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We highly recommend having a duplicate made before you end up in this situation. Losing your last and only car key can be a costly and challenging problem. The best solution is simply to find it. While this can be a difficult task on the beach, it is still possible. There are local small businesses in our area that specialize in this service. There are multiple options to have a replacement made when you have no luck finding them.

Call a locksmith

With a bit of luck, you could have new car keys the same day. This can prevent travel delays and other costly expenses like missing time off work. The locksmith will need to have the required parts in-stock, must be able to service your particular vehicle, and have an opening in their schedule. Some locksmith shops offer after-hours mobile service but expect to pay a premium especially on holidays or weekends.

Tow your vehicle to the nearest dealership

Most branded car dealerships are happy to service your vehicle on their next business day. Their service department has similar prerequisites to a mobile locksmith: have parts in stock and have a service appointment opening. The potential added expense here is the cost of a tow truck, unknown wait time for completion, and any additional costs that may come up. Be sure to ask for the total cost of parts plus labor before deciding to use a dealership to replace your keys.

Hybrid solution

Most vehicles equipped with anti-theft systems have a security password / pin code to access the system. It is listed on the vehicle security item page and kept in a secure online system at the dealership. This page also contains detailed key information which a locksmith can use to generate keys. The vehicle owner may request a copy of this page from a dealership for a small fee, usually less than $25. You will need to provide proof of registration and a matching driver's license at the dealership. Some locksmiths may offer a hefty discount (~$100) if you provide the security item page because it makes their job easier.

Twist-n-go key (Euro)

Most vehicles require special tools and programming to authorize each key before it will start your car. These are an exception to the rule and only available on a few models of European vehicles. Some European models have up to 6 pre-programmed keys available from the factory. The car usually ships with 2 leaving up to 4 others available. These keys are held in a secure system and can be mail-ordered from the dealership. These can be made by an automotive locksmith but will be more costly.

Plan ahead

The best solution is to plan ahead and get a spare. This is more affordable and will prevent a stressful situation from ever happening. We can make spare keys for most vehicles in about 30 minutes if you drive it to our shop.

Car keys come in all shapes and sizes and with a wide range of features. The cost(s) associated with replacement keys increase with the level of difficulty. Below you will find them listed in order of difficulty.

Level 1. Simple Mechanical $

The most basic form of car key is a simple metal head key with teeth. Classic cars used this design but it is rarely used on modern vehicles.

Level 2. Transponder $$

Transponder keys have an embedded microchip inside the key. Each key must be programmed into the vehicle or the anti theft system will prevent starting. Transponder keys have a range of complexity. Most transponder keys can be duplicated in a locksmith shop provided you still have a working key.

Level 3. Password Protected Vehicle Computer $$

As an additional measure to prevent theft, auto-makers implemented vehicle computers with a security password or pin code. The password or pin code must be known before the vehicle system can be accessed. Once learned, a locksmith can program new keys to the car.

Level 4. Remote Head Key $$

Most modern remote head keys offer features like keyless entry and have an embedded transponder to work with the vehicle anti-theft system. The keyless entry remote is directly attached to the key. Each model of vehicle may use a different part number for this type of key. Sometimes different trim levels will use different keys.

Level 5. Proximity (Smart) Key $$

Some newer vehicles offer smart-keys which allow the doors to automatically lock / unlock with a touch provided your key is close to the door. This is done with a small radio transmitter and receiver. The vehicle detects a key and allows access. Starting these cars is done pushing a START button. Some cars have a limit of two working smart keys while others may allow as many as eight. Most proximity smart keys are unique to each year/ make / and model of vehicle. Sometimes a different key is needed between trim levels.

Level 6. European (VW, Mercedes Benz, BMW) $$$

Many European models require electronic components be removed from the car before accessing the vehicle security system. These components can be hidden deep inside the vehicle and can take hours of labor removing to access. Locksmiths are usually able to generate a working copy of a transponder key without much trouble but generating new keys without a working key can be more challenging and costly.

Over the years added technology and security has increased the cost of tools, parts, and additional training needed to make car keys. It is not as easy as it once was to generate lost keys and, at times, make duplicates. We advise our customers to have a duplicate made if they only have one key for their vehicle. The cost to duplicate is much less than generating a lost key.

Not All Keyless Entry Locks Are Created Equal: Basic Electronic or Keypad Lock vs Smart Lock

While both are mechanically the same, smart locks have added technology that give the user added functionality and convenience. Many smart locks can be opened from anywhere via an app on your phone.

Basic electronic locks, even without the added functions, still have a purpose in physical security. All offer the convenience of keyless entry with a push button or touch screen, without the need for a physical key. They are great for families or shared spaces where multiple people need access to the same location and provide an easy way to add or delete users at little to no expense. This saves the time and cost of a rekey when you need to take access away for one user. With traditional locks, a rekey would be necessary to ensure the user you would like to remove no longer has access and reissue of new keys for those you want to keep.

If you are looking for more convenience a connected WIFI or Bluetooth option may be for you. A WIFI enable lock offers the ability to lock or unlock your door from anywhere with a app on your phone. It also gives you access to an audit trail, providing a log to see who is coming in going. The app gives you the ability to remove or add access, at your fingertip. Some offer features to assign temporary keys and limit access to specific days and times. Many now work with Google, Alexa, and Apple providing voice activation. These are the best option for Air Bnb and short-term rentals, giving the ability to remove and add access when renters come and go. Access to WIFI and a hub will be needed for these features. If you are looking for convenience but do not want to connect through WIFI, a Bluetooth enabled lock will provide similar features, but you will have to be within Bluetooth range (around 40 feet) to access and control the lock.

We service and install a wide variety of keyless entry products for our customers. Depending on your situation, and desired use, both keyless entry options are a great addition to the traditional mechanical lock. We do recommend having a key override in the case of no power or electronic malfunctions. Routine maintenance is required to keep them functioning properly.

If you would like more information, or need helping finding the right lock for your home or business, please give us a call 910-939-2760.

This is meant to be an introduction to keyless entry systems available.

Have you ever taken your dog for a walk and returned to find your front door locked with your keys still inside? It happens far too often and typically at the most inconvenient times. Another great option of some systems is the ability to give the dog or house sitter a code that you can issue or remove at anytime. With some systems this is as easy as sending a text or phone call.

Keyless entry is a great option for short-term vacation rentals like with Air BnB or VRBO, having the ability to grant access remotely in case the keys get lost is priceless. Some keyless entry systems sync directly with the AirBnB app and can automatically assign and revoke access codes with your customer's reservation.

Another great use is at locations like a hunting cabin on a remote island. A simple push button mechanical lock with a single combination would be good for a small private property. An electronic lock which generates it own power when you turn the handle is the best solution for shared use hunting cabin and you have the ability to give each user their own unique code.

While the features offered by modern keyless entry locks are great, not all are created equal. Some keyless entry locks do not have the ability for a key override in the event the batteries die or the electronics fail. On homes with multiple entry doors, this is not a problem since you have an option to use your key on other doors. If you live in a condo with a single entry, having an override key "in case the electronics fail" is essential.

If you're interested in learning more about these systems and the different options they offer, stay tuned. We hope to have a new article posted each Friday going in depth into the many different options. If you don't want to wait, stop by or give us a call and we can help you decide what works best for your situation.

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The trouble with safes

There are many reasons why we need to lock things up, especially during the holidays when kids come to visit. A quality home safe is a great place to store items which could be potentially dangerous to children like firearms or prescription medication. It can also be a good place to store valuables like family heirlooms, important documents or emergency money. A common misconception is that any home safe will do a fine job for any purpose but not all safes are created equal.

Safes are purpose built items and sometimes their limitations are not clearly defined on the packaging. Some items marketed as "safes" are nothing more than a 'simple child-proof container.' One popular handgun "safe" is made out of thin plastic and it can be easily broken by children who can throw a baseball. Another very popular brand of fire-proof "safes" does a good job of protecting documents in the event of a fire but can be easily broken open by any burglar. A safe designed to prevent burglary (UL-B rated) is built stronger than a basic fire safe or gun safe. Cash deposit safes used at many businesses are also built thicker to prevent burglary but usually do not include a fire-proof layer by design.

Some safe designs are convenient and easy to use with electronic locks. Many budget models are solid at big-box stores but they are not all created equal. Some design features of electronic safes can be a nightmare to deal when the batteries fail. If the battery compartment is on the inside you may be locked-out of your own safe when the batteries die. We prefer designs with an accessible battery compartment on the outside of the safe. This allows you to replace bad batteries after they expire while the safe remains secured closed. For small safes, we recommend bolting it down to the floor, wall studs or another large heavy object. This makes it much harder for a burglar to steal your entire safe.

Before you decide to buy a safe, you must consider what purpose it will serve? Do you plan to store cash and valuables to prevent loss in case of a burglary? Do you plan to store documents or heat-sensitive items which need protection from fire? If you already have a home safe, will it provide the level of protection you need?

At ProLockPlus, we sell safes for each purpose. We are happy to recommend a model which best serves your needs. We also provide a number of safe related services including opening, repair, installation, and moving. Drop in or give us a call today to talk about your safe needs.

Security starts with a proper mindset

As a security professional, I often get asked, "what type of locks, alarms, and other security devices are the best to install on my home or business." My answer is, "The ones you will actually use."

High-security locks with an actively monitored alarm system would be pointless if you fail to lock the door and set the alarm. When people get in a hurry they tend to leave doors unlocked and may not set the alarm especially if they are only leaving for a short time. This is what we call an easy or soft-target. Most criminals prey on soft-targets.

To avoid being a soft-target, we must adopt a security mindset. Having a security mindset means checking that doors and windows are properly closed, latched and locked. Setting the alarm if you have one and locking the deadbolt when you leave. It also means protecting your alarm and entry codes from unauthorized people. Allowing someone to watch while you enter a combination is a mistake. Hiding a key under the doormat or in a flower pot is also a bad idea.

Once a proper security mindset has been adopted, we can make better recommendations to help further protect your family, employees and property. Call or drop-in to discuss your security today.

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Have you heard the phrase, "proper prior planning prevents poor performance"? Would you believe this could help you avoid today's high cost of replacing car keys? It is true! If you plan ahead you could avoid unnecessary obstacles, especially when it comes to misplacing or forgetting your keys.

Planning ahead can help save both time and money in a couple of very common scenarios.

The first is being locked out of your home or car. This can be very frustrating but is easily resolved after a phone call to your local locksmith, some patience, and payment for the service. If you are looking to avoid the cost of this service you could consider leaving a spare set of keys with a trusted relative or neighbor to open your home or car in case you are locked out. Another option for your home would be adding keyless entry. We will go more in depth with the different keyless entry options in a future post.

The second more costly scenario is losing your last and only car key. If this happens, you have a couple of options. You could have your vehicle towed to the auto-dealership, schedule service, and hope they have the correct key in stock for your car. You may have your car back in a couple days with a working key and a hefty bill for parts, service, and towing. A more affordable option may be to call a mobile locksmith for service. He or she will drive to you and make new keys on-site. This is usually faster and can be cheaper depending on your type of vehicle. Many times the locksmith is able to offer after-hours and same-day service which may come with an additional fee. If you are unable to go without a vehicle for a couple day this may be the only option. Again, this can be avoided. Before you lose your only car key, have a duplicate key made. This can be done in shop with your local locksmith and typically takes less than30 minutes.

The services mentioned in this post are all offered at Pro Lock Plus. If you are in need or services from being locked out of your home or care or only have one car key give us a call or stop by.