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Vehicle Theft

Posted on by TopLocksmith in Auto Locksmith

Vehicle TheftCar Theft Decline Due to Security Technology Advancements

There has been a slow and gradual lowering of automobile theft in recent years. 10 years ago, many people were losing their homes and desperate to turn to automobile theft to make ends meet. However, in the last few years, the job market has recovered, and the crime rate has lowered, and has been staying low. Another reason for car theft gradual decline is the increase in technological prowess. New smart car technology acts as a strong deterrent for thieves, in turn causing a continual decline in automobile theft. But car thieves aren’t yet finished with their dastardly trade.

 

New Vehicle Theft Threats

Tailgate vehicle theft has risen from around 400 7 years ago to almost 2000 since 2015. Officials estimate that the number is actually higher, but many people don’t want to report it at all. It will only take 30 seconds for a thief to take a tailgate off a car – a simple operation that utilizes basic tools. The thief can then make a severe killing selling off the electronics and scrap metal they receive through this theft. This can lead to large losses for truck owners. For example, those who own a 2016 Ford F260 King Ranch pickup truck will have to spend over 3000 dollars to replace a tailgate.

 

Keep Watch Over your Car Parts

You can secure your tailgates by locking them securely and parking with the tailgate backed up against a wall or another surface. Even if you don’t have a truck, you’re at risk for a specialized automobile part theft, as over 75,000 airbags get stolen from vehicles every year – and since airbags are much easier to steal than the entire car, it’s not surprising that most thieves these days don’t aim to steal the entire vehicle – just small parts of it that can fetch for good money on the illicit market. Other items that are commonly stolen are GPS devices and full systems, sound systems and stereos, car television sets, cell phones, electronic devices, third row seats, tires, and rims.

 

How to avoid having belongings stolen

  • Always secure your car using your key fob when you walk away from it – this will also help you remember to always have your keys on you, preventing the possibility of a lockout.
  • Keep your valuables hidden. Don’t display valuables in your ar windows, and don’t leave your keys out either.
  • Leave your car parked in well lit locations at night. If you ever see somebody in a parking lot checking up on random car doors, don’t park in that lot, and report the suspicious activity. Don’t assume that the person attempting to pick the car door is a locksmith.
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Spring Security

Posted on by TopLocksmith in Security Tips

Now that spring is finally in the air, we couldn’t be more excited to celebrate the warm weather. Everyone is eager to make their outdoor plans, with beach weather looming on the horizon. You might be noticing an increase in walking street traffic, or just people hanging outdoors, pumped up to revitalize their daily lifestyles after a cold winter. We can all agree that warm weather is fantastic. However, it can also come with a range of serious security concerns. If you want to keep your residential or commercial property safe during warm weather, it’s essential that you practice good security tactics. A talented residential and commercial locksmith can help ensure that your home remains safe, utilizing some of the below tactics.

 

Spring Cleaning Security Concerns

Spring cleaning is a universal practice where people start to spruce up and revitalize their spaces once the weather starts to heat up. It’s a fantastic practice because not only does it make you feel good in the moment, but it has a whole slew of practical long term benefits. However, there are a number of serious security concerns related to spring cleaning – as the process usually involves the moving of belongings inside and out of your home or businesses, potentially providing a temptation to passing criminals. This is absolutely a risk that should be addressed, even if it sounds overcautious. If you’re trying to keep your home or business secure during your spring cleaning, you might want to follow the below tips:

  • Don’t leave any items alone on the curb without anybody guarding them
  • Place all old or precious items into black plastic garbage bags to mitigate the temptation they might pose to passing criminals
  • Bring older items that you want to dispose of to local charities
  • Don’t put brand new purchase boxes on the curb where people can easily see them

 

General Post Winter Security Upkeep

Locks are vulnerable to general deterioration due to weather. Locks freezing during the winter can cause them to not be as dependable or useable that they were previously. This can pose major security concerns to you and your property. If you’re at all concerned that your locks suffered damage during the previous winter, you should contact the experts at Top Locksmith, who can provide you with the highest quality in lock repair service, or replace locks that are beyond useable with a brand new functional one. Contact us directly to set up an appointment – we recommend doing so during the month of April, before the warm weather really ramps up, and before the burglaries increase as more and more people pass your property on the street – or even leave their property on Spring and Summer breaks.

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Replacing Car Door Locks Cylinders

Posted on by TopLocksmith in Auto Locksmith

Replacing car door lock cylindersThere’s myriad potential reasons for the replacement of a car door lock cylinder. It’s important to understand all the details of troubleshooting these sort of issues. Here’s Top Locksmith’s guide to car door lock cylinders.

 

What are car door lock cylinders?

Plainly speaking, simply, the cylinder of the lock inside your car door. They are like any other lock cylinder, being a metal tube that keys can be inserted into, turned, which matches up the latches allowing a car door to be unlocked. This is different than an ignition cylinder, even if they both use the same key and are keyed according to the same slider or wafer patterns (although many new cars don’t use ignition keys – but still use car door lock cylinders.)

 

How to know you need a car door lock cylinder replacement

Your key refuses to turn

If your key is not turning in your car’s lock, troubleshoot the issue to determine if the car door lock cylinder needs to be replaced. First, try a spare car key. If it doesn’t work in the lock, it’s likely the lock cylinder needs to be replaced. Also, test the original key in other door locks, as well as the trunk, or in the ignition (if it has a lock slot.) If they work in those cylinders, you will likely need to replace the cylinder of the main entrance door. If it doesn’t work for any of the cylinders it’s likely a problem with the key itself.

 

If you recently replaced your ignition cylinder

Car door lock cylinders should match ignition cylinders – as it’s much easier to access your car this way, and saves lots of time. Trust us, it’s simply  impractical and foolish to use two separate keys to work your car doors and it’s ignition.

 

Car Keys were Lost

If your car keys were lost, it’s smart to replace the car door lock cylinder, as it reduces the chances of your car being stolen greatly. However, this is based on exactly HOW you lost your keys. If your keys accidentally fell off a boat into the ocean, there’s little chances of a scuba-diving burglar happening to spot them and track them to your car. However, if they mysteriously disappeared from your workdesk, it’s smart to change the lock cylinder, just so you can feel safe and secure in the fact that only you will have access to your automobile.

 

If the car keys or the lock cylinder hasn’t been working well

Before car lock cylinders completely break beyond functionality, they often show gradually increasing signs of malfunctioning. This can appear as giving you issues when rotating the key, including sticking, or the all-four-door locking functionality not working correctly. If you need to wiggle the key inside the lock in order to lock or unlock the door, or remove the key at all – as well as if you experience any types of partial locking or unlocking – you will likely be best served by replacing your car lock cylinders. It’s best to tackle these issues in advance as they show up, rather than waiting for the lock cylinder to break completely – potentially leaving you stuck in a lockout, which can be a situation ranging from annoying to potentially disastrous. If you experience any of these issues, contact a trustworthy locksmith, like those at Top, as soon as possible.

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Comparing Smart and Traditional Locks

Posted on by TopLocksmith in Locks

Technology has shaken the lock and security industry up quite a bit in recent years, with major advancements made to lock technology that has remained stable for centuries – and technically, millenia. In this blog entry, the experts at Top Locksmith will help provide our readers some detail as to the major differences between traditional locks and smart locks, with a highlighted emphasis on the advantages and disadvantages of them both.

 

Traditional Locks

Traditional locks come in a wide variety of constructions. Basically, the term refers to all locks that don’t operate automatically, and need to be manually controlled in order to lock. These locks, today, often include deadbolt locks, knob locks, and mortise locks. They are often activated by turning a key, twisting a thumbturn, or pressing a button – and deactivated with similar manual gestures.

 

How Traditional Locks Work

Most of these locks are operated with keys, that activate the locking technology, locking or unlocking the entire thing. These include pin tumbler locks, rim locks, and mortise locks. For example, pin tumbler locks are some of the most common locks used in normal homes. It works with a collection of springed pins that are placed inside cylinders. The cylinders have a series of both key pins and driver pins. When the matching key is placed inside it, the key pins are raised, moving the driver pins up, and alighting them at the shear line – allowing the key to turn to lock or unlock the door. The wrong key will misalign the pins, preventing the lock from being able to be opened.

 

Security of Traditional Locks

This varies! Some traditional locks are secure, and some are really not. Deadbolts, for example, of the single or double cylinder varieties, are known as being very secure – but only when used correctly. Deadbolts are graded by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) on a scale of 1-3, with Grade 1 being the strongest.

 

There’s many ways to improve the existing security of a traditional lock by adding on enhancements like solid metal striking plates, or extending the deadbolt throws or screws. Many locks can resist forced entry attempts like lock bumping or picking. However, a lock is only as strong as it is properly installed. You need to make sure that the frame is secure, and that the lock is firmly and perfectly installed to make the most of it.

 

Smart Locks

Smart locks are automated traditional locks, at least in their most simple varieties. They allow for lock mechanism to be activated electronically and sometimes at a remote distance. They have a different human-interface process than non electronic traditional locks. Smart locks, as opposed to non smart electronic locks, can usually be operated via an app or program on a smartphone, as well as have cross-operation with other kinds of smart devices. Smart locks keep a usage record of their access history, and provide much more practical comfort than traditional locks, as they eliminate the need to search for keys. However, they may not be as secure, as their manufacturers place an emphasis on convenience, rather than plainly security – but this isn’t ALWAYS the case.

 

How Smart Locks work

Smart locks require the receipt of a cryptographic key code in order to lock or unlock. The keys for operating smart locks can come in many forms. Some are special key fobs that are automatically sensed when they are in proximity of the lock. Some are controlled through software on one’s phone. Smart locks can be integrated with other smart home security devices to only operate in turn with a series of authentication processes with other devices.

 

Smart Lock Security

Smart locks do offer the security benefit of remote monitoring and tracking of the lock usage, as well as the option to lock your doors even while you are away. However, they do not often change the manual construction of traditional locks, so they aren’t making any major physical improvements to security. Most smart locks work with deadbolts, meaning yes, they are way more secure than a simple Euro cylinder lock, however sometimes this means that they have limited options for interface – meaning that sometimes they can’t work with lever handles, or cannot work with double cylinder deadbolts. Sometimes smart locks require their own brand’s hardware to be installed to work. Since it’s harder to make custom modifications to smart locks, they might be more vulnerable to burglar bypass methods that these modifications would offer protection from. Additionally, they are somewhat vulnerable to cyber attacks – but it should remain said that the average neighborhood burglar isn’t going to be hacking into your smart lock software to access your home.

 

There’s many benefits to both traditional and smart locks. Traditional locks offer the ability to broad customization and integration of multiple security layers, while smart locks offer the fantastic option of being able to monitor one’s lock access history, as well as activate locks from a far distance. Which one is best, is really up to you, based on your particular security needs.

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Safe Lockouts

Posted on by TopLocksmith in Security Tips

There’s many reasons that your safe might not open properly – however, if you are experiencing this frustrating phenomenon, you’re 100% working towards the goal of getting the damn thing back open again! Here’s Top Locksmith’s guide for safe lockouts.

 

What kind of safe do you have?

The first step to do when you’re locked out of your safe is to determine exactly what kind of safe you have. Look for company logos on the front of the safe. If you can’t find this information, look to see if you have any purchase records like receipts for the safe. If this can’t be found, inspect the safe’s size and construction method – there’s a likely chance that it truly is not a safe, but is a lockbox (but in either case, they can be opened by a licensed professional like those at Top.) If you still can’t figure it out, just call a professional – they will be able to.

 

Why are you locked out?

Did you accidentally break off the key in the lock? Did your electronic lock run out of batteries, or did the power go out? Did you lose or forget the code combination? In that case, there might be a reset code in the included manual or receipt (which is an indicator that you could really use a more secure safe!) Other mechanical issues include broken bolts or jammed up internal components in the safe handle. If the handle is spinning like the safe is open but it still won’t it’s likely a bolt issues.

 

Access Methods

Safe Bouncing

If this method works, you should have bought a more secure safe. Basically, in order to bounce a safe, simply strike the top of it while turning the handle at the same time – a motion akin to bumping akey. It will temporarily shock the interior components of the safe into their opening position. The maneuver requires a bit of elbow grease and practiced technique – and any self respecting safe should be able to resist it – but it can work on sub standard or shoddy safes.

 

Overriding the Lock

Override options often exist in small electronic keypad safes – such as hotel room safes that are intended for combination code reset. Sometimes, there’s a factory standard code that can be input to reset the safe – which is often a series of repeating zeros. Make sure to consult the manufacturer to get the correct reset code for your exact model of safe. There might also be openings on the bottom of the safe if it was not properly bolted down that might allow you to access a combination reset switch on the inside of the door – which is a difficult task akin to opening a car door with a wire hanger, but is technically possible. If a safe is not working due to an empty battery or power outage, these methods will not work.

 

Safecracking

This is a difficult task which most people can’t do. However professional locksmiths can open your safe this way as long as the safe is fit with a dial combination lock. For the most part, these methods won’t harm the safe. However if your safe doesn’t have a combination lock, there’s external manipulation based safecracking methods which may harm the safe – but not so direly that it will need to be completely replaced. These methods include drilling a hole into it, and inserting thin tools to manipulate its interior components – which obviously compromises its security, but then again, that’s kind of the point.

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Locksmith Cash Saving Tips

Posted on by TopLocksmith in Lockout Services, Locksmith Tips

Everyone loves to save money, and the expert locksmiths at Top are always seeking new ways to help our valued customers save cash. Here’s a few of our tips.

 

  • Get a spare key before you need to get one.

If you ever lose your keys, you’re always going to think about all the missed opportunities you had to create a spare key when it was still convenient. Now, it’s not going to be as easy as simply getting an existing key copied. So while you do have your home, business, ro car keys, make sure to call your local locksmith to create a duplicate so you can always have a spare on hand in case the original breaks or is lost. Getting a key copied or duplicated costs a fraction of what it costs to have a locksmith create a brand new key for you.

  • Try getting locks rekeyed rather than completely changed.

For amateur locksmiths, who rely on misinformation, it’s somewhat easier to change locks completely, rather than simply rekeying them. THis is the way they get to charge customers extra money, for unnecessary services. Rekeying basically consists of replacing a lock’s inner cylinder to allow for a new key to be used along with it, rendering previous keys not working – and for the experts at Top locksmith, this is a simple, efficient, and (luckily for our customers!) both cheap and effective operation.

  • Keep Locks Well Maintained.

If a lock is sticking, simply spray a little WD-40 in it, and slide the key in and out of it, and it will likely be good as new. There’s many ways that you can keep locks operating well all by yourself.

  • Save Cash on Surveillance.

If you’re looking to deter any potential trespassers or burglars, hang up a surveillance sign or consider installing a surveillance camera that looks 100% authentic, including motion and a blinking light. Motion activated cameras, if you do opt to install a real one, are often the most ideal balance between affordability and effectiveness.

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Push Button Car Keys

Posted on by TopLocksmith in Auto Locksmith

In 2017, many car companies have gotten rid of the need for car keys at all. Of course, it’s essential that car owners have a way of starting and stopping a car’s engine, but is a metallic physical key totally necessary. Many automobile makers are including push to start ignition buttons in their cars, and around 70 percent of modern vehicles have keyless car fobs that need to be present on the driver’s body in order to allow for the vehicle to get locked, unlocked, or started. Key fobs are convenient options for drivers since they get rid of the need for drivers to search around for keys in dark or rainy weather, or while they are carrying any heavy packages that might make searching for keys difficult. Vehicles are much harder to steal since burglars won’t have the keyless fob on them, and by eliminating the need for inserting a key into the ignition, you can eliminate the need to periodically refurbish or check up on your ignition.

Metal Keys – a disappearing phenomenon?

So will metal keys go the way of the dinosaurs and dodo bird, as well as the countless expert key cutters and locksmiths who make their creation and maintenance a cornerstone of their special work? No, actually. The expert automobile locksmiths at Top Locksmith have predicted this trend, and have trained to master keyless car fobs just as well as classic metallic car keys. Keyless fobs require programming specific to the vehicle they are matched with, and our expert technicians have all the necessary experience and equipment to program, reprogram, or repair any key fob that may be giving you issues.

Keyless Fobs

Keyless fobs provide additional layers of security for cars, since they make it much harder for a criminal to steal the vehicle – as even if the car is hotwired or the ignition is picked, they still we be unable to start the car without the presence of the electronic key fob. For any of the countless people worried about accidents being caused by broken ignition switches, those with keyless fobs won’t have to worry at all about a improperly installed ignition causing any accidents. A recent consumer study by AutoPacific revealed that keyless ignitions are the 5th most highly desired vehicular upgrade of 2016 – and since many people are absolutely fine paying for any safety upgrade like air bags or backing-up cameras, you can be sure that automobile manufacturers will continue listening to their demands and begin to include push button ignition technology in most new cars.

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Power Outage Home Security

Posted on by TopLocksmith in Security Tips

Winter storms can often cause power outages that leaves thousands of residences and businesses without power. Blackouts and power outages are often considered an ideal time to commit burglaries and other crimes that would normally not be attempted under normal power conditions. This is why it’s a smart approach to reinforce your home or business with security standards from Top Locksmith that will keep you safe and protected in the event of a power outage.

 

Lighting and Crime

The darkness that occurs during a power outage can seem incredibly jarring, and when you factor in the increase in crime, burgalry, and looting, it can be quite scary. At Top Locksmith, we maintain a commitment to keeping your residential and commercial locations safe and secure 24/7, including during power outages. Our locksmith can provide you with a range of security options at an affordable price that will protect your location during any form of power outage, including:

  • Digital and Biometric Locks
  • High Security Deadbolts
  • Security Systems
  • CCTV Systems

 

  • Safes
  • Buzzers
  • Wireless Locks with Extended Backup Battery

 

24/7 Service

If your home or business experiences a break-in during a power outage, Top Locksmith’s experts can be on site within 20 minutes to rectify any security flaws in your system that may have allowed a burglary to occur. We will provide a free security consultation and full inspection to analyze every aspect of your property that can use extra protection. We think nobody should feel uneasy inside their home or business, even during power outages, and by working with a professional company like Top Locksmith you can feel safe 24/7, no matter what happens.

 

Staying Prepared for Power Outages

Aside from enlisting the expert service of Top Locksmith, if you experience a power outage or blackout, we recommend sticking to following these easy tips:

  • Always keep a convenient bag filled with blackout supplies including: flashlights, blankets, a battery powered radio, candles, food, water, and a first aid kit.
  • Make sure your vehicle is always fully fueled, and make sure to conserve whatever fuel you do have.
  • Consider purchasing a backup electric generator in order to keep certain essentials plugged in and running.
  • Make sure that you have options for charging your phone including external power banks or even a car charger.
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Best New Smart Home Devices

Posted on by TopLocksmith in Locks

In this new year of 2017, there’s tons of fantastic options for home automation that allow people to integrate their homes with fantastic levels of convenience. However, there’s been a over-saturation of home automation devices – making it somewhat difficult for homeowners to determine what devices are the best for purchasing. Here’s Top Locksmith‘s guide to the best smart devices – so you can simplify your search.

 

Ring Doorbell

This doorbell fuses doorbells with a CCTV system via Wi-Fi, notifying homeowners whenever anybody presses the doorbell or walks up to the door. It’s simple to install, and heat and rain resistant. It works with a mobile application for full control from a distance, and has live streaming capabilities.

 

Schlage Sense Smart Lock

This smart lock detects when anybody opens the door via keypad or it’s build in key, and has a siren that sounds if the door experiences a forced entry attempt. It contains an ANSI Grade 1 deadbolt, the highest security grade in the industry. It offers full mobile control through the Schlage Sense application – and has a high degree of durability and strength to protect your home.

 

Nest Thermostat

This thermostat connects with all cooling and heating systems, including electric, air, solar, gas, and even geothermal. This thermostat is ‘learning’, meaning it will adapt to your habits after a few days of your custom settings, and automatically apply them, so you never have to manually set them again. It can be integrated with other smart devices, and notify you of any potential dangers inside your residence.

 

Amazon Echo

This device works as a speaker as well as a voice activated home automation device, that can control your front door or smart thermostat, as well as place Amazon deliveries. This is a newcomer to the game, but already immensely popular.

 

Phillips Hue

This lighting automation bulb allows for full control of home lighting wirelessly, with a range of customization options that include varied light intensity, as well as timing scheduling – even for separate bulbs.

 

iSmart Alarm

This smart home security system connects via WiFi to allow for remote access and control. It comes with a group of motion sensors and monitors that send information back to a central hub controller that notifies you if there’s any unexpected movement or entry attempts in your home. It can be easily installed, as well as programmed with any automation or scheduling rules that you may prefer.

 

Nest Protect

THis smoke alarm works with the Nest Thermostat, notifying you of any smoke or carbon monoxide way in advance of most normal smoke alarms. It’s easy to set up, and can be monitored via smartphone or tablet. You can choose options for wireless alarms, or even one wired into your homes existing circuits.

 

Nest Cam

This camera is easily installed, and has high quality video that can be watched live via smartphone. It can be connected with all other nest devices, and even offers two way voice chat, allowing you to communicate with people inside your home even when you’re not there. All it  needs is to be placed on an included stand or a wall mount, and it’s good to go.

 

Samsung SmartThings

This control unit can work with multiple home automation devices, and can be programmed with customizable automation protocols that link up various control factors through multiple devices. It’s strong back up battery and full connectivity with Amazon Echo, Apple Watch, and many different devices allows homeowners maximum convenience to control an array of home automation devices from a single location.

 

Belkin WeMo

This device plugs into power outlets and allows for remote control of any plug-in appliance, from toasters and lights, to televisions. You can program times for devices to turn on and off, to save on your electric bill, and it can be pared with other home automation devices – with pretty much infinite potential configurations.

 

Honda Miimo

This lawn mowing machine basically cuts grass on your lawn for you. Simply program it, put it down, and it will automatically mow your lawn while avoiding any obstacles. It’s pretty amazing to see us moving closer to a time when automated and robotic devices will eliminate the need for human labor in simple household tasks.

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Add On Lock Devices

Posted on by TopLocksmith in Baltimore Locksmith, Home Safety, Locks

We at Top Locksmith understand the priority and importance of keeping one’s home and family safe. Besides making sure your deadbolted shut at night, there’s a few other successful tactics that you can implement to make sure that your family remains as safe and secure as possible.

 

The initial steps should involve an upgrade of the entire lock infrastructure in your home. Many locks in American homes can be easily picked or bumped through criminal tampering. If you install a pick proof high security lock, you can help make your family much safer as well as greatly reducing the ease with which a criminal could break into your home. Your friendly assistant at Top Locksmith will be able to help you choose the exact right lock for your particular needs – highlighting burglar resistance abilities.

 

Door Devils

 

One device that works fantastically at securing doors is known as the Door Devil. It fits inside the jamb of the door, preventing it from being able to get kicked in. This is an effective security strategy – though one might not think burglars would be dumb enough to attempt kicking in a door – since many actually do, especially if they get frustrated at their lack of ability to effectively outsmart your impervious lock system.

 

Electronic Home Security

 

Another add on device that can greatly contribute to home security is an electronic home security system. These systems have wide variety in terms of their features and offerings for families or businesses. Many of them are attached to your entry door, so that when the door is opened when the alarm is armed, a loud alarm will ring out – which works to scare away any potential intruder (as it alerts everyone nearby with its piercing sound) as well as automatically contacting local law enforcement agencies, or the security company. Other features include motion sensors which can detect any motion inside the home, door knob sensors, or window sensors. Window alarms are always a good idea as windows are a common entry method for burglars. Finally, the installation of CCTV monitoring camera systems are never a  bad idea, as they can help you make sure that nobody is tampering with or trying to enter your home at any time you feel like checking.

 

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