Category Archives: Home Safety

Vacation time is break-in time

You’ve been working hard all year and are looking forward to some well deserved time off…

…a little bit of preparation before you start vacation will help keep your property safe. Whether it’s going on a cruise or visiting family and friends back home, packing your suitcase isn’t the only thing you need to do before you leave. Making sure that your home is safe and secure while you’re away is on the top of the agenda.
Keep burglars out

Here are three tips on what to do before you start your vacation:

  1. Eliminate “weak spots” –
    Often burglars get access to your home through patio doors and windows that face the back of the house. Trim back shrubs and greenery around windows and doors and secure patio doors with a safety bar to kep the door from sliding horizontally. These bars are usually mounted on the door jamb opposite the sliding door panel. Most of them come with a retaining bracket to keep the bar out of the way when not being used.
  2. Let the uninvited guests know that someone is there –
    Most burglaries occur in houses that give the impression of being unoccupied. Avoid anything that could indicate that you’re on vacation. Ask your neighbor to bring in your mail and newspaper, or stop newspaper delivery all together for the time that you’re away. Turn your lights and TV on with an automatic timer, but let yor neighbor know that this is planned, otherwise they might call the police when they hear noise coming from your house. Don’t ever announce on your voice mail or on social media that you’re on a trip.
  3. Get a living and breathing alarm system –
    Your immediate neighbors are your best security. One of the neighbors can collect your mail but all of your neighbors can keep an eye out for any suspicious activity around your property. As a rule burglars tend to keep a property of interest under surveillance before they strike. A neighbor will notice if somebody is sitting in a parked car in front of your house all day and can notify the police.

Jim Arsenault is a Connecticut licensed Master Locksmith with over 30 years experience. He can help you make your Connecticut home more secure. Email Jim or give him a call at 860-678-9797.

Image courtesy of West Midlands Police, West Midlands, UK, released under the Creative Commons License.

Spring check, are your locks in good shape?

spring lock checkAfter a long hard winter here in the Northeast, spring is finally on our doorsteps. In many homes spring cleaning is in progress and it’s probably a good idea to also check the door locks on your property. It just might be time to say “out with the old, in with the new.”

Locks are mechanical wonders. A well maintained lock can do its duty over hundreds, even thousand of years. But even for an old lock that protected valuables or properties over long periods comes the time when it should be replaced with a newer model. But when is this time?

The simple answer: if the lock can’t measure up to modern security demands anymore it’s time. Locks that show wear and tear are a good example. Often burglars find it easy to gain access to a house with simple household tools such as a screwdriver and hammer if the locking mechanism is damaged. The intruder applies force to the lock, thereby removing the outside part and exposes the lock. Now there’s easy access to the lock and it can be tampered with which allows the door to be unlocked very easily. In that case it’s definitely time to swap the old lock for a new one.

Another reason would be if the look is really old – it’s often almost impossible to make a copy of the key. And we all know that spells trouble if there’s only one key remaining and it goes missing.

If you’re not sure if your lock still holds up to protecting your valuables and you’re thinking about upgrading to a newer model please contact Jim. He’d be happy to discuss all the available options, from your standard deadbolt lock to keyless entry systems. Call at Jim Arsenault at 860-678-9797 or email him. Jim is a Master Locksmith with over 30 years experience and licensed in Connecticut.

Tips for snowbirds

CT residential locksmithDuring this time of the year the northeastern part of the United States is still battling freezing cold temperatures along with snow and ice. Who can blame us if we dream about taking a break and escape to a warm and sunny location, even if it’s just for a week or two. But before you pack your bags and drive to Florida, hop on a flight to California or another warm-weather location make sure to winterize your home so you won’t come back to the unpleasant surprise of burst pipes or a break-in.

Before rushing out the door:

  1. Make sure your house is locked at all entry points. High quality locks for your doors and windows are a must.
  2. Install slide locks on sliding glass doors.
  3. Make it look like someone is in the house in the evening. It’s easy to do with timers that are set to turn on lights automatically at different times.
  4. Arrange for a neighbor or snow removal service to clear snow from your driveway, sidewalk and walkway.
  5. Leave your thermostat set at 55 degrees or higher to avoid frozen pipes.
  6. Shut off water to the washing machine and dishwasher to avoid leaks and broken hoses while you’re away.
  7. Shut off outdoor faucets to prevent freezing damage.
  8. Give an emergency key to a relative, friend or trusted neighbor and ask them to keep an eye on your home and also be available in case of an emergency. During extreme cold weather have them also check for ice dams.
  9. Leave a list with contact information for local service companies (electrician, locksmith, plumber, etc.) you trust and have worked with before.
  10. Do not post your vacation plans on Facebook, Twitter, etc. Criminals are looking for this type of information on social media sites.

With these precautions in place you don’t have to worry about your property and can enjoy your winter getaway.

Jim is a Connecticut licensed Master Locksmith with over 30 years experience. He’ll help you get the right locks for your Connecticut home. Simply email or give him a call at 860-678-9797.

Keep guns securely stored

gun safetyGun ownership has increased nationwide in recent years, there are almost 1.2 million concealed weapon-permit holders across the United States. Yet many homeowners fail to properly secure their weapons and/or don’t record their weapons’ serial number. Because of that they unknowingly contribute to a black market of basically untraceable guns.

Authorities are seeing more guns on the streets, most of these weapons taken during burglaries from residential homes. Many of these guns end up in the hands of criminals. Firearm thefts are a great concern to police since guns taken during a break-in most likely end up being involved in more crimes. Stolen guns are also a lucrative business and are easy to sell. Often burglars target homes specifically looking for firearms of all types.

Police recommend that gun owners invest in quality gun locks and store weapons in a gun safe. This is the most secure storage option available to a firearms owner. A locked safe will prevent a gun from being handled and loaded thereby making it an effective theft deterrent. Gun safes come with a wide variety of features, locking systems and price ranges.

Jim is a Connecticut licensed Master Locksmith with over 30 years experience. He’ll repair your locks or install a new lock at your Connecticut home or business. Simply email or give him a call at 860-678-9797.

What is a bump key and should you be concerned?

bumping keyPin tumbler design locks are probably the most popular locks in the world. These types of locks come in different sizes and finishes, can be used in exterior and interior doors, and they’re suitable for residential and commercial applications. They can also be picked quite easily with a “bump key,” sometimes also called a “999 key,” which is a normal key cut to a specific code that can then be used as a lock picking tool.

What exactly is key bumping? describes the technique in this way:

“The term “bumping” refers to the process of forcing the key to interact with the pin tumblers by “bumping” or rapping it with a plastic mallet while it is inserted into the lock. This process entails hitting the head of the key, causing it to rapidly move forward. When the key is struck correctly, each of the bottom pins is “bumped” upward for a brief instant, thus allowing the lock to be opened.”

Bump keys are nothing new. They have for many years been part in a variety of techniques used by legitimate master locksmiths to open locks that are malfunctioning or in instances where the key was lost. Professional and ethical locksmiths did not share this technique with the public.

So what’s the commotion all about then? In 2005, after a television program demonstrated the technique, the video ended up on the internet for anyone to see and by now there are many more videos available on this topic – making it extremely easy for criminals to learn about key bumping and how it’s done.

Should you be concerned? Standard pin tumbler locks offer very little resistance to key bumping, if you have a standard lock contact us. Higher security grade locks offer better protection, but they are not 100% secure if a burglar really wants to get in. Electronic and magnetic locks offer the best protection, a bump key cannot be used with these types of locks.

Finally, key bumping involves a lot of banging and is pretty noisy. Chances are that a burglar will not opt for this method to break into a residence when people are at home or neighbors are within earshot.

Have a question about the effectiveness of your pin tumbler locks in your CT residence or business? Email Jim Arsenault or call him at 860-678-9797.