Locksmith Plays Key Role In Home Invasion Security

A locksmith was hired to help gain access to a Northern Virginia home last Friday, which wouldn’t normally be news — only it turns out the house didn’t actually belong to the person who claimed to be (and, we suppose, actually was) locked out.

Police spokesperson Dustin Sternbeck told the blog Arlington Now that authorities found out about the incident when the locksmith’s suspicions were aroused:

After the locksmith allowed him to gain entry, the suspect rummaged through drawers to look for working keys and identification, said police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.
“That set off an internal alarm for the locksmith, who said he was going to contact ACPD if the suspect didn’t show proof he lived at the residence,” Sternbeck told ”That’s when the suspect fled on foot.”
It’s not unheard of for locksmiths to be unwitting partners in crime. Or at least in attempted crimes.

Some states have laws requiring those hiring the services of a locksmith to show proof that they are authorized to smith a particular lock. Ryan White, a locksmithing instructor at the Lockmasters Security Institute, tells HuffPost that “as a practice, we teach that even if it’s not state law it’s a good practice” to require customers to show a bill or some other document that links them to the address they’d like to enter.

“If they can’t tie themselves to that address, even after the door is open, we’d call 911,” White says, explaining that in his decades of work in the industry, he’s run across just a few cases of folks with nefarious goals, and that “in all incidents it was domestic.”

Mike Groves, CEO of Arlington-based Federal Lock & Safe, says that Virginia is one of those states without a such a law, but that it’s “basically common sense,” and his company’s policy, to require ID. “If you can’t adhere to our policies, you just don’t open the door,” he says.

Groves says he hasn’t come across a lot of people trying to break into homes, but hinted at some other exciting scenarios he’s witnessed, working in the D.C. area.

“Drunken congressmen,” he says, “All kinds of stuff in this town. It’s funny.”

As for the recent criminal event, one Arlington Now commenter adjudged it a complete success:

Look, everyone in this story did exactly what they were supposed to. The burglar was acting like a burglar. And the locksmith was acting like any locksmith would under the circumstances (cautiously proceeding with the understanding that the “homeowner” would show proof of residence once inside). Good job all around.
Maybe save a little of the praise — or heap a little extra on the suspect, who, Sternbeck tells HuffPost, is “still at large.”

We always make sure to ask for proper Identification before we provide you any service!


Locksmith Price Switch Scam – 24/7 Waikiki Lock Doc Honolulu, HI

Dozens of North Texans said they were locked out of their homes and then fell victim to a bad locksmith.
The Better Business Bureau gives Avenue Locksmith an “F,” but when it’s the middle of night — and you have somehow locked yourself out of your car or home, customers say it’s easy to fall for false promises.
(credit: CBS 11 News)
(credit: CBS 11 News)
When Jarryd Maxwell locked his keys in his car in Arlington, he said it took just 30 seconds for Avenue Locksmith to open the door. But then came the bill.
“I was actually shocked when they told me it’d be $120 versus $50.”
Anna Prieto said a man from the same company demanded $350 dollars, which was seven times the price she was quoted on the phone.
When she told him she didn’t have that much in cash, the locksmith started pressing.
“‘Well what do you have? How much money do you have on you?’” she said he asked.
(credit: CBS 11 News)
(credit: CBS 11 News)
The Better Business Bureau received 39 complaints against Avenue Locksmith showing a pattern of customers lured in by low quotes, then hit with a price increase.
Customers also found the company goes by different names and lists various different addresses.
State records show it’s run from an apartment in Dallas. CBS 11 paid a visit, but no one answered the door.
Prieto said she might have paid more attention to online reviews in different circumstances.
“I was in a hurry. I was tired. It was cold outside. I just wanted to go get in bed.”
Maxwell believes the company may purposely target the vulnerable.
“People are willing to pay almost anything when they’re in trouble.”
CBS 11 tried repeatedly to contact the company, but never heard back.
The Better Business Bureau suggests if you don’t already know a good locksmith, get a recommendation and keep that number on you for emergencies.


$19 Service Fee Scam

Beware of the Locksmith Scam for a $19 service fee. This scam is all over the United States. This company offers a $19 service to get scam you into buying their services. Their locksmiths aren’t qualified, they are trained to get the most out of the job. Which is why you end up getting charged in the hundreds. They show up in unmarked vehicles, and will always charge you more than they advertise. Check out this story in Texas.

A Katy woman turned to KPRC 2 for help after she says she locked her keys in her car, called a locksmith advertising a $19 fee, only to end up paying nearly $200.

Lindsey Kern says she contacted a service she found through a Google search, called “24/7 Quick Pick Locksmith Services.”

“I Googled ‘Locksmith.’ The first thing that I saw, it said $19,” said Kern. “When the guy showed up 20 minutes later, he quoted me $165 plus the $19.”

A dispatcher with “24/7 Quick Pick Locksmith Services” told KPRC 2 they charge customers $19 as a service call to send a technician out to take a look at the problem.

According to that dispatcher, the technician then decides how much to charge the customer for the labor.

Kern’s receipt indicates she was charged $165 for labor and $20 for the service call.

She is now warning others to do more research before hiring someone who could charge more than expected.

KPRC 2 requested to speak with a company supervisor but had not been contacted by one as of Thursday night.


The Key to Safety

Lynchburg, VA – We all want to be safe in our homes.But new technology could be making it much more difficult to keep our homes secure, sometimes turning the very items we use to keep threats out against us.

Think you know what copying keys looks like?

Think again. The internet makes copying a key essentially just a few clicks away. All you have to do is take pictures of the key and through an app, companies like Keys Duplicated can make a copy and deliver it right to you.

The cost is dependent on the company, but ranges from $6 to $10. Other apps like KeyMe will digitized your key, giving you a code to take to a locksmith to duplicate.

No key necessary.

“It does make people vulnerable,” Lynchburg Police lieutenant Malcolm Booker.

John Hawkins is a trained locksmith and owner of Hawkins Lock & Key, a mom-and-pop shop in the Hill City. His business has been duplicating keys the old-fashioned way for 65 years. Hawkins says “it doesn’t take but a minute or two to cut a key.”

He’s not sure of this new, digital approach. When asked why he thought someone would rather copy keys online than go to a local locksmith, especially if they’re locked out of their home, Hawkins said he didn’t “see any reason why they would.”

But Keys Duplicated co-founder Jordan Meyer says business is good.

“We’ve seen that people really value not only the convenience of being able to order keys, kind of wherever they are, but also just that piece of mind knowing that they have a back-up, a digital back-up of the keys,” said Meyer

ABC 13 news reporter Kody Leibowitz copied one of his keys, a mailbox key, through Keys Duplicated’s app. He took two pictures, entered his name and email address and hit send.

Five business days later, the key arrived. Convenient? Maybe. But what if he took pictures of someone else’s key? Or if a thief took a picture of his key while he wasn’t looking?

“There’s always security concerns for anything stored online but what we try to do is really get rid of the information that can be identifiable, especially names and addresses where these keys are being shipped,” said Meyer.

When we tested the new mail key, it didn’t work.

“Sometimes the smaller mailbox keys are difficult,” wrote Meyer in an email, “because there is a ‘reverse’ blank that the computer misses.”

He also said that same thing could happen at any hardware store. But other news stations were apparently luckier with their attempts and opening doors with duplicate keys they had made online.

“We have a couple of things internally that we look for just to try to screen keys that look like they might be taken in a suspicious fashion,” said Meyer. “In the end we can’t necessarily protect against copying against somebody else’s key, in fact that is something that is legal to do just like you make a copy of a key when you’re a renter though you don’t own that rental unit.”

“That’s certainly where law enforcement is concerned about this new technology. The possibility of it being used for those reasons, for criminal,” said Booker.

The best advice: protect your keys.

“If it’s a deep concern, you can always buy a patented key security lock where nobody can make a copy of the key even if they have the key,” said Hawkins.

“Treat your keys like you would any other sensitive information like a password and social security number. Keep them in your pocket. Don’t wear them on karabiner or outside your jeans. Don’t leave them on your desk,” said Meyer.

“It only takes a split second for someone to take advantage of that,” said Booker.

Another way inside your home is through your own security cameras. Hackers can tap right into live camera feeds and even send the footage straight to the worldwide web for all to see. Insecam housed more than 70,000 unsecured webcams worldwide, more than 11,000 in the US, as reported during a November ABC News Special Report.

The owner shut the site down a day later. But that doesn’t mean the threat is gone. Hackers are still out there and homeowners often help them, by using their default logins and passwords, some as easy as admin-admin.

If you haven’t changed the password, extremely easy. I mean just a matter of them finding it and poking around until they find one and once they do, it’s just simply logging in the default password,” said Lonnie Rose of Rose Computers. “If you’re setting up a camera yourself, be sure to change the log-in name and password and use a secure password like you would for your computer or internet access device.”

Lt. Booker says that there hasn’t been any known incident of someone abusing either technology in the area, hacking into security cameras or duplicating someone’s key online and subsequently breaking into that home. Still, as technology continues to advance, he says people need to be more aware of their surroundings and continue to take necessary steps to protect themselves.

Several various home safety tips from U.S. Department of State:

All entrances, including service doors and gates, should have quality locks–preferably deadbolt. Check your:

Front Door
Rear Door
Garage Door(s)
Service Door(s)
Patio Door
Sliding Glass Door
Swimming Pool Gate
Guest House Door(s).
Don’t leave keys “hidden” outside the home. Leave an extra key with a trusted neighbor or colleague.

Keep doors locked even when you or family members are at home.

Have window locks installed on all windows. Use them.

Lock louvered windows–especially on the ground floor.

Have locks installed on your fuse boxes and external power sources.
For even more tips to help protect yourself, check out some information from Allstate and


Locksmith Keying Options: Different Types of Keying Options

Different Types of Keying Options

Locks and keys have been around for centuries. The following are some examples of different types of keying options and how they work:

Different Types of Locks and Keys

Locks that are keyed differently provide an individual key for each locking mechanism and the keys cannot be used interchangeably. For example, if there were five separate locks, five different keys would be necessary; one to open each lock mechanism.

Replicate Keys

Lock mechanisms that are keyed or re-keyed alike allow for multiple doors to be opened with that one key. Regardless of the number of locks that exist, they can all be opened with the same key.

Master Keys

Locks that are master keyed are made to allow very specific access levels for many key holders. A master key system, such as this one can significantly lessen the number of keys that need to be made. A person can possess one key that will let him or her access multiple doors, rather than having to give a different key to the person for every door that he or she must open, one key can be made to access all of these doors. It’s a very convenient system that also allows a different person to be given an individual key that operates only one door. As an example, locks can be designed with a master key so that five doors can be opened with one key, but keys can also be made to only open one of the five doors. This is a prominent system in hotel industry where each guest has a specific key to a specific room, but the housekeeping staff can enter all the rooms with one key.

Construction Keying

This keying option uses many cylinders that are temporarily operational with a single key, which tends to be the case on new construction sites. During the process, all cylinders on the site can be operated with one key. Once the job is complete, a specific transitional key is inserted in the lock, which then changes the access options. This ultimately prohibits the master key that was used during the construction to work in the future.

Three-In-One Keying

Three-in-one keying allows a person to change a lock combination without assistance. This is very helpful when a person has lost his or her key, but immediate entrance is necessary. As its name implies, each three-in-one keyed device includes three different keys, which are typically red, yellow and green. Such devices work in the following way: the green key is initially used to open the lock, but if that key is lost, the user can turn the yellow key in the lock and gain entrance. This process in and of itself changes the combination of the lock so that it can no longer be accessed with the green key should the latter fall into the wrong hands. If a similar situation occurs in the future, one can simply repeat the process with the red key, thus rendering the yellow key ineffective.

This keying option allows a person to change lock combinations without any assistance. Sounds nice doesn’t it? This option is very helpful especially when a person has lost his or her key, and immediate entrance is necessary. As the name implies, these devices include three different keys, which typically come in colors: red, yellow, and green. Here’s how these devices work: The green key is generally used to open the lock, if that key is lost, the yellow key may be used to open the lock and gain entrance. When the yellow key is used to open the lock, the key changes the combination of the lock so that it can longer be accessed with the green, should it fall into the wrong hands. If a similar situation occurs, one can then simply repeat the process with the red key, rendering the yellow key useless. Pretty neat system if you ask us!

One Way Cylinder Keys

One-way cylinder keys are an option that includes: one key that can open the lock, one key that can secure the lock, and a third key that does both. This is an ideal option when the owner wants certain people in charge of unlocking and locking the door, but also wants certain individuals to be able to do both. If you’re interested in learning more about lock and key mechanisms contact a local locksmith service for more information!

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Rossen Reports redux: Some locksmiths still prey on the vulnerable

In November 2011, TODAY aired a Jeff Rossen hidden-camera investigation that revealed some locksmiths charging hundred of dollars for a simple job. Three years later, the Rossen Reports team set up the same scenario to see if things had changed.

Hidden cameras were installed at a suburban house in West Hempstead, New York. As in the 2011 investigation, a licensed locksmith installed simple locks on the home’s door, which he said any real locksmith would be able to pick easily. Posing as a homeowner locked out of their house in the rain, a TODAY producer summoned several locksmiths to the home,

Rather than picking the lock, the first locksmith drilled through it right away. He was happy to sell the faux homeowner a new one for $170. Afterward, when Rossen revealed himself and asked why the locksmith hadn’t tried to pick the lock first, he replied: “Because it was an emergency.”

The next locksmith also pulled out his drill, and ruined another lock. His price tag: $210. “Are you trying to rip this woman off?” Rossen asked him afterward.

“No I’m not. I cannot pick that lock,” the locksmith replied before speeding off.

In fact, nearly every locksmith who came charged more than $200. The last one tried to shimmy the door open without trying to pick the lock, then pulled out his drill. He charged a whopping $415.

“The lady is outside in pouring rain; you think I’m going to stand for half an hour trying to pick the lock?” the final locksmith asked Rossen afterward. “In the rain? ”

“You think it takes about half an hour to pick the lock?” Rossen replied. “We’re going to have our expert show you.”

Tom Lynch, founder of the Society of Professional Locksmiths, spent only five and a half minutes picking the lock. “Bottom line, consumers are being ripped off, and it’s troubling,” he told Rossen afterward. “[It’s] still a nationwide problem, Jeff. Nobody’s doing anything about it but you.”

Another issue raised by the investigation was security: Only one of the locksmiths asked if the homeowner even lived at the house. Experts say a locksmith shouldn’t open a single door without first verifying that the address of the house matches the supposed homeowner’s ID.

The best advice: Don’t wait until you need a locksmith to find one. Find a reputable company around your neighborhood and put their number in your phone; that way you have it when you need it.

Learn how to avoid locksmith scams from the Society of Professional Locksmiths.


Tips for finding a good locksmith!


Of course all of this directly correlates with us! Professional, affordable, trustworthy locksmith, The 24/7 Waikiki Lock Doc!

If you’ve ever locked yourself out of your car or home, you know what a hassle it can be. Your first thought is to get someone to help you out of your situation. If a family member or friend can’t deliver a spare set of keys, your next call might be to a local locksmith. But before you make that call, consider this: According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation’s consumer protection agency, some locksmiths advertising in your local telephone book may not be local at all. They may not have professional training. What’s more, some of them may use intimidating tactics and overcharge you.

When “Local” Is Really Long-Distance

Consider this scenario: A company far away from your town chooses a name for its business that is very similar to the name used by a local locksmith. The company advertises in the phone book or on the Web using a local telephone number and local address. When you call the number, you’re actually connected to a call center in another city. What’s more, there’s no locksmith shop at the address listed.

You may be quoted a price on the phone, but when the locksmith arrives, often in an unmarked vehicle, he may want significantly more money. The locksmith also may accept only cash.

Some who claim to be “local locksmith” companies have multiple listings (sometimes 30 or more separate listings in a single phone book) with different names. But the calls to each of these numbers go back to the same central number in a distant city where operators dispatch untrained individuals to do the job.

Tips for Picking a Locksmith

What’s the best way to pick a reputable locksmith? Consider researching locksmiths before you need one, the same way you would a plumber, electrician, or other professional. That works well if you’re looking to have some security work done at your home, like installing deadbolts on the exterior doors of your house, or a safe in your bedroom.

But if you’re dealing with an emergency, like being locked out of your car, you really don’t have much time for thorough research.
Regardless of whether you are locked out of your car or home, you need new locks installed, or you require other security work, the FTC offers these tips to help you hire a legitimate, local locksmith.

In emergency situations:

  • If you’re locked out of your car and have a roadside assistance service, call them first. These services sometimes are included with the purchase of a car, or as an add-on through your insurance company. You also can buy this service separately. Roadside assistance plans often have a list of pre-approved companies to perform services like unlocking cars, jump-starting batteries, changing flat tires, delivering gasoline, and towing.
  • Call family or friends for recommendations.
  • If you find a locksmith in the phone book, on the Internet, or through directory assistance, and a business address is given, confirm that the address belongs to that locksmith. Some disreputable companies list street addresses to give the impression that they’re local. But the addresses may belong to other businesses or vacant lots, if they exist at all. You can verify addresses through websites that allow you to match phone numbers with street addresses. Some legitimate locksmith companies may not include a street address in their listing either because they operate a “mobile” business or they operate their business out of their home and may be reluctant to list that address. If you call a locksmith who doesn’t list an address, ask why. If the answer is that it’s a “mobile” business, you will understand they have no storefront.
  • Write down the names of several businesses, their phone numbers, and addresses for future reference, in case you don’t want to go with the first locksmith you call.
  • If a company answers the phone with a generic phrase like “locksmith services,” rather than a company-specific name, be wary. Ask for the legal name of the business. If the person refuses, call another locksmith.
  • Get an estimate for all work and replacement parts from the locksmith before work begins. In cases of “lock-outs” (being locked out of your car or home), most legitimate locksmiths will give you an estimate on the phone for the total cost of the work.
    • Ask about additional fees before you agree to have the locksmith perform the work. Companies may charge extra for responding to a call in the middle of the night. Ask if there is a charge for mileage, or a minimum fee for a service call.
    • If the price the locksmith provides when he arrives doesn’t jibe with the estimate you got on the telephone, do not allow the work to be done.
    • Never sign a blank form authorizing work.
  • Find out if the locksmith is insured. If your property is damaged during a repair, or if faulty work leads to loss or damage, it’s important for the locksmith to have insurance to cover your losses.
  • When the locksmith arrives, ask for identification, including a business card and, where applicable, a locksmith license. Nine states require locksmiths to be licensed: Alabama, California, Illinois, Louisiana, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas. In addition to a business card, check to see if the invoice includes the company’s name, and whether the locksmith’s vehicle has a name that matches the business card, invoice, and/or bill.
  • Expect the locksmith to ask you for identification, as well. A legitimate locksmith should confirm your identity and make sure you’re the property owner before doing any work.
  • Some locksmiths will work out of a car for quick or emergency jobs, but most will arrive in a service vehicle that is clearly marked with their company’s name.
  • In the case of a lock-out, be cautious if you’re told up front that the lock has to be drilled and replaced. An experienced legitimate locksmith has invested in the tools and education to provide quality service, and can unlock almost any door.
  • After the work is completed, get an itemized invoice that covers parts, labor, mileage, and the price of the service call.

In situations where you have more time, check out locksmiths with your state Attorney General, local consumer protection agency, and the Better Business Bureau to make sure there are no unresolved complaints on file. This is true whether you need a locksmith for a one-time job, or you want to hire someone to work for you on a continuing basis. You must be able to trust your locksmith. You don’t want to give access to the locks for your home, car, or place of business to just anyone.

In Case There’s a Next Time

Once you’ve found a reputable locksmith, keep the company’s name and contact information in your wallet and address book at home or at work. You also may want to program this information into your home and cell phones. This can save you time and trouble the next time you need these services.


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We partner with expert technicians who carry the most up to date tools and computers in order to successfully carry out a wide range of lock and key requests. With the most sophisticated computer programming, technicians can replace chip keys, program transponder keys, and issue an ignition key replacement on the spot!