Campbellfield “burglary” – maybe an inside job?

We got a call out last week to Campbellfield – the caller was a little concerned we did not cover this area as it wasn’t on our list of suburbs.  Well.. it is now, and yes we do cover it.  Apart from having locksmiths on standby at our inner city and Northcote bases, we have a several mobile vans that are invariably criss crossing the city, able to get to any suburb quickly.

Before I detail this lockout I have to say?  The modern GPS is a wonderful tool.  During peak hour, if you go the wrong way in Melbourne even travelling 5klm can take 30 minutes… so having a GPS that is up to date with traffic data?  It’s a wonderful thing.

OK this week in Campbellfield our distressed home owner customer rang us to advise she believed someone was accessing her house.  She couldn’t say for sure that is was happening… but it appeared small amounts of money were going missing from the house whilst she was at work and the kids were at school. It’s not our place to make judgments on what is happening only to help the client secure their property.  In this case the home owner was a working mother with two teenage kids who would invariably beat her home each afternoon.  It would have been easy to assume the source of the missing change was the boys looking for ice cream money and that changing locks would make no difference.

I didn’t offer up this suggestion which would have been tantamount to accusing her kids of stealing, but I did ask why she thought a robber was going to all this trouble and taking such a risk just to steal small change?  She replied that she trusted her kids, knew they would never steal from the household funds…but she thought a former cleaner who she’d had a dispute with was doing a bit of “get even” stealing… and was trying to do it in a way that she could keep doing it for a long time.

I suggested cctv cameras… but Mr 15 jumped in and said he would just set up the computer in the lounge room to record anyone entering the house using the webcam.  Not a bad idea I thought… as long as the thief doesn’t steal the computer…

My client in the end went for rekeying all locks, a single key to fit them all, back and front doors and that was that. 

I got a call from Mr 15 a few days later saying someone had come to the back door, tried a key which didn’t work… but that the webcam had not picked up who it was.  I said I doubted they’d be back, they likely knew the game was up but maybe his mum should consider that CCTV system after all unless he wanted to set up his webcam outside?  

Many break-ins don’t involve a smashed window or door… the thief is able to gain access via a key that they had from a previous position of a cleaner, former home resident, staff member etc, Some people get robbed after losing their wallet or purse containing their address details… with a spare key kept inside.  It hurts to lose a purse or wallet.  Even if you had no cash in it, you will be up for bundles replacing cards, phones, makeup, even passports… but even as you feel the sting of replacing these items your first call should be to us to rekey your locks.  If someone was dishonest enough to steal your wallet or purse, they are dishonest enough to use your keys to steal from your home. 

Don’t worry that your credit and bank cards are gone and you can’t pay us on the spot – we will do the job immediately and bill you, you can sort out payment once your cards arrive, or via a direct debit.

Box Hill Criminal Investigation Unit

Due to the large amount of burglaries and car thefts in the Box Hill (Whitehorse) area, a new policing unit has been created to target repeat offenders. So far the unit has made 12 arrests in just two weeks such as a Mt Waverley youth who was doing burnouts in the Burwood area. 

It’s great that they’ve had such a huge impact in such little time. You can read more about it here. We still suggest people in that area contact a locksmith or security expert to ensure that your home is as secure as possible. If you live around Box Hill or anywhere around Melbourne do not hesitate to call Toplock Locksmiths for all your home security needs. 

Locked out of a VW in Fitzroy – A too clever car

Most people in Australia when they think of the humble VW, picture a noisy, air cooled van which hippies used to drive around in…. or a beetle… either the vintage or modern variety.  But more commonly in Australia, VW’s more commonly come in two varieties, the Passat and the Golf. Both are pretty nice cars, though a bit expensive as they are made in Germany as opposed to Asia, so production costs are higher, as are transport costs.

We got a call out to a Car lockout in Fitzroy where a young lady who had recently bought a 2nd hand VW golf, pulled into her driveway after doing some shopping, got out to check the mail box, walked back to the car, picked up some shopping from the front passenger seat, somehow in the middle of this she dropped her keys on the passenger seat…. She walked to the front door, realized she had no keys and then came back to find her car doors locked, keys inside.

This is a problem we see often, it goes like this.

  1. Many European cars have sensors in the doors and an onboard computer.
  2. When you unlock the door, then open it, and re-close it… the on-board computer understands all this, and realizes you have probably unlocked the car, got onside, and are now happily driving away.

But here’s the problem.

  1. If you have a broken door sensor, then your on-board computer may not get the message.  So it doesn’t realize the door has been opened.  So when the young lady in this case got out of her car, removed the keys from the ignition shut the doors and then opened and closed the passenger side?  The computer got confused, thought she was now outside the car (she was) had unlocked the car from the outside (she hadn’t – the car had been left unlocked) and had not got in, thus her car needed to be re-locked to secure it.

Pretty much a case of some car engineering person getting too clever for their own good.

We arrived on the scene in 20 minutes, and had their car open in 2 more.  We showed the young lady the problem and advised her to take the car to an auto electrician who specialized in European cars to get the door sensor fixed.  We were able to quickly confirm it was a door sensor failure, as the interior light on the driver’s side always stayed on.  It wasn’t noticed at first by our new customer, as she drove mainly during the day and it was not obviously on, and in any case, it was usually obscured by the sun visa.

Anyway, our Fitzroy VW owner was ecstatic to not only have her car unlocked without needing a new key (they cost hundreds these days) but to also have someone explain the problem and the solution.

So if you have a European car that is locking itself when it really shouldn’t be?  Check to see if any interior lights are staying on when they should not be, and if so, you need to get your door sensors replaced.

Locked in the Toilet in Carlton

Not only do we get callouts for people locked out of their house, we get callouts for people locked IN their house.  Our most common callout is for a child who has managed to lock themselves in the toilet, and can’t work out how to unlock it.  Normally there is panic on both sides of the door, and the child is either too young or too frantic to listen to instructions.

Recently we had one such call in Carlton.

We got the call around 2pm, Mr 2 had locked himself in the toilet, and could not get out.  Apparently the young chap was insistent on using the big toilet, not the potty, and he likewise insisted on his privacy.  You go young fellah.  Problem was, his folks had just done a reno, and the locking mechanism for the toilet door had been changed from one where you slide it from left to right / right to left… to one where you twisted the lock mechanism clockwise or anticlockwise.

The poor little guy, was trying to slide the lock, and couldn’t work out he needed to twist it, not slide it. Mum rings us frantic, little man is almost hysterical and she has to leave to pick up big brothers and sister from school in 30 minutes.  We needed to get there fast, and get in faster.

To the uninitiated, a toilet door locked from the inside where the person inside cannot open it seems an impossible task.  There is no key on the outside in most cases… so how to unlock such a door?  Some doors are set with hinges on the outside, so you can simply lift the door off the hinges  and your solution is found.  In this case, the hinges were on the inside(note to self, find out who the guys were who did that… it’s really not a great way to do it.  If someone injures themselves in the toilet, you really want to be able to get access fast…) so they were no help, next we turned to the lock.

Now most bathroom and toilet door locks are in place to ensure privacy, not security, so whilst there is no key on the outside, there is often a small hole, or mechanism that can be accessed with a tiny screwdriver, that will release the lock. This lock had one, but it was faulty.  We had tried to talk mum through it and had thought she was just too panicked to make it happen, but in fact the lock itself was no good.  We were however, able to dismantle the lock from the outside and get the little guy out in about 3 minutes.

We came back the next day, and fitted better privacy locks and we even stayed for a few minutes to show Mr 2. How to work them.  I took a couple of the office stamps with me, and gave him some stamps on his hands as a reward for his good learning.

We left behind, a very pleased mum, and even more please Mr 2.

My advice if you have young kids, that you really show them how to use the bathroom locks, and you checkout your bathroom and toilet locks so you can see how they can be opened in an emergency.  If your toilet door hinges are not on the outside, with the door opening outwards… consider sorting this.  If someone passes out in the toilet and falls against a locked toilet door?  A locksmith will be able to get the door unlocked, but with the person lying prone against it, opening it might be another matter. 

Carlton Locksmith

Late night lockout in Carlton, Commando Style

When we are called to a lockout all our locksmiths know that they are very likely to find a distressed person who is in quite a state.  The lockout may have resulted in the person being late for an appointment, groceries that needed to be in the freezer may well be melting in a locked car or someone very tired or otherwise in immediate need of their bed/toilet/shower will be standing there distressed they couldn’t make their intended immediate entry to their home.  Our guys are pros and they know how to make these distressing situations more bearable.

But we are human and there are sometimes when all the training in the world does not prepare you for certain callouts.

Late one night last week we received a call from a guy who had locked himself out of his home.  He was polite and well-spoken and reasonably calm. He gave his address described his house and we told him we would be there in a few minutes.  He then went on to explain he was naked except for a grey blanket.  The problem was he was a sleepwalker who prefer to sleep commando and this evening he had  woken up to find himself nude, and walking down his street.  Luckily, it was a quiet street in Carlton and after 2.30 in the morning so he had not yet been seen .

He had rung the police to explain his situation and whilst they were sympathetic and provided him with the blanket they explained they didn’t have the authority to do anything more than advise him to call a locksmith and provided him with a five dollar phone card in order to contact us.

I decided this was a call that I had to attend to personally due to the delicate nature of the callout and the potential that this was in fact some kind of scam.  I arrived at the home and parked a few houses down so I could walk from my van to the man and make a spot decision as to what really was going on.  Sure enough there was a man who appeared to be wearing nothing more than a small grey blanket.  It was impossible to prevent a small nervous grin from appearing but apart from that I think I was very professional, explaining to the gentleman that I could help him get inside his home but he would need to provide evidence that he was the homeowner as letting A naked man into a house in the middle of the night had all sorts of implications.

He was very understanding and handed over the card from the police with the officer’s name and details on who had come to his rescue and he confirmed he was indeed the owner of the house and could certainly provide me with evidence of this once he had gained access to the house.  I called the police officer’s  phone who confirmed yes it did appear to all legit and so I opened the front door.

As it turned out true to his word this was the man’s house and he presented me with both his driver’s licence and a medical report confirming he was a sleepwalker. I didn’t ask why someone suffering from such a condition slept commando but suggested in light of his condition he consider installing either a pin entry access to one of his doors or even his whole house or otherwise let me install a key safe somewhere discreetly outside where he could safely store a key.(A key safe ensures your insurance is not null and void which can happen if you simply stash a key under a mat or a pot plant)

The next week he went with the key safe option and I suspect everything is now well.

Carlton Locksmith

Locked out three times in 2 days in Carlton

The vast technological gap that exists between South Korea and Australia led to a funny series of lockout recoveries performed by us for a newly arrived Carlton resident from South Korea. Apparently for many people in South Korea keys are simply not part of their life with entry into homes, cars and work all being done by swipe card or a combination of swipe card and pin number. Keys? What are they?

We got a booking early one Friday evening through our iPhone app.  I rang back to confirm a few details that I struggled to understand the young guy on the end of the line as he spoke with a very thick accent.  I did manage to confirm his full address and that yes he did need a locksmith and we scrambled a van to his apartment.  We arrived within 20 minutes, we had no trouble finding the place as he was out the front waving madly at us.

This in itself caused a minor problem that he was now outside the apartment which required a pin number to enter the foyer and our new customer had not yet memorised his pin number. Not to worry… We buzzed a few apartments to we found someone home, confirmed we were top lock locksmiths by holding our photo ID up to the camera and explaining we were rescuing one of their neighbours.

After accessing the building we made our way to our new customers second floor apartment and having back inside in only a couple of minutes. In his broken English he was able to explain he was not used to having keys as back in South Korea he accessed his apartment via a pin number both into the building and the apartment . It was able to prove he was the resident of the apartment, we handed him the bill and were on our way.

Two hours later we got a second booking by our iPhone app for the same customer. I rang him back thinking perhaps there was a bug in the app but no, sure enough he was locked out again.  He popped out to the supermarket to get few things and had forgotten his keys we boast the same neighbour to get into the building who was dubious at first and this time came to the front door to physically inspect our credentials and then shortly after left rather amused at the poor fellows second mistake. Of course it’s not in our interests to make light of the misfortune of one of our customers so we quickly going back inside, and stressed the importance of taking your keys with you when you leave the apartment. We even fixed a hook on the front door for him to leave his keys on.  After much embarrassed thanks we again left the apartment.

Will guess what the very next day and new best ever customer from Carlton summoned us once more. Three times in 16 hours he had forgotten his keys.  We didn’t charge him this time because it just seemed unfair and this time when we left we gave him a bright red key strap that would allow him to wear is keys around his neck  and we advised him to wear it at all times whilst he was home.

It’s been a while now and we haven’t received another call from him so either he is diligently wearing his key strap or he has reprogrammed his brain to remember that when the leaves his apartment to always take his keys with him. 

Carlton Locksmith

Sleeping Beauty Locked out in Carlton

Without a doubt our busiest night is Friday night.  So many people venture out on the town for adventure in Melbourne on Friday night that ends in a lost key calamity. Of course the main ingredient in these cases is alcohol.  Whether it is dropping keys down the drain whilst fumbling them out of pocket, leaving them behind who knows where or in some cases simply not taking them out your flatmate would be home only to discover said flatmate is having their own Friday night adventure. Whatever the reason we know from experience to make sure we are well staffed Friday nights.

Our locksmiths are all well trained, industry accredited, are all subjected to criminal history checks and must pass the Toplock always polite and helpful test.  As locksmiths working the late shift almost anything can and does happen.  And one Friday night in Carlton everything happened.

With received a call at 3.30 in the a.m. on Saturday morning from a very inebriated young lady in Carlton who had locked herself out of her apartment. She was desperate for us to make a speedy arrival because she was busting to go to the toilet.  One of our vans race to the scene only to find our potential client was now asleep… Or perhaps she would be better described as being unconscious on the front doorstep.  There was evidence that she had remedied her earlier emergency in the driveway… but now we were left with a new dilemma.

Our potential new client was proving very difficult to awaken.  Without her instructions that this indeed was her house we couldn’t begin to arrange an entry. Even if we had been able to legally enter the premises we were left with the moral dilemma of leaving someone so inebriated to their own devices. It certainly wasn’t an option to simply leave her on her front porch which was very visible from the street.

We made a call to the boys in blue who were on the scene pretty fast.  Whilst they were not overly impressed with the callout it was not the first time they’d been called out to such a scene. They tried for a few moments to awaken the young lady and were just about to call for an ambulance when she opened her eyes and started mumbling about why were the police pulling her over for a breath test when all she was doing was sleeping on front porch.  She lay back down and tried to go back to sleep.

When she realised there were two big coppers, a locksmith and also a small crowd watching her she regained a small amount of sobriety quick smart, was able to produce ID showing she was the resident … we unlocked the front door and flopped on the couch, face down.  Our guy said his goodbyes to an already snoring customer and locked the door on his way out.

It is one of those situations that looking back we can laugh at but at the time it was very serious.  We are locksmiths not paramedics yet we had a duty of care to this customer to ensure her safety.

A couple of days later we received a phone call from the young lass questioning our invoice.  She had completely failed to remember that she contacted us and that we had let her inside.  Luckily at the time the locksmith on duty realised her  drunken signature might not withstand her scrutiny in the cold sober light of day if the invoice was ever questioned so he took a couple of selfies of him entering the property and got cards from the police officers to verify that he had done the work.

In the end she went from pretty annoyed that some locksmith was sending her a bill for work not done…. too grateful that we had calmly and diligently sorted her out of her predicament when she was in no state to do so herself.

Once again TopLock saves the day

Carlton Locksmith

Beware of Locksmith Scammers

Locksmith scams are more of an issue in America, but it doesn’t mean Australians shouldn’t be careful too. 

Some of these scams include:

• Significantly overcharging customers
• Charging for unnecessary services. All good Locksmiths will charge a call out fee, which covers travel and the wages for the worker, if they do not charge a call out fee, they will make you pay for it in other ways (eg. Over charge you for parts or change entire locks rather than rekeying or destroying locks and replacing them rather than correctly unlocking them).
• Failing to give refunds for bad work or responding to customer complaints.
• Using the internet to impersonate other companies.
• Insisting that cash is the only payment option.

The best way to make sure a Locksmith is legitimate:

• When you call a locksmith on the phone, make sure they answer with their company name instead of giving a generic response in case they are impersonating another company and have multiple numbers redirecting to them. It has been reported in America that scammers have posted ads impersonating reputable companies with their own phone number listed instead. 
• Make sure they list a real physical location for their head office on their site (not a PO box or a fake address).
• They should probably arrive in a well presented uniform with a branded van.
• Check to see if the company is a member of the Master Locksmith Association.

Our company TopLock Locksmiths in Melbourne, Australia strive to give our customers the best possible experience from your first point of contact with our phone being answered in our Northcote head office by our experienced Service Manager during business hours and qualified staff with any after hours calls that are made. All of our Locksmiths wear full uniforms and drive distinctive branded vehicles.

Our Locksmiths also accept multiple payment methods Eftpos, credit card, direct bank deposit , cash or cheque (only if you are an existing account holder with us).

Tradies keep your vehicles secured!

If you are a trade person, there’s a good chance you keep your tools in your van, station wagon or ute. You probably even have some kind of branding on your vehicle that advertises your trade on it, this could make you a target for thieves.

Here’s a list of ideas to help prevent getting your tools stolen:

  • Park in a garage or somewhere away from street view to prevent the vehicle from being noticed.
  • Have locks installed on all your canopies and doors on the vehicle. A canopy can be installed onto most ute’s and is a good way to secure your tools. You may want to get one with without windows so no one can look in and see your valuables.
  • Have a locked box installed and  secured inside your vehicle so that if anyone does break in, the expensive tools are still difficult to find or remove.
  • Alarm with sensors in the windows should be installed, windows are an easy entry point for car break-ins.

The money spent on securing your vehicle and its contents is worth the investment  because as any Tradie knows, your tools are not only expensive, but the time lost in getting your car fixed, replacing the tools and possibly saving up money to replace them will eat into your regular work time and could be a financial disaster for you. 

Our work in Melbourne’s High Density Areas

The most popular areas for our Locksmith services are high density areas such as Carlton, Preston, Flemington, St Kilda, Melbourne CBD , Toorak and South Yarra. These areas have far more people in them for their size compared to physically larger areas due to all the apartment buildings in those suburbs.

Apartments are very popular rental properties so landlords and real estate agents are always hiring locksmiths to come and rekey the locks whenever a new tenant moves in. Many apartment buildings (as well as office buildings) will use a restricted key system, which are made by a particular locksmith and can only be duplicated by them. The locksmith will keep a copy of each key on file and only that locksmith is allowed to duplicate them with approval of the signatory who issued the installation. This means that there is little risk of someone breaking into a property they had previously rented.

Locksmiths are not allowed to cut a restricted key that has been made by another locksmith, the signatory who issued the key is the only person allowed to request a new key to be made. 

Restricted keys are one of the many services provided by TopLock Locksmiths, if you manage properties in a high density area near Melbourne such as CarltonPreston or the others mentioned earlier, please contact us! 1300 679 979.