Locksmith Tips for Holiday Travel

Travel Tips from Your Local Philadelphia Locksmith

HolidayTravelTipsfromPhila-Locksmith

For most of the general population, the holiday season triggers feelings of excitement, joy, and the need to see distant cousins you haven’t spoken to in months.  According to the US Bureau of Transportation Statistics, during the Thanksgiving travel period there is a 52% increase in long distance travel just over the span of 6 days, and for the Christmas/New Year’s time frame long distance travel increases 23%. All this traveling makes the holidays an ideal time for home invasions while you’re away, and it also increases the chances of misplacing personal belongings, such as car keys, during one of your many stops this holiday season. At Phila-Locksmith we are extremely excited for the holidays and would hate to see the holiday cheer of anyone tarnished by running into any of the above-mentioned problems.  This is why we have come up with some simple travel tips that will make a huge difference in your life this holiday season.

Residential Locksmith Travel Tips

Traveling during the holidays can potentially put your home at risk to be burglarized. It is imperative to take security precautions to ensure that your home does not fall victim to holiday thieves. When the amount of people traveling increases that also directly affects the amount of crime in any given area, because of a higher volume of traffic in the area, and most people are absent from their homes as well. The following tips will help you keep your home and your family safe this holiday season.

  1. Have your home security evaluated.
    1. One of our residential locksmith technicians can come out to your home and evaluate the security grade of your locks as well as suggest any changes or improvements you may want to make.
    2. Our technicians are able to assist you with installing safes in your home to keep valuables secure while you are away.
    3. We even have locksmith technicians who specialize in home security and surveillance that can come out to install a closed-circuit television system in your home as well.
  2. Make it look like someone is always home.
    1. Leave your lights on a timer so at night it will appear that your home is occupied, this will help to ward off criminals.
    2. Leave a vehicle parked in your driveway to make thieves think someone is home.
    3. Have a trusted friend or neighbor pick up your mail so unwanted visitors don’t notice a growing pile of mail in your mailbox, another indication that the home is empty.
  3. Do not post travel plans on social media.
    1. While it may be exciting to share your plans with friends, other people see your trip to Grandma’s house in Florida as a chance to burglarize your home.
    2. Another thing to keep in mind in relation to social media, don’t post your new lavish gifts online because it provides unwanted eyes a look into what you have that they could potentially try to take.
  4. Unplug your garage door openers.
    1. Some thieves think outside of the box, and rather than try to gain access to your home through an entry door, they use the garage door with a universal garage door opener remote. If you unplug your garage door opener before departing this will leave thieves stuck in their tracks.
    2. Ensure that you lock your garage door if you operate it manually.

Automotive Locksmith Travel Tips

Upon hearing the statistics regarding people who travel, it probably painted a beautiful image in your head of Septa stations and the airport being jam-packed with with people trying to figure out maps, schedules, tickets, and even life itself as they try to make it to friends’ and relatives’ homes.  Surprisingly, most holiday travel (91% to be exact), takes place in the form of a good, old-fashioned, family road-trip, according to the US Bureau of Transportation Statistics.  That being said, the number of people who lose or lock their keys in their vehicle is directly affected, and that is where the automotive locksmiths at Phila-Locksmith come in handy.  

  1. Bring a spare key with you.
    1. One way to avoid falling victim to being stranded outside of your vehicle is to have a spare key on you or your vehicle at all times. There are little magnetic lock boxes that can be placed on the undercarriage of your car to ensure that you always have a spare key on you.
    2. No spare key? No problem, we can have an automotive technician to you to make you a duplicate key within as little as 20 minutes. They will be able to provide, cut, and program the key on the spot.
  2. Put a tag on your keys with your contact information.
    1. By simply putting your name and phone number on your key chain you will greatly increase the chances of your keys finding their way back to you.
    2. We do not advise putting anymore personal information than that on your keys as it could lead to future security issues.
  3. Go through a mental checklist when exiting your vehicle.
    1. If you make it a habit to remind yourself to do a checklist each time you exit your vehicle it will help you remember to grab your keys.
    2. Each time you leave your vehicle ask yourself a few questions: Do I have my wallet? Do I have my keys? Did I turn my lights out? This exercise will stick with you and become second nature, almost guaranteeing you will never lose or forget your keys again.
  4. Lost your keys completely?
    1. First we recommend retracing your steps, and checking those pesky couch cushions before you panic. If you find your keys, great! If not, there is still no need to panic.
    2. Don’t worry if you’ve lost your keys, a car key specialist from Phila-Locksmith can come out to your location within as little as 20 minutes to make you a new key on the spot. The new key will be cut and programmed to your vehicle and will have you back on the road within as little as an hour!
    3. While you  have a technician out there making you a replacement car key, it might be time to invest in that spare key we mentioned earlier, especially if you’re already getting a new key made, it will be easier on your wallet, and the technician to make a second key at that time.

We hope that these simple tips will make a big difference in your lives this holiday season. If you have any questions or concerns regarding any residential or automotive locksmith needs you may have this holiday season please give us a call. We have customer service associates on call 24/7 to help you out no matter how last minute your travel plans are. A technician is guaranteed to be out to you in as little as 20 minutes. We thank you for your business and hope the upcoming holidays are joyful.

 

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Keeping Up With Locksmiths and Keys (12/3)

Since our last blog post, Phila-Locksmith has been keeping track of much of the news and happenings in locksmith related areas. Much of this news can be helpful to customers for increasing security while also saving themselves a few dollars. In the best interest of our customers, we have condensed some of the most important lock and key related news that has occurred since our last blog update. The topics that we will cover in this post are an update to the story of a Modesto locksmith who was gunned down during an eviction process, a burglary in Charlotte and KeyMe’s forray from only house keys  to attempting the duplication of car keys as well.

Stanislaus County Lawyers Probing Locksmith’s Personal Life

In July of 2013 a Modesto locksmith was killed during an eviction standoff along with a police officer. Following his death, the family of the locksmith wanted the county to take, at least partial, responsibility for the resulting death. Now that lawyers have begun to dissect the case, it seems that a large portion of the case will focus on the personal life of both the locksmith and his wife; after a judge granted county attorneys with three years of both marriage counseling and mental health history. The attorney for the locksmith’s family has said that this action represents a gross violation of the family’s privacy. It will be interesting to see, once this case goes to trial in August of next year, whether attorneys will be able to take such a detailed look at the family’s private life and whether it will have bearing on the outcome of the case. For a more detailed update on the information requested in this case, visit The Modesto Bee.

$45K in Damage to Charlotte Barbershop

Over the Thanksgiving weekend one landlord in Charlotte, North Carolina, received a surprise that he was likely not thankful for at all. After evicting a tenant who owed about a year’s worth of rent, on November 26, the landlord had his locks replaced by a locksmith to prevent the previous tenant from coming back. Clearly, there was a lapse in security, whether it be the lock, installation or simply blunt force, that allowed for vandals to get inside of the former barbershop. When the landlord arrived back at his storefront that very Saturday, he found that the locks were disabled and store vandalized. The burglars stole some items, such as the water meter, glass and sinks, while also leaving drywall and sheetrock destroyed. A contractor has provided this landlord with a repair estimate of $45,000. Which begs the question, could this have been avoided if a higher security lock had been installed? Many individuals are hesitant to spend the extra money for a more secure lock, but is that savings worth the loss that can occur if someone breaks in?

Is KeyMe Worth It For Car Keys?

We have covered the implementation of KeyMe kiosks previously, while their concept seems like a solid idea on paper, there are some logistical and security concerns. For those within walking distance of a kiosk in New York City, getting an apartment key at 7-11 seems like a much easier process than choosing a locksmith. Now KeyMe wants you to store a copy of your car key on their cloud system. KeyMe now offers duplicate car keys, but there is a catch. The car keys can not be made on the spot, and must be mailed to the receiver. Unless you have a second vehicle to drive around, then this can leave you without transportation for a week. Until KeyMe is able to offer immediate service, like a mobile locksmith, the provider of replacement car keys will likely remain locksmiths.

Continue to stay posted with us at Phila-Locksmith for the latest in locksmith related news, tips and information. For those in the Philadelphia tri-state area, feel free to call us at anytime to discuss your lock and key or security needs.

Oklahoma Man Calls Locksmith for Burglary

(Via Newson6) Early Sunday morning an Oklahoma locksmith responded to an emergency lockout call in Tulsa. When the locksmith arrived on scene he was met by one man, Alexandro Valero, who claimed to be locked out of his home at about 8 AM. The locksmith assisted the man by opening the door, but once the door was finally opened it revealed that there were actually people in the home at that time. Those individuals happened to be the actual homeowners. At this point Mr. Valero ran, leaving the homeowners and locksmith likely confused. Valero returned to the residence later to apologize and was arrested by police and is facing first degree burglary charges. Luckily the homeowners were there to thwart this burglary attempt, but the truth is it should not have occurred in the first place. Additional details could emerge, but it will be interesting to see if the locksmith had asked for identification or for some type of verification that it was Mr. Valero’s home.

Before opening the door, the locksmith should have asked for identification so that he would have been able to match the customer’s ID address to the address he is completing the unlock service at. In some cases, like a rental unit, this may not be entirely possible. A locksmith should still be able to verify that it is indeed that individual’s residence by asking for a utility bill with a name that matches that individual’s identification. In a situation where a customer is unable to provide this information, a locksmith should contact authorities to ensure that they would not be liable for a theft in this type of scenario. Situations such as these are another reason that lawmakers are looking to clamp down on unlicensed locksmiths. An unlicensed locksmith would, theoretically, be less likely to take preventative steps that ensure the individual they are unlocking the door for is a resident, since they are less wary of any repercussions.

What can you do?

One way that you can prevent your home from being struck by a burglar like this is to use a secondary lock on the home’s exterior door. A locksmith will not be able to pick the secondary lock, which would raise additional red flags that this home may not belong to the individual claiming to be a “resident” such as Mr. Valero. Another way to prevent the proliferation of unlicensed locksmiths, who may put you at risk of a scheme like this, is to always choose a local professional locksmith to complete services for you. By frequenting a professional more often, you can help to limit the amount of unprofessional “locksmiths” who are operating in the area.

A story such as this can be a good reminder and learning moment for a locksmith who may not be constantly checking a customer’s information. By taking just a few extra seconds to ensure that they are completing service for an authorized individual the locksmith can not only limit their own liability, but save headache and hassle for the individual being burglarized. As for potential burglars who think that this may be a good method for breaking into a home, more often than not, you will find yourself behind bars like Mr. Valero.

South Philadelphia Burglary Streak Overnight

(VIA NBC 10 Philadelphia)  Overnight in the East Passyunk section of South Philly a brazen burglar broke into multiple businesses located along Passyunk Ave. and did so in a very straight forward and brutish way. Rather than a more noninvasive technique such as bumping the lock or picking it the burglar decided to simply smash the entire lock in. Knowledge like this lets us know that this heist was likely perpetrated by someone who is not a sophisticated criminal. After breaking the lock on the front door to the restaurant FUEL the burglar ran into the restaurant and stole the entire cash register before running out of the restaurant.

Once the owner arrived at his storefront today he could see the damage that was done. Not only was he able to see the locks which the burglar broke, but the burglar left the remnants of the cash register just around the corner. A total of $150 in cash was stolen from FUEL, but they were not the only restaurant which was hit on that stretch of Passyunk Avenue. Three additional businesses were broken into the same way, on the same strip of storefront last night. Each time the burglar used the same tactic to gain entry and then left with the register.

For these business owners this is a complete lapse in security. As operators they certainly want to secure their storefronts and took measures to do so by having locks installed and engaged, but as was detailed previously by Phila-Locksmith making sure that your entire security system will be able to take damage is very important. This why choosing a professional locksmith company like Phila-Locksmith can behoove business owners. Our technicians can identify whether a lock is the proper fit for a door and would recommend modifications that would prevent a simple break in like this from occurring again. After all, what is the point of having a lock if someone can easily knock it off?

“…Just go get a job,” said Cima. “Get a job and stop harassing the people that actually work hard.” – Rocco Cima, CEO FUEL

Luckily for the business owner the thief only was able to get away with $150 and no one was harmed during the break-ins. Security camera footage of the suspect was taken and police are currently looking for leads in the case. Burglaries like this always seem to happen at the worst time for business owners, so as always, Phila-Locksmith recommends increasing your security to an acceptable level before something like this is to occur.

More information on these burglaries can be found on NBC 10 Philadelphia’s website.

Business Burglarized on Drexel’s Campus

(VIA WPVI-ABC) 6abc Philadelphia is reporting that Ross Commons, a restaurant located on Drexel’s campus at 34th and Powelton streets, was burglarized during the early morning hours Sunday. Burglars were able to enter the building by smashing through a window of the restaurant and made off with two cash registers which were inside of the business. For those who know the area, it may come as a surprise that the burglars were able to enter the establishment in such a way since the popular restaurant is located on the busy student living side of Drexel’s campus.

drexel burglary

Burglarized early Sunday, Ross Commons is located on Drexel’s main campus.

The locks to the entrance of the store were obviously not at fault for this break-in and it is likely that this robbery was more than just a crime of opportunity. Generally burglaries of commercial locations are done by employees, or former employees who have access to keys. In  those cases a simple re-key of the locks with which an employee has keys, will prevent them from having access to the business any longer, this obviously was not the case here. The time that the burglary was completed, as well as the fact that the business is in a busy location tells us that this was likely a crime which was planned out beforehand.

Having a burglar break through a window is one case that can be difficult to defend against, to have stronger glass installed is a huge project and  ultimately not worth the price for your risk. However, there still are ways that Ross Commons could have helped top prevent this from happening. This first may already be in effect, and that is to have closed circuit television installed. Closed circuit television can act as a preventative measure, by scaring off some thieves just at the site of the cameras, but they are also a big help in trying to recover stolen goods. By having closed circuit television installed business-owners give police a better chance at catching the burglars that strike by providing visuals of the perpetrators.  The second way is one that business or home owners may not normally think of when trying to prevent burglaries, but can be the most effective way to stop burglars from striking at your business. This is to take initiative in your area, ask trusted neighbors to keep an ear or eye out for your home or business when you are not there and have them report any suspicious activity to police.

By getting the entire neighborhood involved with the vigilance of each others property, you can help to foster an environment of safety and security on your block or neighborhood. While this burglary did take place at an odd time, 5 AM, there can still be helpful neighbors in the area to report sounds, such as the breaking of a window, or suspicious persons. With business and home owners working together in any neighborhood to consistently help each others security, any neighborhood can see a decrease in crime and an increase in a sense of security.

As for the burglary at Ross Commons, police did recover one of the cash registers near 32nd and Hamilton streets, but have yet to release any more information on the case and we will keep you posted on any interesting updates.

Armed Burglary in Fox Chase

(VIA WPVI ABC) Last night, just after midnight, armed burglars stormed an occupied house in the Fox Chase section of Philadelphia. Currently police are investigating, but this should serve as a reminder to lock your doors and windows at night, no matter which neighborhood you may live in. While there are no official motives or leads from police yet, it likely would have helped to prevent the crime had there been an enabled deadbolt on the front door.

What occurred was that at 12:30 AM today, four armed people burst into an occupied house on Solly Ave. in Fox Chase. At the time of the robbery there were four individuals inside of the residence, two men and two women. Luckily for the victims, three of whom were duct tapped, the most serious injury was just a dislocated shoulder. Two of the victims were taken to Jeanes Hospital for their minor injuries. Following the burglary, the perpetrators were able to escape through the rear exit of the house.

We will wait to see if there will be anymore information released by police, whether it be additional details about the incident or potential leads. It will be interesting to see if the police announce if any type of lock or security system was engaged at the time, which at this point seems very unlikely. Simply by flipping the deadbolt to engaged when walking in your door can prevent you from becoming victim of a crime such as this. While not necessarily this case, many burglaries are crimes of opportunity, where the burglar had not initially intended to burglarize a residence, but could just not pass up the open opportunity. This can be easily avoided by locking your doors and windows for the night and when you go to leaving in the morning. An incident like this sure can remind us that no matter the neighborhood you live in, you should still protect yourself from the threat of burglary.

Tips to Prevent Burglaries during the Holidays

Most people know that there is a spike in crime during the warm summer months as more people are out and about. This makes them more likely to leave entrances to their home unlocked, it can also be caused by the increase in vacations that are taken during the summer months. However, this does not mean that you can let your guard down during the holiday season. Burglaries also increase during the holiday season, as it is more likely for home owners to have high value items inside of their house, while burglars are looking to stock up on the latest gadgets, jewelry in addition to cash for their holiday season. That is why Phila-Locksmith wants to give you tips that can help you to keep your home from being burglarized and ruining your holiday.

1. Be Prepared While Travelling

If you are leaving your home for an extended period of time during this holiday season it is important to make sure that your house is prepared for your vacation. It is important to put in a hold on your home mail if you are not going to be there in person to pick it up. Piling up of mail and newspapers are a dead giveaway to burglars that no one is or has been home. The United States Postal Service allows you to schedule a hold on mail straight from their website and you can even set an option to have all of the mail delivered once you are home again. If you do not want to have this happen, another option is to have a trusted friend or family member pick up the mail from your home daily. Posting of your travel plans in advance on social media can also attract burglars who can use resources on the internet to find your home. Of course the simplest and easiest thing to do that is extremely crucial is to lock all entrances, especially deadbolt locks.

2. Keep Presents Hidden

This tip is especially important if you celebrate Christmas. Leaving your presents or tree in full display can be a way to easily attract burglars who are looking for high value items. It is recommended to keep Christmas trees as well as presents away from exterior windows, especially ones facing roads, in order to keep thieves from assuming that your home is a juicy target.

3. Hide Big Ticket Trash

It is important to keep the packaging of big ticket items such as gaming systems and televisions out of view before trash day. A TV box that has been siting out front of your home can be an invitation to some would be burglars. Keeping your trash in the house or hidden from view until trash day is highly advised.

4. Stay Vigilant

One of the consistencies that we see in areas that are low in burglaries is that neighbors are more willing to report suspicious behavior before it turns into a burglary at their neighbor’s house. During the holidays, it is normal to see more people coming and going in the neighborhood as people visit family and friends, but it is important still report suspicious behavior to help save neighbors from a ruined holiday.

 

Prepare Your Home For Break-In Season

In Philadelphia the weather is heating up and as the weather heats up there is a dramatic increase in the amount of burglaries that are seen nation wide. It is important to be aware of this so you can properly prepare for the summer months and keep your home safe. There are two main reasons that we see more burglaries being committed in the summer months; one being that home owners are more likely to be on vacation leaving more opportunities for burglars to enter and exit undetected. The second reason that there tends to be an increase of burglaries is that it is warmer in the summer months which leads to more people being outside and leads to more windows and doors to be left open. That is why being careful can be one of the most important aspects to keeping your home safe.

Obviously the greatest way to protect you home from burglary is to make sure that your doors are properly locked and windows properly closed, however leaving something unlocked is not the only way a burglary happens. Depending on what level of security you desire it may be smart to install a deadbolt lock onto any exterior door which does not have it, this makes the door more difficult to pick as well as more difficult to kick in. Another smart alternative to your standard lock would be the installation of a mortise lock which creates a more secure entry way than standard cylinder and deadbolt locks.

There are ways to protect your home even when you are on vacation. If you are able to install a security monitoring system on your home, this is the best way to maintain your homes security, but it is not within most family’s budgets to have this luxury. During the summer months when you are on vacation it is extremely important to log on to the Post Office’s website to put a hold on mail deliveries. It is easy to set-up and mail piling up in the mailbox is a dead give away to burglars that no one is home. Having a neighbor pick up your mail and newspapers works just as well, if you have trustworthy neighbors that is. When on vacation it is also a good idea to have a member of the family who did not go away to check up on the house everyday. Whether that means stopping by to cut the grass or even just to go inside to eat a meal, it will ward off anyone who may be thinking that you are not home.

Burglary is often a crime of oppurtunity where a criminal sees an opening they had no expected and go for it. This is why Phila-Locksmith believes that one of the best ways to protect your home from burglary is to always be mindful. Remembering to lock all doors and windows is obviously the most important because a high security lock will not do you any good if it is not even locked.

 

 

Burglary Streak in Philadelphia Area

Over the past week we have seen an influx of burglaries in the Philadelphia area and as a security company we want our customers to be aware. The Main Line has been target to a recent string of burglaries that have left home owners out of a large amount of cash and valuables. Specifically within the Main Line, the townships of Lower Merion and Penn Wynne have seen atleast 11 burglaries in the past week alone, raising concern for residents. These townships are specifically being targeted because of their affluence and wealth since criminals believe they can be in for a large score. So far, they have. Burglars made off with nearly $500,000 worth of jewelry, cash and designer bags from one home in Villanova earlier this week, no arrests have been made.

What can residents do to protect themselves from burglars?

In order to defend your home from burglary there are two main aspects you need to take into account; the aesthetic of the house and also the physical security capabilities. From an aesthetic perspective you do not want your home to seem like there is constantly no one in the residence. If you do have to leave your home for multiple days it is important to remember to not leave mail or newspapers to pile up, this is a tell tale sign for burglars that no one is home. Another technique that some people use when not in their homes is to leave a light on. Just giving the burglars an impression that your home is constantly occupied by multiple individuals can be enough to detract them from attempting to break-in.

Of course if a burglar does attempt to break into your home you want your outer layers of defense to be as strong as possible. This is where a professional locksmith can help. A locksmith can install high security deadbolts as well as other security features that will have you feeling at ease. Some residents in the Main Line however are taking even bigger steps. Recently one resident of Villanova decided to install closed circuit television cameras in order to catch any would be burglars in the act.

Remember to stay safe and lock the doors!