Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Home Security - Locks

There have been a lot of break-ins in my city recently thought I would share some suggestions on home security.

*Locks-  Locks are where most home owners strangely try to save a few bucks.  With all the lock picking videos on YouTube and easy availability of lock picks online that seems like a pretty bad idea.

Best Lock brand for residential-  Standard Schlage locks are a good all around lock, hard to pick (not impossible), they are robust and well made.  You can buy a six pin Schlage in a commercial rated lock which is a bit harder to pick than the standard 5 pin lock.  Also, most Schlage locks are equipped with pick resistant bump resistant top pins (there are top and bottom pins in modern locks). 

Budget Lock Residential- Defiant brand available at Home Depot and online.  Not near the lock above in quality, but if you are on a fixed income this is better than others.  They are 5 pin but have the bump resistant top pins.

High end Locks residential- Medeco, Assa, and MulTLok are the top 3 high end locks.  Available only through locksmith shops.  Top of the line drill resistant, extremely hard to pick and reliable.  Keys are controlled; means that someone tries to copy your key unbeknownst to you they cannot even through a lock shop.  These are expensive but worth it if your property is full of valuables.

Modified Locks- There are some decent restricted key locks out there like Schlage Everest that have a side bar inside, which makes picking and bumping very difficult.  They are also six pin.  You can buy them through a locksmith shop and install them yourself.  Keys are tough to copy, but not impossible.  This is the best compromise of all the above on quality, cost and protection.

Deadbolt tips-  Make sure your bolt throws all the way into the door jam/frame.  If it isn't throwing all the way with a slightly audible click or snap at the end it isn't locked and can be slid back open!!!  You can test this by staying in the house, locking the door and get a flashlight and a sharp thin ice pick.  Shine the light in the edge of the door until you see the bolt.  Slide the pick to the bolt and staring on the frame side, with some light force stick the pick into the metal of the bolt and try sliding it back toward the deadbolt lock. 

It may move a little and stop.... that is good.  If you can move it all the way back which may take a minute, it is not locking or throwing deep enough.  You may have to drill out the hole in the frame or adjust the strike plate so the bolt throws all the way.  Sometimes you might have to call a locksmith or handyman to fix it if you are having trouble. 

Knob & Lever handle tips-  Very similiar to the deadbolt, the strike plate on the frame facing the knob needs to be positioned to allow the deadlatch feature to lock the latch bolt.  Try opening the door, and look closely at the latch bolt.  If you have the correct type there are actually 2 bolts that look like can take a small pick or screwdriver and spring the smaller of the two into the latch without moving the main large latch with the curve.  That little bolt is the deadlatch.  If you push the dead latch in and then try to move the main latch it should only move slightly and stop. 

Close your door, and with a flashlight on the interior of the door, shine the light at the knob latch and see if the deadlatch is being sprung in when the door is closed.  To really test it, go outside (during daytime!) and get an old stiff plastic credit card and a pair of needle nose or regular pliers.  Without locking the deadbolt, try to "credit card" your knob/lever....grab the card with the pliers and try to forcibly wedge the card between the frame and the latch.  If you succeed and the door opens or you can pull/push it open when the card is inserted it is NOT deadlatching.  A deadlatch working correctly will stop a "credit card" attack cold in its tracks.

Key Control-  Simply put control access to your keys as if it was the pin number to your bank account.  Don't leave keys laying around or hang them on key racks next to the door.  This is a bad practice and should NEVER be done.  Also, when going to the mechanic, take your house key off the ring and only give them the car keys.  Lastly, don't give keys to neighbors in case you get locked out and don't "hide" them under the mat or in the yard in the fake sprinkler head.  This is common knowledge and easy to spot.

Buy a Supra push button armored key box, mount it to the garage or solid post facing away from the street and hidden.  Use a good 5 digit code that is random (not your house number, SS #, or cell phone digits) and keep a spare key there.  The cheap lock boxes are easy to open, but the Supra box is very tough.

Rocky Mountain Security Group

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Automotive Locksmith: All about replacement car keys

Courtesy of Rocky Mountain Security Group ph. 303-424-4942

Classic Car Keys: Classic Car Keys are keys made by locksmiths from the 1940’s to the 1980’s. Most professional locksmiths can make a key for the car by impressioning the ignition or by reading the ignition. We can also make a working key from a broken or worn key. Many of these keys are available; just contact us if you need a key.

Motorcycle Keys: Most lost motorcycle keys can be made by a quality locksmith. We can use the ignition method mentioned above as well as reading the ignition and other methods. If you have a lost or broken key for your motorcycle please give us a call! Examples are Yamaha, Honda, and Suzuki motorcycles.

Modern Car Keys: Many modern car keys from the 1980’s until 2000 can be made fairly easy by a top-notch locksmith. These key blanks are readily available, and can be made to replace lost or broken car keys for many foreign and domestic models. Some vehicles from this time period have a separate key for the door locks, trunk, and glove box. We can help you with your replacement key!

Transponder Keys: This encompasses transponder keys, chip keys and VATS keys. These keys require a special programming device so that they will work with your specific vehicle. Not every locksmith can replace these keys due to the expensive equipment. We can program keys, copy keys, or originate keys. Keys can also be made to just unlock doors. Also, we can make a working key from a broken or worn key. Just call us for prices!

Factory Remote Programming: Replacement remotes can be programmed and replaced. We can special order many brands and makes of remote or we can program the remote you have already. Contact us for help with remote programming. We can help with many makes including Ford, Chevrolet, GM, Chrysler, and many foreign/imports.

If you have further questions about replacement car keys please contact:

Rocky Mountain Security Group

For emergency service call 720-663-7674

We serve Denver, Boulder and most of the Rocky Mountain Front Range.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Home Security Tips by a Locksmith

As a Locksmith and Security System installer I typically get two types of calls from homeowners.

The first type is the "price shopper" who knows that their home needs some security upgrade like a deadbolt for instance. However, they are some times reluctant to spend money and they may feel that they are being paranoid. Many times after speaking with the homeowner on the phone they insist that the area they live in is very safe and that their neighbors are always home so they don't worry too much about break-ins.

The second type of homeowner that calls is the victim of a home burglary. They want to repair the damage from the break-in and also upgrade their security. Of course, I also get other phone calls but for simplicity we will stick to the two types listed above. Basically we have a "price shopper" and the "victim" types of callers.

The "price shopper" is easy for us to relate to. We all want a good deal, and we don't want to be accused of being paranoid by friends and family. Generally the price shopper either has locks that need repair or service, or they are aware of a hole in their current perimeter security. Sometimes I get the impression that the "price shopper" wants to be reassured that their current security is satisfactory. This of course I do not do until after I have performed a site inspection!

It is more complicated to relate to the "victim" as many of us have not been the victim of a burglary or break-in. I know quite a few people who have had close calls when it comes to a burglary or theft, or they have lost something in a minor crime that was not really that valuable to them. Another factor is that we sometimes insulate ourselves from crimes so that we don't worry or upset our family by focusing on negative things. It is a sad fact to accept, but houses get burglarized every day.

Rather than go into a statistical analysis of property crime, or argue about the safety of the area they live in I simply offer to perform a security evaluation of the customer's home. Whether "victim" or "price shopper" I offer the customer a security evaluation and generally spend about 30 minutes with them and make suggestions. Many of my suggestions are do-it-yourself type of suggestions but some require the use of a locksmith or handyman. These evaluations are sometimes called a "Threat Assessment". There are no obligations to use my service when I perform an evaluation, but my services are available if the customer decides to follow through on the suggestions later.

Below is a list of the most often suggested tips I give to homeowners.

  • Provide the outdoor perimeter of your home with plenty of lighting.
  • Trim back bushes and trees to limit hiding spots for a potential burglar.
  • Keep the yard tidy and remove any junk or clutter.
  • Cut up large boxes from major purchases instead of placing them by the trash. This is usually a tip to a burglar to target your new TV!
  • Use signage like "No Trespassing", "Beware of Dog", and Alarm signs or decals to deter criminals who may be profiling your home for a crime.


  • Close curtains and blinds to prevent observation into your home.
  • Lock windows when leaving home for even short amounts of time.
  • Purchase dowels or thumb turn window locks for windows that have a lack or a poor quality of lock mechanism.
  • Consider using a window film that makes glass more difficult to break.
  • Replace screens when they become damaged or are falling out of the window frame.
  • Limit access to windows by locking up maintenance ladders, chairs, and tools.


  • Make sure every exterior door has a deadbolt properly installed.
  • Make sure the door jamb is reinforced with wood and long screws. This is usually the critical weak point when a door is pried or kicked in.
  • Glass sliding doors should have a dowel placed in the frame to prevent opening. There are products available for this often referred to as "Charlie Bars".
  • Consider replacing screen doors with security doors made of steel or iron.
  • Replace screens on all screen doors, insure locks are functional, and you might also replace screen door glass with "Pyrex" or "Lexan" glass.

Keys and Key Control:

  • Never give out a spare key to a neighbor. Place spare keys in locking boxes mounted to a door or garage. These are often called "Realtor Boxes" and they lock the key in an armored box only opened with a numerical code.
  • Never leave your house keys unattended, or on the key chain when you have work done on your vehicle.
  • Never leave keys in the open when shopping, socializing, or visiting friends or co-workers.
  • Always carry a spare house key or car key in your wallet or pocket-book.
  • Consider keying your doors alike except for one door used only by the baby sitter, cleaning staff, or delivery workers. Then if this person is let go from service you are only paying a locksmith to rekey one door rather than ALL of your exterior doors.

Other Security tips for the Home:

  • All doors should have a peep-hole viewer or camera to identify visitors prior to opening the door.
  • Consider adding a locking mail drop box to prevent mail theft.
  • Firearms and important documents should be locked in a quality safe or lock box. The safe should be bolted down or otherwise tethered to prevent theft of the entire container during a break-in.
  • Consider adding a basic burglary alarm system that communicates with an alarm monitoring Central Station.
  • CCTV or surveillance cameras are becoming easier to install and more affordable. Consider adding a system as they are excellent deterrents and can often help identify an intruder when viewed after the crime.
  • Review your insurance coverage with your insurance agent to make sure you are protected for all of the valuables in your home. (Alarm systems are a great way to get a discount on your home owners or renters insurance.)
  • Record to video media all of your personal property; especially collectables, jewelry, firearms and other items. Keep this video media (DVD, CD, Thumb Drive, Tape, etc.) in a safe, or in a safe deposit box off site.
  • Mark your property with a unique mark or name with a scratch pen to easily identify your goods if they are recovered later.

As far as the two types of callers, my opinion as a Locksmith and Security Professional is that as a "price shopper" this person is on the road to making a good decision regarding their home security. They are aware of a need and are moving forward on it, sometimes with a gentle nudge in the right direction. If a caller is a victim of a burglary, I request that they please teach what they have learned to family and friends. This information from a respected peer can make a difference, and can prepare them to take steps toward crime prevention n their home.

In closing, please consider these tips regardless if you rent or own your current home. Do not assume that the current security features of your home are satisfactory. Have a security professional evaluate your home security. Every home can benefit from a security evaluation, and the peace of mind that comes with one is worth the time and effort. Discuss home security with all of your family members and other occupants to develop a plan for upgrading security and establishing a protocol to utilize during an emergency or crime.

To set up a security evaluation of your home in Colorado please contact:

Rocky Mountain Security Group