorities about this, and you should reassess annually as regulations can change. Self- closing doors with levers that can be opened in a single downward motion may be required. This is mostly necessary to make it easy to exit a building in case of fire or other emergency.

However, CCTV, window grills, monitored alarms, lock blocker plates, and restricted keyways will help provide security in apartments and commercial buildings, and there are sections about these later in the book. In addition, technology changes rapidly, so keep up to date online. Enter the following into your search engine of choice: “new locks”, “lock brands”, “MLA”, “accredited MLA”, and “master locksmith association of Australia” for additional information.

Patio Bolts
If you decide to install patio doors at any entrance to your home, you should also install bolts specifically made for this kind of door. The ones that come with the door and are pre-installed are referred to as flush bolts and are cut into the door itself. These are not as strong as surfaced style patio bolts, but are good as secondary locks. Proper patio bolts can also be retrofit into French doors and are an excellent addition to your overall security plan. Here is what one looks like:

Patio Bolt

Flush bolts are a little less obtrusive and modern looking than patio bolts. They can be used in a wider variety of doors, including patio doors to strengthen security.

Flush Bolt

They can also be pre-installed into a door before it is hung.

Bi-Fold Doors
Bi-fold doors are currently quite popular. They are not typically found at the front of a home, so you might think that securing them is no big deal. This is not at all true. A sly burglar might view the back of the home as a great place to enter, sight unseen. To make matters worse, bi-fold doors are not solid; they have a fold in them. In other words, they have a natural weakness. While they tend to make the outside of the home feel a little more like the inside, and in a way extend the home’s living area, they can be very difficult to secure properly. Therefore, you need a good alarm system if you are going to use these.

Also, you should have them secured with patio bolts.

We’ve pretty much covered the most common types of door that you would want to use on your home or business. Of course, there are others – but most are for show, not for security. If you are considering something that you have not seen, be sure to consult with an accredited MLA locksmith before finalising your choice.