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Of Barn Doors And Horses

Written by NYC Locksmith on . Posted in Locksmith Articles

There’s nothing more important to most people than protecting their family. The safety of your loved ones, your sweetheart or husband or wife or children, matters more than money, status, or the kind of car you drive. After all, if your loved ones aren’t safe, do material things really count for that much?

Many years ago, I lived in a brownstone in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn. It was a neighborhood “in transition” in those years, and we were diligent about locking up. But one night I woke up at 3:00 a.m., startled to find a flashlight shining in my eyes. It was a police officer, and when my sweetheart and I sat up in bed, he whispered to us to be silent, then quickly told us what was going on.

A fireman at the firehouse across the street had happened to see someone climb through our first floor window and alerted the police, who had hurried over without sirens, entered the same way, and were now searching the house.Upstairs, they caught the man in the landlady’s bedroom – holding her at knifepoint while he prepared to rape her. The knife was from my kitchen.


The next year we moved to SoHo in lower Manhattan. The first thing we did was install a new, high-security cylinder lock and a police lock on the door to the second floor loft. Since there was no way to reach the windows, we felt much safer. One evening four or five years later, I came home from my job in midtown and couldn’t understand why my keys wouldn’t work. I turned the cylinder, felt the bolt move, unlocked the
police lock, but I couldn’t budge the door. Something was very strange. Finally, I realized that I was locking the door, not unlocking it! vWhen I walked in, I knew that my instinct that something was wrong had been right. I saw in an instant that my home had been burglarized. The thieves had climbed up and in through the back window (which faced an alley), using the skylight of the ground-floor apartment to reach the second floor. Somehow, they hadn’t broken a single pane of glass during their climb. Then they forced the window and, once inside, rifled our belongings at their leisure.I called the police, of course, and New York’s finest arrived quickly and set to work. One dusted for fingerprints while the other walked through the loft with me as we took inventory. Missing were two TVs, a $600 VCR, all my videotapes, some cash, and . . . a suitcase! The detectives recognized the signature style of a pair of burglars working the neighborhood: they always took things they could put in the suitcase and carry out without attracting attention, and they’d probably walked out with the loot in broad daylight, just as though it belonged to them.

We were unharmed and grateful, but it’s still devastating to know that strangers have been inside your home, poking through your drawers, rifling your papers as they look for cash, touching your belongings. Those two experiences made me feel – though I don’t pretend that it’s anything like the same thing – as though I had, somehow, been raped. Violated. Sullied.

Both times, I thought our home was well protected. I had put quality locks on the doors, and in Brooklyn we had three doors to protect: the main entrance at the top of the steps, the lower door to the “garden apartment,” which was part of our duplex, and, of course, the door to the garden in back. The ground floor windows were all barred, and nobody could – I believed – climb up to the second floor and get in. I believed the same thing about SoHo.

Both times, the locks worked exactly as they were meant to. Nobody got in through a locked door. But clearly, those locks weren’t enough. Like the proverbial barn without a horse, the brownstone duplex and the second-floor SoHo loft both needed window gates for real security.

My advice as a long-ago victim of burglary? Get top quality locks on all the doors to your house, but don’t stop there. Protect EVERY access point to your home.

In other words, think ahead, and plan ahead; imagine your loved ones at risk, and unlike me, lock the barn door before the horse escapes.

“Safe” Storage

Written by NYC Locksmith on . Posted in Locksmith Articles

The most sophisticated security system can sometimes be defeated by stone-age technology: a brick thrown through a window. Using such a simple tool, a house-burglar can get in, grab your valuables, and get out again before help arrives, even if your home alarm system is connected to the local police station.

But for that kind of burglary to succeed, time is of the essence, and that’s what a secure safe provides: time that the thief can’t afford. That’s why it’s so important to make sure your real valuables can’t be found quickly or easily.

Remember, people who break into other people’s houses want to leave with money or portable valuables that can be turned into cash. And it’s a lot easier to walk out carrying small, easy-to-find and easy-to-sell items like jewelry and electronics than to break into a safe.

Safecracking isn’t a job for bricks, nor is it the sort of robbery technique that a would-be thief can decide to take up on the spur of the moment. It demands months, if not years, of study and practice as well as specialized equipment that’s expensive, bulky, and potentially dangerous.

And, in fact, safecracking is becoming a lost “art.” It reached its heyday during the half-century between the 1880s and the 1930s and then began a slow, inexorable decline as manufacturers developed ever more sophisticated methods to keep their safes impregnable, uncrackable, impervious . . . in short, safe! Their cores may include concrete, glass beads, aluminum cables, titanium, soft steel, and other materials to defend against drills that use such means as diamonds, oxyacetylene, and heated steel rods to get inside.

In fact, about the only way modern safecrackers – the few who are left – can break into a heavy safe is to take it with them and then try to break into it back at their “hideout.” Even then they risk destroying all its contents, which often happens when oxygen-based torches are used: the torches heat the steel walls of the safe to a temperature that destroys whatever is inside!

Small safes, too, have numerous protective measures built in, and there are many types and styles to choose from: floor safes, wall safes, hidden or disguised built-ins; specialty safes for records, documents, guns, and even simple, but strong, cash lock-boxes.

So think about what should you keep in your safe. Here are a few items that you might own that deserve the protection of a specialty safe. Cash. Jewelry. Negotiable instruments like stocks and bonds. Such important papers as deeds and contracts. Collections of stamps or coins. Silver and Gold. Fine china, art, and antiques. Guns and ammunition. Family heirlooms.

Whatever it is, whatever you own that deserves special protection, keep it safe – in a safe.

But remember: don’t let anyone know where your safe is or what you keep in it. In one of Agatha Christie’s mystery stories, a husband is so proud of his new, built-in wall safe that he shows several friends where it is. Word gets around, and sure enough, one evening when he and his wife are at church, their house is burgled, the safe cracked open, and everything taken.

Fortunately, his wife has foreseen this likely outcome. Instead of putting her mother’s heirloom pearls in the safe each evening as her husband insisted, she has filled her jewelry box with buttons for him to lock up at night. The pearls? They’re rolled up in a pair of stockings in the second drawer of her dressing table!

Locks – A Short History

Written by NYC Locksmith on . Posted in Locksmith Articles

Mechanical security locks work according to two fundamental principles: incorporating fixed obstructions to keep the wrong keys out, or using movable pins or tumblers that have to be put in the right positions by the key to move the bolt. The ancient Egyptians invented primitive tumbler locks that held a bolt in place across a door; their tumblers were wooden pegs up to two feet long.

The Old Testament suggests that ancient keys were also very large: “And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder; so he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open.” (Isaiah 22, xxii) While other civilizations have incorporated brass, bronze, silver, gold, steel, and carbon composites into their locks since those early models, many people in theMiddle East still use the Egyptian wooden model – 4,000 years later!

Even by the Renaissance locks and keys were still cumbersome. According to “History of the Lock” from, the Beddington lock, of wrought iron with a gilt rim, “measures about 14 x 8 inches and includes the Royal Arms of the Tudor kings. It is said that Henry VIII took it with him when he traveled and had it screwed to his bedroom door wherever he stayed.”

A great leap forward in lock technology came with Englishman Joseph Bramah’s 1884 patent for a lock whose security mechanism was placed inside an enclosed cylinder. The small key didn’t reach the bolt itself, but instead pushed a set of sliding plates that, in the right positions, caused the bolt to move.
Thirty-four years later the famous Londoner Jeremiah Chubb patented a security lever lock. Levers are thin metal plates that swing on the same pivot and must simultaneously be lifted to pre-selected positions for the key to move the bolt. The lever lock became a standard mechanism for more than 150 years.

The American inventors Linus Yale Sr. and his son, Linus Jr., designed pin-tumbler locks with a completely enclosed mechanism. Rather than using flat levers or plates, their locks use narrow metal pins to move the tumblers. The key is cut to correspond to pins in the bottom of the lock; when turned, the pins push the tumblers into the right position to open the locking mechanism. To make this pin-tumbler cylinder lock work, Linus Yale Jr. replaced the traditional round, fluted key with the flat serrated key we still use today.

Most locksmiths consider Medeco locks the top of the line for pick resistance. Their internal structure includes specially designed pins that must be elevated and rotated to an exact position in order for the lock to operate. Additionally, they have false slots on the sides of the pins, mushroom-shaped top pins, and a reciprocal slider mechanism, to further enhance the cylinder’s pick resistance. To resist drilling, hardened steel inserts are used to protect critical areas of the plug face, shell, and sidebar, and hardened steel rods are also used for the bottom pins and selectively for the top pins.

Even Medeco’s keys are special, with three crosscut angles that can’t be duplicated by a local key-copy place. The keys, protected under patent, trademark, and copyright laws, may be duplicated only by Medeco or by a Medeco authorized sales outlet, and only at your request. This means that you must get duplicates at a Medeco dealer, and records are kept.

Other important developments and inventions in locks since the 1800s include the time lock, in which a standard clock mechanism keeps even the right key from operating until a certain amount of time has elapsed; and the combination lock familiar to anyone who ever took a gym class. But even after 4,000 years, the original Egyptian concept of a bolt with tumblers and pins to move it is still a guiding principal of locksmithing.

Mr. Locks Demands High Standards For Locksmith Profession

Written by NYC Locksmith on . Posted in Locksmith Articles

Mr. Locks Demands High Standards For Locksmith Profession

When Mr. Locks was established in 2001, most of the public thought of locksmiths as small, shabby hole-in-the-wall storefronts where you could get a duplicate key made or get help when you were locked out of your car. In the eyes of corporate executives, home-owners and renters, and even many other small business owners, locksmiths were in the same category as others in the “mechanical” trades – air conditioning repairmen, plumbers, and the like – men doing dirty work in dirty overalls. For their part, most locksmiths themselves were not particularly interested in presenting a professional appearance.

The founders of Mr. Locks came out of the military, most of them from the special forces, and their image of a professional – both in appearance and in service quality – was guided by that experience. Rigorous standards and smart appearance were essential aspects of military service, and they were determined to apply both to the profession of locksmithing.

They also understood that security needed to be a broader, deeper concept than one limited to cylinders and deadbolts and the keys that open them. That’s why, from the outset, the owners decided to focus on service and quality as their watchwords. They would use only the best products from the most reputable manufacturers, they would demand field training and certification for all their installers, and they would never be an embarrassment to a client, whether on Wall Street, Fifth Avenue, Chicago’s Lake Shore, or an apartment in Brooklyn. Equally important, they would offer a full range of security services including an on-line FAQ line, advice, and free analysis of existing security systems.

That’s why walking into Mr. Locks today is like entering any other specialty retail business. It’s staffed by professionals who look professional and do a professional job. And, in the words of co-manager Moran Shemi, “That’s what sets Mr. Locks apart.”

Locksmith & Emergency services in Chicago – OPENED!

Written by NYC Locksmith on . Posted in Locksmith Articles

Mr. Locks has officially opened a new locksmith branch in Chicago, Illinois, which will provide all the security and locksmith services currently provided to New York City (NYC – Manhattan) and the NY area, including locks, lockouts, gates (roll down), security doors, alarm systems, intercom systems, CCTV surveillance systems, access control (keyless entry, card access, biometric access) and much more, as specified in detail HERE. Our services from Chicago locksmith is now providing extensive locksmith services in all the areas in Chicago, Ill.