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  • How Your Home Might Be A Burglary Target

    Posted on May 31st, 2018 | 0 Comments

    Could your Chicago home be a crime target? You might not even be aware whether your home is being actively targeted for a burglary by criminals - and you might even be possibly tempting burglars through practices that make your home vulnerable to crime. The Bureau of Justice Statistics estimate that over 3 million houses suffer burglaries every year - usually when people aren’t home. Here’s some of the ways you might be making your home a target for burglary - and how to avoid doing so, as prepared by the residential security experts at Chicago Locksmiths.

    Leaving Doors Open

    Never leave your doors open, as this is just advertising your home as a burglary target. In fact, the majority of Chicago homes are most susceptible to experiencing a burglary between 10 in the morning and 3 in the afternoon, when the majority of people are out of the house. These burglaries can be completely nonchalant if your doors are left open, with criminals either posing as delivery personnel or simply waltzing into your home casually.

    You Leave Boxes and Packaging Advertising Valuables Outside your Home

    You invite crime to your home by leaving evidence of valuables and electronics outside your home. This means packaging and boxes for televisions, consoles, smartphones, home care equipment, or any other type of expensive electronic items. Electronics, after petty cash, are the most commonly stolen item during burglaries. Break down packaging or boxes and place it in non-see-through garbage or recycling bags or bins outside of your home.

    Medication

    Many burglars these days are searching for prescription drugs, most specifically painkillers. These drugs, when stolen, can be sold on the underground black market. When burglars are aware of someone very sick inside the home, or someone with the prescription, they may target your home for burglary. Make sure that your home is equipped with high grade security deadbolts whether or not this is the case.

    Leaving Windows Open

    Burglars often check windows - especially ground floor windows - so make sure to leave your windows locked too, especially at night and when you’re not home.

    Broadcasting Vacations

    Don’t let everyone know on social media that you’re going on vacation, especially if your profile is public and can wind up on searches for the keyword ‘vacation.’ This helps you avoid advertising your home as a potential ideal target for a burglary.

    Disarmed Alarms

    What’s the point of having a home security alarm if you keep it disarmed all the time?? Make sure that your alarms are always armed and active - especially during times that you’re asleep or out of the house - yes, including broad daylight!!

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  • Red Flag Door Issues

    Posted on May 28th, 2018 | 0 Comments

    All mechanical devices have issues from time to time - hopefully minor ones - and door locks are no exception. Most home or business owners will say that their door locks have experiences issues once in a while, and the way that they react to these issues when they pop up determines how seriously the issues will impact the security level of their homes or businesses. Here’s some red flag door lock issues that should be addressed immediately in order to protect the security of your property - as prepared by the residential security experts at Chicago Locksmiths.

    Loose Door Knobs or Handles

    Usually after much extended use, door knobs and door handles can become loose - especially if they are used on the main entrance of the door. While this issue can seem innocuous, it’s actually a major security risk. Nearly 60 percent of home break ins are carried out through forced entry, and if the locks of your door are loose it becomes way easier for burglars to enter into your home - not to mention the fact that it’s a major fire hazard. Loose door knobs or handles can occur on the inside or the outside of the door, and are usually due to the screws becoming undone over time, or simply worn down. An expert lock repair technician can help fix this by analyzing the set screw, fastener, and spindle of the handle.

    Door Lock Misalignment

    This is associated with the important parts of the lock not lining up in a way that allows it to properly function. This is usually something along the lines of the locking bolt or latch not lining up flush with the door’s strike plate - which accommodates an extended bolt or latch. This is a common problem associated with the faulty installation of a door, or door frame warping due to weather changes. It needs to be handled as soon as possible, as the longer this issue is left unfixed, the worse it gets - and it can even cause serious damage to the lock bolt of your door, leading to high repair costs - not to mention a major security risk.

    Keys Broken in Lock

    This is a really frustrating issue that needs to be handled by professionals. This occurs usually when people are quickly attempting to to turn a key in a latch or force it in, and find that the head of the key snaps off from the blade which is still inserted into the key slot. Then, the main issue becomes successfully extracting the key’s blade from the lock slot without damaging the lock mechanism. Amateur attempts to remove it usually take forever, and even if they are somewhat successful - which they usually aren’t - they are likely to cause lock damage. Instead, when dealing with this problem, contact a licensed locksmith to assist you with this issue.

    Lock and Latch Jamming

    This issue is usually caused by a buildup of crud inside the internal mechanism of the lock - and even if this sounds like an easy to fix issue, it needs to be handled as soon as possible - not to mention the fact that jammed locks and latches could possibly be a result of an attempted break in. This can usually be fixed by applying lubricant that’s safe for the lock mechanism into the keyway gently, and seeing if this removes the obstructing material. If this doesn’t work, contact a licensed lock repair expert, as it’s likely that the latch or bolt will need to be replaced.

    Spinning Lock Cylinder

    If the cylinder of the lock fully turns when you insert the key, it usually is due to a loose or broken set screw. It simply needs to be reached and tightened up, but this is sometimes difficult depending on what type of lock complexity you are dealing with. For the easiest fix, contact a licensed lock repair expert right away - it will simply save you the time and stress you might expend while looking for a way to access the set screw.

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  • Home Safe Evaluation Guide

    Posted on April 18th, 2018 | 0 Comments

    Buying a home safe can be a confusing process due to the massive amount of safes available on the market today. The huge variety of price ranges, makes, and models can be overwhelming for the average consumer. In this blog post, the safe and security experts at Chicago Locksmiths will help you figure out the right steps to take when figuring out what home safe to purchase.

    Brand Awareness

    Avoid brands that are known to be low quality. These brands are usually the top results on Amazon or Walmart due to their cheap cost - since they are cheap to manufacture, due to low quality construction. You don’t necessarily need an army grade safe, but you’ll want to at least buy one that offers a good level of protection. Look up the average reviews for the brand of the safe you’re looking into, as well as their rating in security journals.

    Door and Body Distance

    Look at the distance between the safe door and it’s body. If it’s a wide gap, skip that safe. That gap can be used as leverage for burglars to pry the safe open, or attack the bolts securing the door in place. Make sure that you choose a safe with a tight connection between the door and body, as well as making sure not to choose one that has lots of unfilled pre-drilled mounting holes.

    Welding

    Make sure that a safe is welded with a continuous process rather than simply spot welded. Spot welding can be...spotted through a circular dimple that varies in size and distance. Continuous welds melds two pieces of metal across their entire overlapping line. Spot welding is a cheaper process, but it’s also much easier for burglars to overcome it. Invest in a continuously welded safe.

    Dial Types

    You can get a safe with a manual and/or digital dial. They both have pros and cons. Digital diles allow for fast combination entry, easy operation, and easier password changes - while also being vulnerable to power loss, moisture, electromagnetism, and potential digital overrides. Manual dial safes last a long time, are hard to manipulate, can be decoded by licensed professional locksmiths - but also take a much longer time to unlock, use specific technical methods for opening that might take time for the average person to master, and takes a long time for codes to be changed. Make the choice based on your own level of skill, comfort, and security needs.

    Key Overrides

    Many types of safes allow for a key to be used in it rather than the safe combination, leading to the important need for key control - as keys can be lost, stolen, or even copied by an unauthorized party. Keyways can also be picked by burglars, making safes vulnerable in a totally new way. However, key overrides allow you to open up your safe even if it’s combination is forgotten. If you choose to opt for a safe with a key override function, make sure to keep the key in a stable, secret, constant place.

    Fire Rating

    You want to make sure that your safe is fire rated to withstand heat for a long amount of time. Fire rated safes are available in many varieties - some that can withstand lower heat for longer amounts of time, and those who can withstand double the heat for half the time. Since the average home fire burns at a heat of 1,100 Fahrenheit, a safe fire rated to last at 350 Fahrenheit for 90 minutes doesn’t seem too appealing. Make sure that your safe as as high as a fire rating, as well as security (forced entry/burglary resistance) rating as possible.

    Metal Thickness

    One of the most important safe variables, safe thickness determines a safe’s true level of security and potential vulnerability. The thicker and stronger the metal, the more secure your safe is. Steel gauge safes are stronger the lower the gauge number is - so 5 gauge steel is stronger than 9 gauge steel, and etc… Any safe that’s at a gauge level that’s above 12 shouldn’t even be called a safe; it’s simply a lockbox. Make sure to choose a safe with the thickest metal content possible for your budget.Safes, Safe Tips, Security, Residential Security, Commercial Security

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  • Post Burgalry Office Security

    Posted on April 23rd, 2018 | 0 Comments

    When an office suffers a break in or burglary, business owners have to deal with the ramifications. Besides dealing with potential property loss, one of the important measures that have to be taken after an office break in is reinforcement of office security plans in order to correct the vulnerabilities that allowed for the break in in the first place, as well as other security layer strengthening in order to minimize the potential for future break ins. In this blog post, the commercial security experts at Chicago Locksmiths will detail the steps that have to be taken in a commercial setting after a break in.

    Office Security Policy

    Analyze your existing office security policies. You want to make sure that you are screening those entering your office. This can take the form of mandatory sign ins, implementation of access control functions like codes or card scanning, or at the very least implementing a secretary or security person to stay aware of the goings on in your office.

    Access Point Analysis

    Make sure that you are aware of all potential access points in your office. This includes back doors, windows, delivery entrances, garage doors, or even doors that may exist inside office basements or stairwells. Make sure to bolster the access points that have been breached in the break in if you know which ones these are.

    Security Lock Installation

    Make sure to install high grade commercial security locks on all doors and windows. Often, the cost of locks reflect the level of security that they provide, so this is one area where business owners should not cut costs. Work with an expert commercial locksmith to determine exactly what locks are best for your office. Exterior and interior doors require different types of locks, so make sure that you have a creative mind when you’re figuring out what locks to install.

    Perimeter Security Aspects

    Install alarms and security cameras at perimeter areas. This functions as both active and passive security. In the active aspect, these features allow you to monitor exactly what’s going on in your office. If someone breaches the alarm, it will notify authorities or at the very least blare a loud noise that will scare off potential trespassers. In the passive aspect, visible perimeter security measures like alarms or cameras function as fantastic deterrents. Potential criminals will easily spot these features, and likely decide to move on to a more vulnerable target, as they don’t want to take the chance of getting caught.

    Access Control

    Make sure that keypad door locks are installed in your office. This makes sure that only certain people who have been granted specific access permission can enter particular areas of your property. This has the benefit of minimizing the dark chance that your location was burglarized by an employee who understand exactly where valuables are kept inside your office. When deciding what types of keypad access control to install, be aware of the size of your business and the amount of employees that currently work there. Chicago Locksmiths’ security experts can help you determine what the best type of access control devices are for your commercial location’s specific security needs.

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  • 5 Best Electronic Door Locks

    Posted on March 23rd, 2018 | 0 Comments

    Now that huge advancements have been made in residential and commercial locksmith based security, there’s a huge variety of electronic door locks available on the market. This wide variety of locks come in an equally large variety of makes, models, sizes, and boast a huge amount of different features. In this brief blog post, the home security experts at Chicago Locksmiths will help you determine what the best electronic door locks for your home or business are.

    Toledo Locks Electronic Jaen Lever

    This relatively underdog lock brand offers many different types of electronic access options at a budget friendly price. This lock boasts solid anti lock bumping features, along with traditional key, electronic keypad, and infrared remote access options. It’s somewhat hard to install, and is not a smart lock, but rather simply an electronic lock - but a good one at that.

    LockState RemoteLock 5i WiFi Electronic Deadbolt

    This fantastic lock for property managers can work either as a deadbolt or lever lock, and can be programmed with up to 1000 customizable user codes in order to maintain key control. It has a privacy mode feature that can disable all access codes besides a master code, and has lockout functionality that is engaged if the wrong code is entered 5 times in a  row. This lock can work even though power outages, and has sleep mode features. It’s easily installed, and can be seamlessly integrated into existing WiFi networks via a router.

    Schlage Sense

    This popular lock brand makes this high quality electronic lock that offers a superior level of security compared to others. It contains a Grade 1 deadbolt that’s resistance to forced entry attempts, has a built in alarm, and can be operated with a traditional key or a keypad - as well as voice commands. The lock can store upto 30 customizable user access codes, and it’s ease of installation varies on what the existing door hardware is. The Schlage smart lock comes complete with deadbolt, so it cannot be paired with existing locks, but rather it will replace it.

    Kwikset Kevo Smart Lock Gen. 2

    This superior deadbolt has improved security due to its military grade PKI encryption that protects it from cyber attack as well as smart key technology that protects from lock bumping or lock picking. It’s easy to install, and works with a Bluetooth mobile application. It can additionally be integrated with a whole slew of other smart home automation devices including the Nest Thermostat and the Ring Video Doorbell.

    KABA Oracode 660 Electronic Keyless Lock

    This popular choice for property managers that is available as a cylindrical or mortise lockset. It can be programmed with up to 128 customizable user access codes, with full time sensitive code features allowing for easy access for people like cleaners or pet sitters. Along with it’s access/lock control options, it’s very easy to install, and is more of a traditional electronic lock than a smart lock - but it can still be integrated for remote access through a web based keyless access system available in it’s upgraded version.

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  • Choosing The Best High Security Locks

    Posted on March 18th, 2018 | 0 Comments

    When your home or business absolutely needs to be protected with the utmost level of strong security, it’s essential to understand all the variable factors of high security locks in order to determine what the best locks for your needs are. In this brief blog post, the residential security and commercial security experts at Chicago Locksmiths will help you understand exactly how to choose the best high security locks for your needs.

    Lock Cylinder

    You want the lock cylinder to be made of a complicated internal makeup, reducing the chances that a burglar will be able by using a bump key, lock impressor, or picking. The more complicated your lock cylinder is, the fewer amount of people will even attempt to try to break through your security. If you’re looking for a keypad only door lock, you don’t even have to worry about lock cylinders.

    Metal

    You want the lock to be made of as much strong metal as possible. Since parts of the door need to be absent when the door lock is installed, requiring cross-boring, the door will be vulnerable around the lock hardware area. The best high security door locks add metal content that help protect this vulnerable area of your door. You can usually tell if a lock has a good amount of metal just by holding it in your hand. Heavy locks don’t utilize large gaps or plastic parts to reduce manufacture cost - while sacrificing security. Any good high security lock needs to have heavy and strong metal in spades.

    Bolts

    You want your lock to have hardened steel bolts that can resist bludgeoning attacks like battering, sledge hammers, shoulder strikes, or kicks. Bolts should also be resistant to cutting with tems like hacksaws or reciprocating saws.

    Drills

    Criminals often utilize drilling as a breakin method. You want to ensure that your high security lock has set screws and a shear line protected with hardened ball bearings, and/or rotating anti-drill plates to help protect them from the risk of being drilled.

    Key Control

    You want to ensure that you buy a high security lock that has patented keyways in order to maintain key control and reduce the amount of people that might be able to use your lock. You’re definitely going to want to know the right way to hide your spare keys (not under your mats!) but it definitely is an essential to ONLY EVER use locks that have special patented keyways.

    Bypassing

    High security locks should never have bypass methods like thumbturns - they are simply easy entry methods, and basically allow for the canceling out of the complex security enforcing structure of a lock allowing potential burglars to exploit a lock’s weakness. Make sure to research whether or not the high security lock that you are using has a bypass method.

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  • Lost House Key Strategies

    Posted on February 18th, 2018 | 0 Comments

    [caption id="attachment_1016" align="alignnone" width="1088"]Young sad woman lost her house keys. Girl sits in front of the door Young sad woman lost her house keys. Girl sits in front of the door[/caption]

    The expert residential locksmiths at Chicago Locksmiths regularly perform lockout services for our valued customers. There’s a few strategies, however, that homeowners can tackle when trying to regain entry into their homes that can be attempted before contacting a locksmith. In this blog post, we’ll detail what the first steps you should take are for when you experience a lockout.

    Finding Spare Keys

    If you have a pair of spare keys in your possession - or perhaps if a friend, family member, super, or property manager does - try and retrieve it. It’s always a good idea to leave a spare house key to a trusted neighbor to watch over for this exact reason. Sometimes other people hide spare keys on their property (although we advise really making sure that you hide them in a secure spot that burglars wouldn’t be able to find.) If you have spare keys anywhere, try and find them.

    Other Entry Modes

    There’s usually other ways into homes besides the front door (for better or worse.) If you find yourself locked out, look to see if any of your windows are open, unlocked, and accessible, or if your back door is open. In these cases you might be hoping for an easy alternative entry method - and if there is, it will serve you well in this time. But after getting in and getting your keys back, make sure to copy spare keys so you don’t find yourself in this situation again, and also make sure to plug up these holes in your home security so that burglars can’t enter your home the same way that you just did.

    Door Circumvention

    Try slipping a tool through the gap of the door to manipulate the interior thumbturn latch to open up the door. This won’t work with doors that have double sided deadbolts, and care should be taken not to push the door or lock out of alignment. If this won’t work, see if this strategy could work with any sort of windows or back doors if those are also not open - but be careful not to damage your locks with this too.

    Contacting a Professional Locksmith

    If you find that none of the above strategies work, contact Chicago Locksmiths. Our team can use the best methods to find you lockout solutions, whether it be making you a brand new working key, opening your door with bump keys or lock picks, or repairing your broken or malfunctioning locks. Contact us today.

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  • Reasons Not To Break Into Your Own Car During A Lockout

    Posted on February 23rd, 2018 | 0 Comments

    Picture this scenario if you will: you’ve just finished a long day of work or grocery shopping, and find that you’ve accidentally locked yourself out of your car. This is a stressful situation made even more aggravating if you’ve had a long day or happen to be parked in the middle of nowhere - and if you find yourself in it, you might be finding yourself stressed over figuring out a way to get yourself into your car as soon as possible. This is never a good approach. The automotive lockout experts at Chicago Locksmiths have prepared a short list on the top reasons NOT to attempt to break into your own car during a lockout; instead, contact our team to get instant, safe assistance with your car lockout problem.

    Physical Danger

    Amateur attempts at car unlocking or key retrieval could lead to physical harm from tools like crowbars or flat headed screwdrivers. Prying doors requires a great deal of force, and of course, when you’re working with industrial metal there’s almost always a risk. Don’t compound your stress over a lockout by risking physical injury.

    Damage to your Vehicle

    You will likely break your vehicle’s door lock, window mechanism, or even the window pane itself! At the very least, you’re highly likely to scratch up your car’s paint job or dent it’s body - both of which aren’t exactly cheap fixes. Don’t risk it.

    Legal Issues

    Passersby might assume that you aren’t the owner of the car, and that you’re a car thief. If a cop sees you or is summoned to your location, they might think so as well - and if your registration or wallet is in the car, you have no way to prove that it’s yours until you retrieve it. Factoring in the high levels of stress and tension you already feel, it’s just not a good idea to get the police involved.

    Criminal Vulnerability

    By being stranded outside your car, you are vulnerable to the advances of burglars or potential carjackers who are way less worried about the costs of breaking through your car’s windows. If you’re left locked out and feel unsafe, call Chicago Locksmiths for instant assistance.

    It’s Just Not Easy for Amateurs

    Most recently made cars are outfit with anti theft technology that poses a great advantage to automobile owners - this technology makes it much harder for amateurs to get inside a locked car, so even if you try try and try, and don’t damage yourself or your car, it’s unlikely that you’ll ever be able to get in without the assistance of someone like the expert lock technicians employed by Chicago Locksmiths

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  • Shed Lock Options

    Posted on January 23rd, 2018 | 0 Comments

    Do you want to maintain your Chicago home security, or that of your business? Doing so includes ensuring that all areas of your property are secure, including outdoor sheds. Regardless of the specific use or purpose of your shed, they all require the security that strong locks provide - but choosing the proper one can be complicated. Here's a guide from the expert residential locksmith at Chicago Locksmiths on how to choose the best type of shed lock.

    Padlocks

    Padlocks are usually used on sheds, since any size or shape of door can be fitted with a padlock with the assistance of a hasp. Once a shed door has a hasp in place, all you need is a working padlock - but it’s still necessary to make sure the hasps themselves are secure. Make sure to inspect the hasp once the door is secure - the hasp should never show any of its screws. If the hasp isn’t secure, it won’t make any difference what type of shed locks you have. Since the shed is outdoors, you also want to ensure that you have a hasp or lock that can withstand weathering. Locks or bolts that are rusted can cause sheds to be vulnerable, so make sure that you get a weatherproof padlock.

    Deadbolts

    Deadbolts aren’t always ideal choices for shed locks. It’s slim chances that you have the proper kind of door or door jamb for the correct installation of a deadbolt. But, sometimes garden sheds or similar structures can have normal door locks. If this is the type of structure that you’re working with you can look for garden shed deadbolts - but the door has to be thick enough to handle a strike plate to secure the deadbolt itself. You will have to cross bore into the shed’s door; remember, that a deadbolt is only useful when it is properly installed.

    Rim Latches

    The majority of shed doors are too thin for deadbolts, but you might be able to use a rim lock (or rim latch) even if the door is thin, making them a widely used option for shed locks. Rim latch hardware can be positioned outside of the door itself on the inside of the shed - however, in order to use them you will need to make sure the shed door lock is secured on the crossbeam on the door’s framework. Just keep in mind that if the door itself is incredibly thin, it may interfere with the efficacy of any type of shed door lock that you choose to use, as something as simple as blunt force can damage it.

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  • Car Security Tips

    Posted on January 23rd, 2018 | 0 Comments

    Chicago Locksmiths excels at providing vehicular locksmith services to the entirety of the Windy City. In order to do so, we need to be experts at all aspects of car security. Here’s a brief guide prepared by our expert locksmiths on how to ensure that your cars are protected from theft.

    Keeping Doors Locked

    Make sure that your car doors are locked at all times including when you are driving. Car doors cannot be broken through with the exact same methods that door locks can be, but that doesn’t mean that car thieves don't’ have a ton of tricks up their sleeves to steal your vehicle. There’s many car thieves that are crafty and pay attention to every opportunity they have to steal a car, including car jacking, so make sure your doors are always locked.

    Never Leave your Car Fully Unattended

    Try to park in well lit areas where they will always be in somebody's line of sight, as car thieves usually prefer to attempt stealing cars parked in isolated areas where their actions aren’t visible.

    Don’t leave your car idly running

    Car thieves often wait for an opportunity where they find a car idly running as it’s one of the smoothest ways to jack a car. Make sure to adopt the practice of turning your vehicle off and stowing all your property away if you’re moving away from your car at any moment- and make sure to take the keys with you!

    Roll up your windows

    Windows are one of the most common access points for car thieves, so make sure that they are always rolled all the way up when your vehicle is parked. This is a big mistake, as it gives thieves direct entrance to your cars, where if given enough time they can forcibly start the car’s engine.

    Car Alarms

    Make sure that you have a car alarm installed or already present in your vehicle to help notify you or anyone in the vicinity of your vehicle that something shady might be going on. Most modern cars have keyless entry remotes paired with alarms - and you can even improve security through the use of a cruciform lock.

    Route Planning

    Make sure to have a vague idea of what your route getting to destinations are so that you are more prepared, and can be protected from the eventuality of a car thief catching you off guard when you’re stranded in a weird area trying to figure out directions. Of course, it isn’t always possible to have a detailed itinerary planned, but you really should do so when you can.

    Car Maintenance

    Make sure that your car’s door locks - and the lock’s cylinders, alarm systems, key fobs, and linked alarm systems are working properly. Without proper maintenance, it’s likely that eventually one of these systems will require repair, and without maintenance, you won’t even know if this is the case. Make sure to pay attention to how various systems of your car work as they function.

    Don’t Keep Valuables visible in your car

    When parking or leaving your car for any amount of time, make sure to place all valuables or objects that could inspire or tempt a potential car thief in your car’s trunk so that they are not visible. Sometimes, car thieves will do so much as to smash a car’s window simply to access objects that they’ve visually clocked as profitable to steal.

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