Choosing Quality Locks
by Bart Steele the Locksmith
Customers that call me needing to change locks often have many questions and concerns regarding the various types of locks and the purposes they serve. Here's a little insider information from the pros answering questions ranging from the type of lock you should consider to the length of time it takes to change a lock.
Are you aware that the average break-in takes less than 30 seconds? Obviously most people wouldn't leave all of their money, and or valuable belongings lying in plain sight for potential prowlers to see! Yet even so, the most stolen item from homes and cars just happens to be women's purses. That's the same as leaving cash on the table - only now the burglar has access to your credit cards, keys, ID, cash, and any personal items that you may have left in your pocket book.
I once viewed a surveillance video, which caught two men breaking in through the glass door. You can guess how they got in. So the question is: What good did the locks do? The business owner I consulted at the time asked me that same question and my reply was simply, "Time". It's very difficult to keep a burglar out of a secure area even with security guards and sniff dogs. If you can keep the burglar out long enough for him to decide it's not worth it then you've done your job. I pointed out to the business owner that there was no sign on the door saying there is a CCTV system on his property, which could have been a deterrent. Good locks may not always keep burglars out but extra precautions may help to change their mind! Good enough I say. You may not be able to stop a good burglar but if you can slow them down enough they may consider going elsewhere.
What you should look for in a good lock
You have two concerns: keep burglars out and prevent internal fraud. So what kind of lock should you choose? The consumer has the ability do their own research to help in making a good decision about the security of their home. One example is The Locksmith Journal. This a publication that reviews lock manufacturers products and awards them a consumer rating. It's important to note that the locks that you can purchase in Home Depot or other hardware stores that sells mass produced locks are not even reviewed. Also any decent locksmith will be able to tell you about the quality of locks that are currently on the market.
When doing your research you'll find that once you find a good manufacturer you'll still need to research the grades of locks that they supply. One of the more respected lock manufacturers is Schlage. Their products include a lot of high-security lock and key waves but they also have a line of locks they make which are only to be sold at large retailers. This product is made in Mexico and is an exact replica of the SC-1 grade 3 residential locks but lacks the amount of security you get out of the original SC-1.
Schlage offers many levels of security I am a fan of the Primus line. They have a unique key wave called SC-4 and it has a security feature on the key making it more difficult to pick. Though it is not a high security lock the price is cost-effective. Schlage also has a line of locks that come with the Mul-T-Lock key wave, which can be great to use at your home as well as at your business! Hard to drill, hard to pick, good for exterior doors and available at a fair price.
Kwikset, another high-profile lock manufacturer, does something similar. They sell the same product locksmiths carry but with a significant difference: the material of the lock is of a lower quality. You get the same lock at a cheaper price but the quality of the product, durability and life are vastly different. For a good burglar time is no longer an issue.
Time is the name of the game! You may not be able to keep burglars out altogether but you can make their life more difficult. Locks like Medico or ASSA are hard to pick and can take hours to drill even for the pros. Medico is perhaps the most respected locksmith manufacturer in the entire locksmith community. ASSA and Mul-T-Lock are from the same Medico lock family and they are all made from the same durable materials.
Another consideration is keyless entry locks. Today these products are much cheaper than what they used to be. For example there is a dead-bolt that has a combination lock (like a safe, with a dial). There is no battery needed, no keys can get lost or stolen and the best part about it is that you can change the code yourself as many times as you like! This is a great product that will keep you from spending money on you locks and keep you safe.
There are lock systems that work on the same keyless access but run on batteries. I don't like this option as much and I definitely think that if you decide to purchase one you will need to choose a product that is commercial grade. The DL series is one of the better locks and made by Alarm Lock. These are not like the battery keyless access that customers ask me about made by Kwikset. The DL series is a commercial lock with a long lasting battery and can hold more then one code can even track the people coming in and out.
You might also consider biotechnology as a route to go. This includes fingerprints, retinal scanners and others. Your home probably came with a simple lock that would only take a few seconds to pick and drill.
The truth is that to a professional burglar you might as well leave your door open when you go to sleep at night. The reality is that there is a 30% increase in break-ins every year. Changing four locks to increase security only takes about 45 minutes. For a few dollars and about an hour you can do that much more to prevent yourself from becoming a burglary victim.
If you have any questions about locks for your home or business it is encouraged to consult a locksmith before making a final decision on the security of your home.