How Not to Lose Your Keys in 2022

Losing your keys is one of the last things that you want to happen in everyday life; you might be locked out of your car, running late to an appointment or caught out in the rain, which undoubtedly, would have a negative impact on your day. However, there is a silver lining to this situation, as like most things it can be avoided. Make sure you never lose your car keys again through some nifty gadgets and helpful tips below!

If you have lost your house keys and are in need of a locksmith, we can help. 

If your car keys are lost stolen or damaged we can get an auto locksmith to you.

Can keys be tracked?

Most key fobs do not hold within them the technology to track them; however you can get some great gadgets that will allow you to track your keys. These devices can often be attached to your key ring and be activated and tracked through an app on your phone.

 

Is there an app to find lost keys?

Some tracking devices, such as the Amazon Tile work with an app on your phone that will allow you to locate the most recent location that your valuable has been pinpointed in and if in range will allow you to send a push to sound an alarm on the device attached to your valuable. Make sure you never lose your keys again with Tile!

 

What is the best tracking device for keys?

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Our top pick for a key finder device is the Amazon Tile.

This nifty gadget can attach to just about anything; your key ring, your backpack and even your purse! Using the smartphone app, you can locate any nearby valuable that you might have misplaced by the Tile Mate playing a loud tune to help you find it one prompted.

But what if your missing valuable is out of range? Have no fear, the Tile Mate tracked and pinpoints previous locations so you will be able to see where it was last pinpointed, but it doesn’t stop there. Through the extensive Tile community you can report an item missing on the app and if it is close to one of the over 5 Million Tile users can report its location to help you find it. Likewise, should you lose your phone, simply double tap the Tile button on any Tile device to make your phone ring, even on silent.

However, what is probably the best feature is that it is compatible with Alexa, so should you lose your keys down the back of the sofa, you can simple ask Alexa to find your keys activating the loud tune from your Tile device.

With 3 ways of securing your valuables, through adhesive dots; allowing even items such as your camera to be secure, the thread Tiles; which can threaded onto just about anything, or the slimline card version; allowing for it to be discreetly slid into your purse or wallet, whatever possession you would like secure there is a version that will fit you!

Buy the Essentials Combo on Amazon for £67.99, which includes 2x Adhesive Tiles, 1x Thread Tile and a Slimline Tile.

 

What is the best budget tracking device for keys?

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If you don’t want to spend quite as much for the Amazon Tile but still want all of the great features then the TrackR Pixel is a very agreeable second.

With many of the same features as the Amazon Tile with the added bonus of being able to see the last several places that were identified and not just the last one, giving you more options to search should you lose something out and about. Another great feature of this device is the light up LED alongside the activated sound; this means that you’ll be able to find your keys in a flash.

For the more than affordable price of £17.99 from Amazon, will provide you with 3 tracking devices in 3 different colours.

 

Best Alternative Tracking Device

Chipolo One has a history of producing trackers with very loud alarms; this makes it easier to find anything you have lost. It has a reasonable range of 40-50 feet and a nifty feature is that it will buzz if you go out of range of your keys (phone/wallet), meaning it will prevent you from leaving them anywhere. Unlike the Tile these extra features are included in the price, so there are no extra fees. The Chipolo One is best used when looking for your keys in your home and at £21 it’s a cheaper alternative to the Tile.

 

Most Stylish Key Finder

The Orbit Key Finder has a stunning brushed aluminium finish and you can choose from 12 colours making it a great choice for those looking to keep their keyring stylish. It does alert you if you stray too far from your keys, but the range isn’t great. Once you lose the connection with your phone app, it’s very hard to re-establish, so if you are looking for your keys in a hurry, that will be a hindrance. You can replace the battery, but you will need a plastic tool that comes with the Orbit to swap out the battery, unlike the Tile, which you just slide the back off to access.

5 Top Tips on How Not to Lose your Keys

 

1. Give your Keys a Home

Setting aside a set place for your keys will help to stop misplacing them when at home. A bowl or a set of hooks on the wall are easy places that you can throw your keys on when you get home. So when you get that sudden rush of panic ‘where are my keys’, you know that you would have put them in their designated space.

However, do keep in mind this space should be kept away from any windows to avoid ‘key fishing’, from burglars who may notice them when walking by.

 

2. Make Them Glow

Specialist luminescent paint will make anything you paint glow in the dark! Try painting one of your own keys, so if you’re searching in the dark you can easily spot them, with the added benefit that you can easily identify them in the day as well.  

If you rent a property, make sure that you don’t paint a key that isn’t yours as your landlord might not take kindly to painting their key, in this case try painting a bike lock key or another item on your key ring.

 

3. Big, Bold Keyrings

Decorative keyrings can be your best friend as they can make your keys easier to find at the bottom of your bag or when searching around the house, but they also make them easily identifiable. If you were to lose your keys, you could speak to someone of authority in the area you have lost them. Talk to a police officer or a shop manager, and enquire as to whether a set of keys has been handed in. If they have you can easily describe and identify them as yours by the unique and bold key rings you have. Click here for top reviewed keyrings you can’t lose!

 

4. Carry them in Secure Pockets

The most common way that your keys are stolen is through open pockets and bags. An expert thief would be able to grab something from your pocket or bag without you knowing in seconds. To prevent this make sure you put your keys in a pocket that is closed by a popper or zip and keys that are in your bags should be in an internal zipped compartment. This will reduce your risk of losing your keys through pick-pocketing.

 

5. Invest in a Bluetooth Key Finder

Unfortunately we are all bound to lose our keys at one point or another, however by investing in one of the products we have listed or even another one you have found that’s right for you can save you stress and time.

These products can help you find your keys faster and with more ease than ever before, so if you did lose your keys you’d be thankful you invested in a finder.

 

One of the most common and aggravating mishaps is simply losing your keys. Key loss can happen due to different reasons not just them being stolen, misplacing your keys or accidentally dropping them under your couch could all result in key loss. It’s even considered as one of the most common lost objects between people. Therefore, don’t panic and waste time blaming yourself and follow the steps provided above to avoid losing your keys again!

House Robbery Markings

Have you ever seen a strange marking on the side or nearby your house, such as on the curb or on your bin? Have you ever come across the term “burglar code”? Did you know that burglars have been thought to frequently use a symbol code to mark out residences they wish to break into? Burglars seem to be increasingly relying on codes, symbols, and markings to assist them in choosing houses to target and in recent times there has been much speculation about these signs, which is wittily dubbed the ‘da pinchi code’.

Although the comedic name is something to be wary of. You might be asking what do these signs mean and what should you do if you are worried about being burgled? Read through our blog to answer these questions and more!

 

What are House Robbery Markings?

These ‘robbery markings’ or ‘burglar signals’ are basic sketches and forms that are supposedly used as a ‘code’ to determine whether a house is worth targeting. These illustrations are also supposed to indicate to other thieves what type of person lives at the property, such as whether the residents are vulnerable, elderly, or live in a single-family home. Read below to know more about all thief signs on houses and how to protect your house!

 

The ‘Da Pinchi Code’

The da pinchi code is the name that has been used across social media sites and news stories over the last few years that have claimed to crack the code on burglar markings! The meanings behind the markings are deemed to mean things such as ‘vulnerable occupant’, ‘alarmed house’ and ‘wealthy’.

Recently, there have been new news stories related to the ‘da pinchi code’ which rules out these findings as being burglar code based on police research, instead the meanings of the markings being much more innocent. Check out our image below to see the markings, their supposed meaning and the true meaning behind them.

 

infographic house markings

 

What Do Burglars Use to Mark Houses?

Chalk is the main material burglars use as it is easily removed and not as noticeable as materials such as spray paint markings outside the house. As well as burglar chalk signs, burglars mark houses with almost anything they can; it may be a small blob of paint or a piece of string tied around a lamppost!

White and blue spray paint markings outside the house are the most common colours used by burglars. Make sure you keep an eye out for both colour pains to avoid getting burgled!

There was also a stint in 2018 mainly found in Dublin where burglars would place clear tape over the keyholes on the exterior access doors. If the tape is left intact for the next couple of days they would know the house is currently vacant!

As well as markings, burglars also may disguise themselves as door to door salesmen; this is what we call distraction burglary. They may also post fake Locksmith contact details through your door for example, always do your research before calling trades people to ensure they are legitimate! If you need a trustworthy Locksmith, contact us here!

 

Where are these Burglar Signs Usually Located?

The burglar signs themselves are often left somewhere on the property, such as a garden wall or driveway, but are also found somewhere nearby. Chalk marks on pavement, bin, lamp post, or curb are all examples of where you can find them nearby.

 

How do Robbers Pick a House?

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Burglars who place these signs on houses or in the neighbourhood have usually already scouted the area and determined which residences are potentially the best targets. In most cases, planned burglaries will have had the house watched for a few days to learn who lives there, their daily schedules, whether they have up-to-date home security system, and whether there is anything of value within the property. Learn more about how to avoid attracting robbers to your home in this guide!

 

How Do you Know if your House has been Marked?

You might find a few different symbols around your property that seem odd or strange, in odd places that the council or workmen wouldn’t leave markings for official work. If you happen to find marks on your property that seem out of place or like an illustration, this will be burglar signs!

What Should I do if there are Chalk Markings Outside my House?

So, you may have noticed strange chalk markings outside your house or nearby? First of all, take a photo of the suspected burglar sign, make a detailed note of its location, when you first noticed it and then wash it away as best as you can.

Next, we recommend that you contact your local council to ensure the markings weren’t left by their employees doing work along the street.

Following on, if not left there by the council contact the police using the non-emergency number, 101. They may advise you to keep an eye on and record suspicious activity in your neighbourhood, including strangers frequently walking up and down the road and looking or photographing yours or your neighbours’ homes! Take into consideration that burglar road markings are very common and therefore talking to your neighbours about this can also indicate whether they have noticed anything strange and you can ask them to keep an eye out moving forward.

Finally, it is strongly recommended that you upgrade your home security to be on the safe side, continue on to see our suggestions.

Myth Busters

Although you should always be wary of any strange markings that have appeared on your home, over the last couple of years some police forces have found that in actual fact these markings are harmless! Their investigations often conclude that these markings have been used by utility firms and broadband companies to plan upcoming works. So if you do happen to find weird markings round your property don’t panic!

Is the “Da Pinchi Code” the Only Robbery Markings used by Burglars?

Many people ask how to tell of a burglar is watching your house? Although the “da pinchi code” are thought to be the main markings used by burglars anywhere on or close to your house, there are other ways that is worth considering that burglars can use to keep an eye out on your property and test whether it is frequently occupied. If you have found a stone in front of your car wheel, then you should know it could be a test from a burglar to see if you use your parked car or not.

Another scenario that has been experienced by some residents is thrown food cans on your doorstep; it is another way to leave a mark on your property and undoubtedly if cleaned then the property is occupied while if it’s left for days then they assume it is not and find it a good burglar opportunity.

There are also some common signs which you should consider when thinking about your home security.  One of the most common indicators can be a random knock at your door. This can be done by burglars to see whether you have a dog or a security system that will alert them if they break in.

Random acts of vandalism may also be observed, for example a shattered window in a remote portion of your house could be a test to see if the house is occupied. Also, if you find your trash rummaged through or strewn about, it’s possible that someone is looking for information to see if you’re a good target.

If you have experienced any of the other mentioned signs, we suggest you do a quick search to see if your house is marked.

Make sure you consider the many types of markings a burglar can leave as it is not restricted to the ‘da pinchi’ code. What you can do in this case is join your local Neighbourhood Watch scheme if you are away from home for a while!

 

How to Protect your Home Against Burglars

Here are a few quick tips that you can apply today to avoid house robbery.

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Upgrade your Home Security Knowledge with Keytek® Locksmiths

We are dedicated to helping you keep your home secure and avoid house robbery here at Keytek® which is why we are continually updating our security content on our website. If you were interested in this blog we recommend that you take a look at our Home Security Guide here where we break down home security into sections such as your front door, garden gate, outdoor lights and more.

Already checked out our Home Security Guide? Take a look at our blog page here; we aim to upload a new blog for our readers weekly!

Best Anti-Snap Door Locks

What is Lock Snapping?

Lock snapping is a method, which is being used more and more by burglars, that renders a euro lock useless. Burglars use this technique of breaking or ‘snapping’ the cylinder of a lock to gain access to the inner mechanism, this then allows them to tamper with the inner mechanism and gain entry to your home. Since the number of properties in the UK with a euro lock has grown, so has the ‘lock snapping’ method of burglary.

Why is Lock Snapping Used?

It’s not common knowledge that the cylinder is the most vulnerable part of your lock. This is because when tempered with or broken, your multipoint lock can become useless. The problem with lock snapping is that it doesn’t take much skill and even the most inexperienced burglar can do it. All it takes is a pair of plyers and the right amount of force on a certain point of your lock and the mechanism is exposed.

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How Do I Protect My Home Against Locks Snapping?

One way to protect you home against lock snapping is to install an ‘Anti-Snap’ lock. So, what are anti snap locks? These locks have been designed specifically to stop these kinds of break-ins from happening. Manufacturers have designed these locks to snap in a certain place when under attack, by breaking in this designated place, the mechanism cannot be exposed. This model can stop a burglar entering your home through lock snapping, but you will need to replace the lock once it’s been snapped.

Best Anti Snap Locks UK

There are many different types of Anti-Snap locks on the market, so below we will take you through the main contenders, so you can learn what you need to consider when buying an Anti-Snap lock.

1.     British Standard

A lock will only bare the ‘British Standard’ kite mark, once it has met the standards of manufacturing set by the BSI (British Standard Institute). It’s not uncommon that most insurance companies will specify that you must only use British Standard Locks to comply with their guidelines. The British Standard Kite mark is widely regarded as a sign of high quality and reliability, any lock that bares this mark can be trusted to be secure.

If you are thinking of using an anti-snap lock then the British Standard is the ‘TS007:2012’. A TS007 will protect your locks from various methods of attack such as: drilling, picking, and bumping in addition to lock snapping. An anti-snap lock baring the British Standard kite mark can protect you from these types of attack. It is advisable, however, to keep yourself updated on other ways to protect your home, it’s best not to rely on just one form of protection. It’s true that every TS007 is high quality, but there are 3 levels of security within it. We recommend looking into what makes a lock 3 star rated and the differences between 1 star and 3 star, before choosing a lock for your home.

TS007 Star Rating Explained

 1 Star Rating

For a cylinder to achieve this rating it is tested in the manner equivalent to the BS 3621:2007 and the minimum requirements of BS EN 1303:2005.

 2 Star Rating

For security hardware to receive a two star rating the protection offered by the hardware to the cylinder is tested in the manner equivalent to the PAS 24 test. In addition, where possible, the hardware’ durability and corrosion resistance are tested in accordance with the European handle standard EN 1906:2010.

3 Star Rating

For a cylinder to receive three stars, it must meet the requirements of the one star cylinder and also withstand an attack similar to the PAS 24 cylinder test without the benefit of any protective hardware. The 3 star TS007 British Standard is an anti snap, anti bump compliant!

Find out even more about British Standard here.

2.     Sold Secure Diamond Standard

Another trust signal you can look out for, which guarantees the secureness of a lock is the ‘sold secure’ sign. This means the lock has been tested and vetted by Sold Secure, a testing a certification house.

SS312 Diamond Standard was started in 2010 and is in a state of constant growth and development. The checks and test are updated constantly to make sure the locks can withstand new and more sophisticated attacks. One of these tests is the resistance to lock snapping, which it passes.

3.     Yale Anti-Snap Locks

There’s no doubting that you’ve heard of Yale locks, they are the biggest name in the lock industry and have been around for hundreds of years. With this amount of experience and years of producing reliable locks, you can trust that their locks are of a high quality. Yale state on their website;

Whereas previously Yale AS Series cylinders were approved by Sold Secure SS312 Diamond Standard, we have moved away from this standard and focused all our development activities on the latest British Kitemark standard TS007. Homeowners throughout the UK recognize the Kitemark logo as a symbol of product quality and performance. Yale KM, AS and AS Platinum Series cylinders are all approved to TS007.”

So, if you have confidence in the British Standard Kite Mark or your insurance policy states that your locks should be British Standard, then a Yale lock is a good product to go for.

This means that if your insurance requires a British Standard Kitemark and it’s something you put your trust in, then a Yale Lock might be the one for you. Yale euro cylinders are insurance approved and have anti-snap, anti-bump, and kitemarked features to provide additional protection.

4.     ERA Invincible Locks

If you are looking for another well-known brand to go with, then you should look at ERA. They have been designing and producing high quality locks for over 175 years. They are known for innovation and pushing the industry into new ideas. They specialise in window and door security and have started focusing on smart home solutions.

The ERA doesn’t rely on the Sold Standard or British Standard to grade their locks, or give them a quality rating. They have their own test centre that is approved by UKAS. This means they are approved to independently vet locks to a ‘gold standard’ of PAS 24:2012.

Their solution to the lock-snapping problem is to design a euro lock that has a unique shape. The ‘Invincible Cylinder’ reinforces the central fixing hole with 5 times more material than a standard euro cylinder. According to the ERA website the ‘Invincible Cylinder’ boasts many security features including;

  • Reinforced with five times more metal than a standard cylinder lock.

  • 6 hardened high security pins for the ultimate anti-pick, anti-drill and anti-bump resistance

  • Robust shape is a strong visual deterrent to would be thieves

  • Independently tested to meet the latest security standards: British Standard Kitemark (TS007), Sold Secure Diamond and the police‘s Secured By Design accreditation

What makes the ERA locks different to other anti-snap locks is that whereas traditionally other anti-snaps locks are designed to snap in a certain place with being tampered with, the ERA locks are designed to not break at all. The purpose of this is to give the euro lock a ‘fighting chance’ against intruders, the benefit of this is that even if there is an attempted break in using lock snapping, you won’t have to replace your lock.

5.     Mul-t-lock Integrator Break Secure XP+

Established over 40 years ago, Mul-T-Lock has been developing and manufacturing high security locking products for commercial, industrial, and residential applications.

Their contribution to the anti-snap market is the Mul-t-lock Integrator Break Secure XP+. It’s the first cylinder on the market to achieve a three-star Kitemark accreditation without the need for a high security handle. The Mul-t-lock Integrator Break Secure XP+ comes with a reinforced bar that advances the cylinders protection and resistance to lock snapping. It also features 2 grip deflectors, which makes it difficult for any tool to actually get a grip on the cylinder in the first place. It is also impossible to copy the keys, unless you have the code, so you don’t have to worry about people copying them. All Mul-T-Lock products comply with the highest international standards, such as; UL, CEN, VDS, SKG, CPC, A2P and ISO 9001/2000, ISO14001, SI 18001.

Choosing an Anti-Snap Lock

So, when it comes to choosing an anti-snap lock, you need to look at the standards the euro cylinders adhere to. Whether it be British Standard or Sold Secure Diamond Standard, you need to check what standard your insurance provider requires you to have. For more information on lock types, click here.

The Best Smart Locks For 2022

The traditional key and lock might soon be phased out through the invention of the increasingly popular smart door lock. It is now possible for you to enter your home with a simple push of a button, a swipe of a card or even your phone!

Here at Keytek® we are taking a look at the best smart door locks you can get that will help you secure your home, protect your valuables and overall make your security more intelligent, prompt and effortless.

 

What are smart door locks?

A smart door lock is an electronic and/or mechanical lock that can open wirelessly with the authorisation of users. Most smart door locks take away the need for a traditional key but rather can grant users entry through their Smartphone or a key fob.

 

Types of smart door locks

The most common mean of entry includes keypads, biometric or Bluetooth.

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)

RFID locks allow for entry by using a key fob or key card; much like the system that is used in hotels.

Bluetooth Enabled Locks

Some locks which can operate using Bluetooth will detect your Smartphone’s Bluetooth ID and can open when you approach.

Keypads and Touch Screens

Early smart door locks used keypads as means of entry, offering the user to set up a unique pin code to gain access. Newer smarts locks have replaced keypads with touch screens with panels instead of buttons, for sleeker design and increased security.

Biometric Entry

Biometric entry smart door locks use fingerprint identification to operate the lock. This is now operating on most current Smartphones. Click here for the best fingerprint door locks in the UK!

 

Are smart door locks really better?

The biggest benefits of smart door locks are that they are configurable and can be more secure than the traditional key and lock. With digital locks they can be changed at any moment, should you think that someone has gained the code for your home or stolen a key fob, you can disconnect, reprogram, or wipe any potential security risk within a matter of minutes. Likewise if you would like to give someone temporary access, you would be able to allow someone access to your home but maintain that you have complete control over who is coming in and out of your home.

However, nothing comes without flaws. Smart door locks aren’t better when it comes to an expert hacker. In fact, most smart locks have at least one vulnerability that exposes them to hacking. Some vulnerable features for the smart locks that put them in risk are the following:

  • The device buzzing
  • Plain text passwords
  • APK files decompiling
  • Replay attacks

Are all smart door locks keyless?

Different models of smart door locks will come with different features. Many of these digital locks come with a manual key override in case of fault or emergency. However, some models have committed completely to being keyless and do not have a keyway.

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Why doesn’t everyone have a smart lock?

Similar to all new technology, it can take a while for people to completely trust in this new type of product. The advantage of the traditional key lock is that you know it is going to work, is going to secure your home and most of all you know how to operate it.

One potential downside there might be with smart door locks is the unknown. What will you do if it doesn’t work, how will I enter my house, can they be hacked to gain entry? These are all questions that someone is bound to have when thinking of making the technological change. However, do keep in mind that as they become more popular, processes and procedures will become more common knowledge.

 

What do you need to consider when buying a smart door lock in 2022?

With the start of the new decade there are some things that you may want to consider whilst you shop around for your new smart lock to make sure it is the best model for you.

How smart is it?

Different versions of smart lock will hold different features; all of which will aim to make your life easier. Before buying a smart lock you should consider what features you would like, for example, you can get models that sense when you are approaching the door so will automatically unlock the door for you.

Replace or Retrofit?

Some models require you to completely replace the mechanism within your door where as others can simply be retro-fitted over your existing lock. Retrofitting models can often be installed without professional help and can take only a few minutes whereas models that require replacing your existing lock will most likely need to be installed by a professional.

Smart Home Integration

The ideal smart lock would be easily paired to other smart home devices such as an Alexa, Google Assistant or Homekit for a fully immersive smart experience. Depending on the model, make and brand of smart lock, you should consider what smart objects you might already have and how you would like for them all to interconnect.

Alternative Entry Means

Some smart door locks will come with a manual key override built into the lock should the keyless technology fail, whereas others may have multiple ways of access for example through keypads, key fobs or a fingerprint system. Having multiple ways of access would mean that should there be an issue with one method of access you would still be able to open your door. When buying your smart lock consider what options you will have should your lock fail and what different options of access each model offers.

 

What are the disadvantages of smart locks?

  1. Hacking

Cyber-attacks occur on a regular basis. If your smart lock is connected to the internet, it is just as vulnerable to hacking as your Wi-Fi. Smart lock manufacturers are beginning to recognise the significance of this and are prioritising cyber-attack resistance. This is one of the reasons to get a name brand smart lock rather than a knockoff cheap one, which leads to the following point, the cost.

  1. Cost

In order to get a good smart lock brand, it will be more expensive than getting a normal traditional lock. It is important to consider how much a suitable smart lock will cost you along with the pros and cons of installing it.

  1. Lost/stolen phone

Have you ever had your phone stolen from you? Or even lost it somewhere and never remembered where it was? Your phone makes a smart lock vulnerable. Because your phone is the key, anyone who has access to it has access to not only your personal information, such as text messages and emails, but also an open door to your entire house.

  1. Batteries

Smart locks, unlike ordinary locks and like any smart device, are battery-powered solutions, and we all know how batteries die. This is one warning to which you should pay close attention. If the smart lock indicates that the battery is low, replace it immediately or risk getting locked out.

 

What are the best smart door locks for 2022?

Best Overall: Schlage Z-Wave Camelot Deadbolt

£214.76 from Amazon

A good smart lock may make a huge difference in terms of securing your property in a safe and advantageous manner. This smart lock provides the highest level of security while also distinguishing the ways in which you can lock and unlock the device. This smart lock does more than just give you a lock. From simple keys and codes to 24/7 remote monitoring and control, the Schlage Z-Wave comes at top of the list and overall best.

The Schlage Z-Wave Camelot Deadbolt is a smart lock that combines the best of old and new in a single unit that is easy to install. The lock can be accessed using a keycode, keys, or remote association, and features a touch screen keypad with an implicit alert. It may be expensive compared to many smart locks, but it is well designed and works very well with wireless remote controlling.

 

Best Price: Kwikset Smartcode

£118.52 from Amazon

If you’re looking for a simple way to secure your home every night, smart locks may appear to be too expensive to consider. Generally, there are a lot of budget-friendly options that will provide you with equal levels of security and comfort as the more expensive options.

If you don’t mind foregoing the advanced accessibility characteristics of more expensive locks, the Kwikset SmartCode deadbolt is an excellent way to add smart security to your home. The lock may be opened with a standard key, a keycode, or a bright key that detects the jolt and opens it. Even though it has an old design which is not favourable by many people, it is durable, affordable, and works best with connectivity.

 

Best Aesthetic: Yale Conexis L1

£185.99 from Amazon

This smart lock is the most attractive and discrete model on our list and with all of the different finishes you are sure to find the right colour to fit within your home. Looking like the regular ‘lift and lock’ handles that are commonly seen on uPVC doors, the Yale Conexis L1 is designed to work with existing multi-point locks by replacing the handle and cylinder of the existing lock. This is one of the best smart locks for uPVC doors!

The general functionality of this lock is basic but effective; with the use of the app or a RFID tag you can easily open the door. And as a massive benefit, Yale have designed RFID tags that can be attached to almost anything such as the back of your phone(should you not want to use the app), your bag or even a watch, meaning that with one swipe of a RFID enhanced item you can gain access to your home. Although no external keyway on the door there is a thumb turn internally for easy locking and unlocking once indoors. A downside to this smart door lock however is that it cannot connect to other smart home objects without the use of a Z-Wave module, this optional module (costing approximately £60) will allow the Conexis L1 to connect a SmartThings system.

In summary, we have now only started to see the wonders that using smart technology can do for us, and the ease that it brings. Not only will smart locks give you complete remote control over your door security but they also can come with a wide range of features such as, smart home integration capabilities and forced entry alarms that give you peace of mind that your home is safe. Make sure you read our smart home guide here to know the best smart locks in the UK for front doors and more!

Luggage Locks – The Guide to Luggage Security

Have you booked your trip away for 2021 yet? You may have everything in order but have you remembered to think about the security of your luggage whilst it is in the hands of the airport or when it is sitting in your hotel room when you’re out for the day? Whilst you may have thought to remember to ensure you and your belongings are insured, there is no harm in taking a few extra security measures so you’re not left stressing about your lost things when you’re enjoying your well earned break!

 

Types of Luggage Locks

There are a variety of luggage locks on the market but which is the best to keep your luggage secure to prevent theft? And what is the difference between a combination lock and key lock? Have a look below!

 

Luggage Key Lock Padlock

Luggage padlocks that operate with a key are one of the most popular padlocks on the market as they can be used for a variety of uses from securing your luggage to securing your garden shed.

The benefits of using a simple luggage key lock are that they are cheap and easily found in any local hardware store. On the other hand, these types of locks are easily broken as the keyhole can be subject to interference and keys can be easily lost, rendering the lock useless.

 

Combination Luggage Lock

Combination luggage locks are keyless forms of locking your luggage together, instead of using a key to secure the lock they use a combination of 3+ dials of which the user sets a pin code to gain access once locked.

Combination luggage locks are much more convenient than key operated locks as there are no other compartments to carry around and potentially lose. They are stronger than their counterpart as there is no weak point, as there is no keyhole but again the lock is rendered useless if you forget the code.

 

Cable Luggage Lock

These security luggage locks are similar to combination luggage locks but instead of a stiff shackle it has a flexible, extendable cable so that it can easily pass through multiple zipper points on luggage.

Cable combination locks are perfect if there are multiple compartments on your suitcase or backpack, there is no need to fiddle around with multiple locks as a suitcase cable lock is able to do the job of multiple locks. Additionally, if you wish to secure your luggage to solid objects there are extenders available to buy to be able to do so. The disadvantages of a combination cable lock are the same as a regular combination luggage lock.

 

Key Card Luggage Lock

These locks do not require a key or a combination code to gain access; rather they use a key card to unlock the padlocks.

Key card locks are a great alternative for those who may lose a small padlock key or forget the pin to their combination lock. Most key card locks come equipped with 3 cards, x2 credit card sized so they fit nicely inside a purse or wallet and one smaller to fit onto a key chain, making them harder to lose than standard padlock keys. There is still a disadvantage to these locks as no lock is 100% secure and it is possible to lose all three key cards.

 

Why You Should Use a Luggage Lock

Using a luggage lock can help to deter opportunistic baggage handlers or security officers to rummage through your suitcase or bag at the airport once it’s checked in, furthermore it ensures that your bag stays closed through transit so that your underwear doesn’t become sprawled on the tarmac.

Using a luggage lock just gives that extra layer of security and peace of mind that when you aren’t with your hold luggage that your stuff is secure. We would however always recommend that anything of significant should be carried with you in your hand luggage.

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TSA Approved Luggage Locks

TSA approved luggage locks are great for those travelling to the US. This is because the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) agents are required to spot check through the luggage that comes through US airports. TSA approved luggage locks are all accessible through a universal master key, meaning if your luggage is checked in airport security the TSA can open the lock with the universal key without causing damage to your TSA approved lock or to your suitcase.

If you are travelling to the US and lock your case with a non TSA lock the agents are within their rights to do whatever they have to do in order to gain access, including damaging the lock rendering it useless. These rules are in place to ensure the safety of yourselves and other travellers.

 

Luggage Lock Alternatives

A great alternative to using a luggage lock to keep your zip closed and secure from chance burglars is to use a cable tie. These can be picked up very cheaply in any local hardware store, these will work just as well as a lock to prevent your luggage from spilling open and are much cheaper to replace than a lock should your luggage be checked and prised open by airport security.

 

Luggage Straps

Security luggage straps are a great way to keep your belongings secure against the rough and tumble your luggage goes through at the airport. Luggage straps work by wrapping tightly around a suitcase and clipping shut with a clasp. They are adjustable in length to ensure a snug fit and are available in different colours or with a personalisation option so your luggage is clear to spot amongst the rest.

Additionally, there are security luggage straps on the market which include a combination lock on the clasp which will keep chance burglars at bay as well as some including a name tag so that it is easily identifiable to airport security should you and your luggage arrive at different destinations.

 

Luggage Tracker

Another way to help keep your belongings safe is to buy a GPS luggage tracker. These are usually small, lightweight bits of technology that fit inside your case and most claim that they are traceable from anywhere in the world. The majority of GPS luggage trackers include an app that works with your smartphone so if your luggage was to disappear whilst travelling, you can easily track it down with a click of a button!

 

Clingfilm

Using cling film to wrap around your luggage has been a method used by many for years. Cling film is a one-use plastic and is extremely bad for the environment, so in this case we recommend that you avoid using it for your luggage.

 

The Top 5 Luggage Locks

Diyife TSA Luggage Locks

This suitcase lock is our top pick for the best luggage lock to secure your suitcase. A standard 3 dial combination lock with a cut resistant steel cable that will fit through most zipper holes ensures that not only can this lock be used on pretty much any luggage but your stuff inside is secured as it travels. If you travel to the USA frequently, this lock is even TSA approved and should for any reason they need to open your case, to get their key out they must re-lock this luggage lock.

Coming in a pack of 2, this luggage lock costs £7.99 can be bought from Amazon.

 

eGeeTouch Smart TSA Travel Lock

For those who are tech savy, the eGeeTouch Smart TSA Travel Lock may be for you. The most expensive lock out of our top picks but it takes away the need to remember a combination code or a key and simply opens with the use of a smart phone, smart watch, or the accompanying NFC Fob. Compatible with both IOS and Android, not only does this lock secure your bag but you can use it to track where your luggage is, ensuring that it is always safe. Unfortunately, the battery of this lock isn’t rechargeable, which isn’t the most environmentally friendly as you will have to buy a new lock once it runs out, however the battery life supposedly lasts approximately 3 years! (or 4000 lock/unlock cycles).

You can currently buy a pack of 2 for £35 or a single lock for £19 from Amazon.

 

Master Lock 4688D Combination Lock

One of the most popular locks on the market, the Master lock is a favourite because of its versatility and resistant features. The flexible cable makes it easier to secure zipper holes together. Another 3-number combination lock, this one is TSA approved. Compact, lightweight, and secure this lock is a good choice for all.

Find it on Amazon for £15.98.

 

Tarriss TSA Lock Search Alert

TSA approved but with a built-in search alert, so should you be a frequent flyer to the USA this lock will tell you if your bag has been opened and inspected. The indicator changes from green to red if the lock has been opened by an agent, but otherwise the lock is just a standard 3 number combination lock.

This lock is slightly more expensive at £15 but is well worth the expense if you are a frequent flyer. Find it on Amazon.

 

Forge TSA Approved Ultra-Secure Dimple Key Travel Lock

Known for its durability and versatility, the Forge Lock is a simple key lock, so you don’t have to worry about forgetting or fumbling with a combination lock. Little known fact is that if your luggage is opened by the TSA they are under no obligation to resecure the lock, however with the dimple key they must lock the luggage before they can remove their key.

Find a pack of 2 for £15 on Amazon.

 

What Are Built-in Suitcase Locks?

Built in suitcase are luggage locks that are built into luggage and usually restrict the zips from moving around the suitcase, similar to external luggage locks like padlocks, lockable straps or suitcase cable locks.

The question is it more secure than external added luggage locks? It doesn’t generally make any difference in terms of security as you often get the same amount of security that external luggage locks provide, but we would always recommend paring built in suitcase locks with external ones for extra security!. So, if you like a particular bag, don’t be dissuaded from buying it if it doesn’t have built in suitcase locks as you can always buy external luggage locks.

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Keytek® Locksmiths

For more security tips and information check out the Keytek® Locksmiths blogs on our website! We are the largest Locksmith community providing emergency Locksmith services across the UK!

Amazon Echo vs Google Nest

If you are looking to buy a smart speaker for your home, then the best one for you will depend on your needs. However, there are two huge players in the market that will cover most people’s needs: Amazon Echo range and Google Home. Let’s face it, with Amazon and Google, you know you’re getting a top of the range product, no matter which one you go for. However, picking between the two might be harder than you think. Even within the Amazon and Google ranges, there are different versions and devices you can choose from. With both the voice assistants on these devices becoming more useful and smarter with every update, either device with be able to answer your questions, set timers, set your alarms and much more, with just your voice.

Putting the Amazon Echo and Google Home devices next to each other, they do have similar features and designs; however, there are some differences that you need to consider before choosing which is best for you. Not forgetting that once you have chosen between Amazon and Google, you will then need to choose which device within the ranges will suit your home best.

Have a read of our Ultimate Guide to Home Security for more tips on how to secure your home, and read more about having Smart Home Security.

 

Voice Assistants

Both Echo’s and Google homes have ‘wake’ words to activate the voice control, for Echo’s you simply say ‘Alexa’ and for Google home ‘Hey Google’. Both devices let you control other smart home appliances such as lights or thermostats with voice control.

Alexa seems to be easier to use if you only use the set phrases Alexa likes, but Google assistant is less fussy, you can shout lots of combinations of words at it and its more likely to understand you compared to Alexa. But learning Alex’s set phrases means you can find out more info and uses a wider selection of ‘skills’ with third party apps. Both devices work with big brands such as Phillips and Hive, but you get slightly more integration with the Amazon Alexa.

 

Design 

When it comes to the design of the speakers, we will compare the latest models of each device which are the Google Nest Audio and the 4th generation Amazon Echo.  

The new Echo is spherical in design and comes in a choice of colours; charcoal, twilight blue and glacier white. It also features a LED light ring at the base that adds extra visibility.  

The Google nest has an oblong design and comes in only two colours; charcoal and chalk white. Its rounded corners and 4 led lights do give a sophisticated feel. 

If being good to the environment is high on your list of priorities then both devices have become greener. The Nest Audio is made from 70% recycled material and the Echo fabric and metal components are made from 100% recycled material.  

 

Sound Quality

Amazon have been on a mission to make the sound quality in the Echo better, and in this latest version they have added a 3.0-inch woofer, duel firing tweeter and Dolby processing, so you are getting some pretty decent sound quality with all that. In the Google Nest Audio, does also have a 3.0 woofer; however it doesn’t feature an audio jack so you can’t connect it to speakers.

You can use both of the devices for hands-free calls and play music through a variety of music apps, such as Spotify on both and Google play music and Amazon Music.

 

Price

There is a variety of devices to choose from in both the Amazon and Google range. The cheapest you can get a Google device is around £29, which is for the Google nest mini. Whereas the cheapest Amazon device you can buy is the Echo Dot for around £49.99. If you are looking at the other end of the price scale, Amazon now offer the Echo Show 10, which features a smart display, and you can find that for around £239.99. The most expensive Google speaker is the Nest Hub Max, which also offers a 10-inch display, for around £189.

The prices of the Amazon Echo and the Google Home Nests, are quite similar, however Google probably comes out as the cheapest overall.

 

Are They Safe?

With all this advancement and new technology to help secure your home, people are questioning how secure Alexa or Google is. One main thing that concerns people is that their smart home devise is always listening. Clearly they are listening for any commands you might throw at it, but how much can it hear? Well they do record what you are saying and sends it to a server, but that only when it’s triggered by you saying their wake words. They do have a habit of being triggered by things other than your voice television or radio for instance, so there is a chance snippets of your life will be sent to a server and stored. Amazon and Google have some of the best security in the world to keep this data safe, so it is unlikely that anyone could access this data and use it. However nothing is 100% secure, so there is always a small chance that something could happen.

If you choose to have an Smart Speaker in your home then you will never have 100% privacy. If you did have complete privacy every home assistance device would be completely useless. You can however make your smart speaker more secure with a few simple steps. Mute it when it’s not in use, this will turn off the ‘always listening’ function until you unmute it again, this is easy for both Amazon and Google and there is a ‘mute’ button which you simply press. It’s also wise to disconnect the calendar feature, as a hacker could gain access and know when you are planning to be away from home.

 

Hacking

Anything that is connected to the internet is potentially hackable, so there could be a risk of hacking with a Smart Speaker. It’s more likely that the hacker is your child who asks Alexa or Google to send them toys, which if you have the shopping mode enabled, could happen. There is also a risk that someone with hacking skills could turn your Amazon Echo or Google Nest into a listening device. But you have to weigh up the risks. Why would someone want to listen in on the average person’s life? There are easier and more effective ways to get someone’s bank account details. Some security systems that work with Alexa or Google let you control the door locks with your voice, so we suggest you enable the mute function while you are out of the house to stop people from doing this

There has also been some talk about hackers being able to control smart speakers by using ultrasonic frequencies. This has been named ‘Dolphin Attack’. It involves hackers broadcasting a frequency too high for the human ear to hear, but is audible for your microphone on your smart product. In theory a person would be able to ‘whisper’ commands you cannot hear to your smart device, and if your smart lock is connected, potentially open your door. As advised before, turning off your microphone function when leaving the house is the best way to protect against this kind of attack.

If it’s the fear of a burglar hacking you smart door or alarm system and getting in to you home, that’s stopping you from getting an Amazon Echo or Google Nest, then rest easy. Most burglars are opportunistic and are more likely to kick your door in, smash a window or pick a lock to gain entry to your home. The fact that you have a camera on your door bell or a smart security system may even put burglars off from breaking in, as they are more likely to be identified and caught. On the other hand, when you have a flashy or expensive security system, you run the risk of thieves thinking you have items worth stealing locked inside. But this can be the case with a smart lock, or non smart lock that is out of the ordinary.

 

The Google Nest Range

Google Nest Audio- £89.99

A speaker that is 175mm tall and 124mm wide, features 3 microphones, comes in two colours. No display or touchscreen.

Google Nest Mini- £49

The smallest Google speaker at 50.8mm tall and 101.6mm wide, voice controlled and features better sound quality with 40% stronger bass. No display or touchscreen and it comes in 4 colours.

Google Nest Hub- £49.99

This is more than a speaker, it features a 7-inch touchscreen display and is 118mm high and 178mm wide. It has 2 microphones and comes in a choice of four colours.

Google Nest Hub Max- £219

Google’s largest home hub, it stands 182.55 mm high and 250.1mm wide, this is good device to make video calls and for leaving video messages. It features a 10-inch touchscreen display, 2 microphones and comes in a choice of 2 colours.

 

The Amazon Echo Range

Inspired by Star Trek, the creators of Alexa wanted to be like the crew of the USS Enterprise, who would simply shout out ‘computer’ then give commands or ask questions to the all-knowing devise. The guys behind Alexa wanted to replicate this, but felt that ‘computer’ was a word used to commonly is everyday life. And thus Alexa was born, as having a word that has soft vowels and contains an X is unusual. Amazon Echo devises and Alexa have advanced leaps and bound since its original conception and the dream of having a voice controlled assistant is a reality, as now over 12,000 products have ‘Alexa Skills’.

Amazon Echo Dot- £39.99

Amazons smallest home product at 40.3mm by 90.9mm this is one of the cheapest ways to get Alexa in your home. It uses wi-fi and Bluetooth to connect has a 3.5mm stereo audio output so you can use an external speaker.

All-new Echo- £89.99

The Echo is bigger than the dot, standing at 133 x 144 mm round. It features 76.2 mm neodymium woofer 20 mm tweeters. It also connects using wi-fi and Bluetooth and also features 3.5mm stereo audio output.

Amazon Echo Studio- £189.99

This beast is Amazon’s biggest and most expensive home device being 206 x 175mm. It features three 51 mm midrange speakers, one 25 mm tweeter, one 133 mm woofer with bass aperture to maximise bass output.

Amazon Echo Show- £64.99

Amazon touch screen device has an 8-inch display and 52 mm neodymium speakers with passive bass radiator. Like the other devices, the Show uses Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to connect, but also has the 1 MP camera with built-in cover.

Hive View Outdoor Product Review

Outdoor cameras are a great way in which to secure your home and add another level of security. Not only do they allow for monitoring but also can reduce the cost of home insurance and can act as evidence if the worst should happen. When looking for a security camera, there are many different makes and models which hold different features, so you want to make sure that you pick the best one for you, your needs and your home.

 

Who is Hive?

Hive is a smart product ecosystem that provide many smart home solutions and have an extensive product range varying from thermostats and lightbulbs to sensors and cameras. As one of the UK’s leading smart home provider their mission is to create a network of interacting products that not only make life easier but offer a personalised and connected experience.

 

What is the Hive View Outdoor?

Retailing at £179 and designed by the Swiss industrial designer Yves Béhar, the Hive View Outdoor is the latest in the range of smart home products within the Hive ecosystem and is specifically designed to provide outdoor security and monitoring. Measuring at 2.6 x 2.6 x 2.6 inches, the hive view outdoor camera is designed to sleekly fit onto the exterior of your home and not only provide security and comfort to the homeowner but also act as a deterrent to would be burglars. Click here for further information on Hive outdoor camera review!

 

Features of Hive View Outdoors

Designed for outdoors, this camera has an Ingress rating of IP66, meaning that it is protected from dust, can remain water-resistant from a high water pressure jet with up to a 12.5mm nozzle and can operate in temperatures ranging from -20 oC to 45 oC.

 

With two way audio, 130o wide angle lens, 1080p HD resolution, 8x digital zoom and night vision up to 15ft you are sure to capture all activity outside the home, the Hive Home app will notify you with push messages direct to your phone of any activity. This camera comes standard with a rolling 24 hour video history, in which you can replay any video segments in the last 24 hours, however after that period the storage will reset. Hive does offer an extended storage for a small monthly fee which is dependent on the amount of cameras you have within your Hive Ecosystem. This is a fairly common aspect around security camera video footage and storage but what does make a difference with Hive is the added benefits that come with this monthly fee, such as 10% discount on other Hive products. For the 30 day extended storage it will cost you £3.99 for 1 camera, £5.99 for 2 and £9.99 for up to 5 cameras; the number of cameras will also include any internal Hive View cameras that are within your homes Hive ecosystem.

 

Ingress Rating: The rating given to products that rates the protection of the products enclosure. The first number refers to dust protection and the second number refers to water protection.

 

Set-up and Installation

The hive outdoor camera installation can be difficult especially if one is not technically inclined, but detailed instructions of how to install the Hive View Outdoor are included and you can find multiple videos online of how to properly install the camera with its magnetic stand. The one issue that many may face is that this camera is wired so it does need to be connected to a power source, which many will only have inside. For security reasons this wire will need to be placed through a wall so that no windows are left open leaving your home vulnerable but also so that it has a lower risk of being tampered with by ill-wishers. This can cause an issue for many in the installation phase, however when buying the product in the UK Hive offer the option of professional installation; the engineer will set up your camera and ensure that all the proper precautions are met. This will cost a fee but the peace of mind that your camera itself is installed correctly and secure is worth more long term than the cost to get it professionally installed.

 

Both camera set up and using the camera are very straight forward, all that is needed is to download the Hive app where you are then guided through some very easy to follow instructions that allow you to connect the app to the camera via Bluetooth and then through WiFi. If you have purchased the professional installation they will also take you through this process.

 

App Functionality

What perhaps sets this camera apart from other similar models on the market is the amazing functionality and connectivity of the entire Hive ecosystem and the companion app. Within the app there are 3 different tabs that allow you to control, schedule and monitor the functions of the camera and access any live feeds or stored video footage. The hive camera monitoring schedule tab, allows for 4 pre-set time blocks of which you can program the monitoring of the camera and for when it operates on a daily basis, this means you can set your camera to record at certain times in order to maximise the footage stored or to save electricity. The actions tab allows you to connect all Hive products together to sync up reactions from one product to another; this can create a whole security system when multiple products are used. As a default with the set-up of a Hive camera, all sound and motion alerts will be sent to you. You can however adjust the sensitivity settings on the app to reduce the risk of false alarms for things such as cars or animals.

 

Camera Performance

With a 40ft range in daylight (15ft in night vision but this can be more with less specified sensitivity) and an array of impressive features this camera has all the same features as most other high end cameras on the market. What is great about this camera is that when activity is detected, not only is a push notification sent to your smart phone, but alongside is a thumbnail displaying an up close shot of what has caused the alert so that you can identify the issue before opening the app thus saving you time if it’s only the postman. Once in the app you can access both live and stored footage, and can use finger gestures to zoom and pan the footage to get full control of the camera.

Do be aware that for the most efficient use and performance of this camera you will need to have a minimum of 2.4GHz bandwidth or a WiFi with a speed of 1.5Mbps (Megabites Per Second).

Overall, this camera doesn’t necessarily offer more features than the other high end cameras on the market however what does set this camera apart from its competitors is the functionality of the app and the interconnectivity of all the Hive products. This allows you to create a completely personal and customisable security system around your home, even with just the camera there are so many controls over the functionality of the camera that allow tailoring to your needs. One of the potential downsides to this camera is that it is not compatible to other smart devices such as Google Assistant or Alexa without the use of a Hive Hub, so if you are already within another smart home system without the use of a Hive Hub you cannot connect all of your gadgets without the extra product.

 

What should I look for when buying an outdoor security camera?

You should always consider what you are buying the camera for and what features are priorities for you when researching different makes and models. The general rule is that the more features that a camera offers the higher the price point, however usually spending more on a camera upfront is worth it in the longer term in relevance to security.

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How many security cameras do I need?

It will depend on how many weak points or vulnerable parts of your home you perceive to have and what you want to be covered. The optimal amount of cameras will be dependent on individual needs but it is suggested that your front door and back door are covered.

 

Does the Hive View Record Continuously?

Only when an incident occurs does the Hive View start recording and uploads footage to the cloud. Nest, however, provides continuous recording, so you can get it through Nest!