Wednesday, 30 November 2011

October / November 2011 @ Ipswich Locksmiths Neighbourhood Locks

Firstly sincere apologies for the lateness of this Diary entry. The reason being that after using 'Bravenet' for my Blogs, since late 2009 (and despite winning an award in 2010 for my Blog), 'Bravenet' have in their 'wisdom', suddenly deleted all my entries and my account, without any warning, and without any apparent reason. (Seems I'm not the only one either). Their 'Help' links just take me round in circles too. What a shambles! Fortunately I have all my entries backed-up, but it's taken a while to sort them all out, - time that could have been better spent. I firmly believe 'Bravenet' are simply too unreliable for any serious journal use, therefore I have reposted all entries on 'Blogger' which I will be using from now on.

With the nights drawing in now, it is always a good idea to think about Security, and to re-evaluate. Much of it is common sense, but things to remember if you are going out, is to make sure you leave a light on, or the TV to make some noise. Don't leave valuables in plain sight through windows. Net curtains are always good to help obscure vision. If you have locks on your side gates, then use them! Burglars really don't want to spend time (or make noise) forcing locked gates. Keep windows locked when you're out, and remove the keys. If you DO leave windows open while you're there, then use ones that are fitted with some sort of window restrictor, to limit opening.

This last month, here at Neighbourhood Locks, the Ipswich Locksmiths, we have been asked to fit more of the Higher Security Chubb 5-Lever British Standard Locks, as Insurers are becoming even stricter after break-ins, and usually not paying out unless a 5-Lever British Standard Lock is fitted. These are much heavier in duty than their earlier counterparts, with the latest ones having a 'Bolt' that 'throws' 20mm, whereas the earlier versions had only a 14mm one. They also have additional security features, including anti-drill plates, anti-pick notches, fully boxed-in 'keep', and many have anti-saw rollers in the bolt. All this makes them far superior from the early ones, though even these are better than the 2 lever Bathroom door locks we still see fitted to front doors! I still cannot believe that he general public place such little worth on their property. If you would like us to check your locks are up to Insurers requirements, then please feel free to give us a call for a free, no obligation inspection. As one of Ipswich's top Locksmiths, we are CRB Checked, and fully Public Liability Insured for your peace of mind too.

Photo below shows an earlier style Sash-lock, with the 14mm bolt (below the latch on the left of the lock). The lock below is the modern equivalent, with a 20mm bolt which goes deeper into the door frame, thus offering greater security.

In order to stay at the very top of the Locksmithing Profession, Neighbourhood Locks Ipswich Locksmiths, frequently attend meetings and training sessions around the UK, to keep up with new tools and techniques. I was lucky enough to meet legendary Locksmith Jeff Turner who is Vice Chairman of the Master Locksmiths Association, and who designed the Decoderfor some of the most popular Chubb locks. (Incidentally, they're not really called 'Chubb' now, because they are all part of the Union/Yale/Assa/Abloy Group, but most old-school Locksmiths still refer to them as Chubbs,  though it can cause some confusion as they are in a 'Union' box... but then so are the 'Unions'! ).

The session we had with Jeff was a great insight into the subtleties of the Chubb locks, and their opening techniques, with Jeff being on-hand to answer questions for the day. After a few hours practicing, most of the Locksmiths were opening Chubbs non-destructively, using Jeff's Decoder which is only available to Locksmiths, within a few minutes. In fact Jeff was timed opening an 'unknown' Chubb, in 38 seconds, which is a terrific achievement, considering these are amongst the most secure locks in the world!

In an earlier Blog entry, I mentioned that I have my own range of Locksmiths tools that are used nationally, which I have  designed directly from problems encountered 'on the door'. The number of my tools in use by Locksmiths around the Country, continues to grow as their reputation for making the job easier grows. I am very grateful to my Associates who have encouraged me, and given me valuable feedback regarding the tools I design.

If you require any advice regarding Security issues, please give me a call on 01473 622461.

Until next time.. Stay Safe!

Simon.. your local Ipswich Locksmith

August / September 2011 @ Ipswich Locksmiths Neighbourhood Locks

These last couple of months have been flat-out for Ipswich Locksmiths Neighbourhood Locks, with much of our work coming from recommendations.

We have carried out all manner of jobs, from gaining entry to vehicles, to identifying window locks, and supplying the correct keys from our collection of over one hundred different varieties, - and everything in between!

We are finding we are receiving more and more requests to fit Digital Access Control Locks to Domestic Offices and Studies, as the general public are becoming more aware of the need to protect expensive Computers and sensitive personal documents. These offer a cost-effective way of limiting access, with many have an 'easy-code change' feature, 'key override', and/or 'pass through' which allows the lock to be 'held back' which s convenient if you are passing through frequently, but still nearby.

We've also noticed two extremes with the budgets Customers are spending recently. As far as Cylinder locks go, a few are now asking us for 'cheap' locks, or even 'used-locks.' While we appreciate that it is good to save money, as far as locks go you really do get what you pay for! We've been first on-site after break-ins, and 'lockouts' where springs have literally been hanging out of the lock! It is quite shocking to see, but hardly surprising as some of these Chinese import locks have a trade price of just 17p. It is sad to think that some place such little value on their property, though many of course are likely to have been sold them by 'cowboys' who are just after a quick buck. It is always important to choose your Locksmith very carefully. Ipswich Locksmiths Neighbourhood Locks are CRB checked, and fully insured for Public Liability. There is very little virtue in trying to skimp on home security, at the expense of reliability, and/or the locks deterrent to the Burglar.

Conversely, with Mortice locks, we are getting more requests for Chubb locks, which are the 'Rolls-Royce' of locks, - evident by their ultra-smooth operation. While other brands are good in terms of reliability and security, nothing really comes close to the feel of a key in a Chubb lock. Strictly speaking, they are no longer called 'Chubbs' as the brand has been migrated into 'Union/Yale/Assa/Abloy' after 200 years, though old-school Locksmiths tend to still refer to them as Chubbs, even though they come in a Union box nowadays. These are exactly the same lock as the Chubb, but just re-branded. Rather confusingly, the 'Union' locks, also come in a Union box! The Chubbs feature all the deterrents you would expect from a British Standard Insurance Approved 5-Lever Mortice Lock, including a 20mm-throw Bolt, levers with anti-pick notches, anti-drill hardplates, anti-saw rollers and a fully enclosed 'keep' for the door frame. BS Locks have come a long way since their earlier counterparts.

If you have any concerns regarding Security, please feel free to give me a call on 01473 622461.

Until next time.. Stay Safe!

Simon, your local Locksmith.

June / July 2011 @ Ipswich Locksmiths Neighbourhood Locks

June/July at Ipswich Locksmiths Neighbourhood Locks, was filled with the usual variety of Call-outs, many to deal with jammed UPVc Doors and windows.

There was a higher than usual rate of 'Lock-ins' during this period too. While somewhat rarer than the more classic 'Lock-out', a 'Lock-in' can be just as frustrating and a cause for great anxiety, especially (as in one or two cases), where there is only one door to the property. It can be a very surreal experience for the Locksmith, as in some situations, the initial preamble is conducted not face-to-face, but through the letterbox, with neither the Customer nor the Locksmith having any idea what the other party looks like!

One lady called me, to inform me that she was locked in, as her UPVc door was jammed shut, and although she had phoned her Insurers as the door was covered by her policy, they had said that they would get someone to her within three weeks. That was the point at which she called me, and after my arrival, within around 10 minutes the lady was no longer imprisoned within her home. Not every failed mechanism on a UPVc door actually requires a replacement, though there are some out there that would be only too glad to sell them one. Once the door is open, and the mechanism removed, sometimes all that is required is a 'service', and readjustment. But by far the hardest part, is actually getting a door with one of these systems
open, - some of which have hooks that run down the side of the door and latch into the frame. These things are really NOT meant to be opened easily, in order to deter the burglar, so getting them open is a highly skilled job.

As always, the moral of the story is that if you feel the handle on your UPVc door becoming harder to operate, or if the handles go really loose, then give Ipswich Locksmiths Neighbourhood Locks a call before the door jams, locking you out (or in), which will ultimately cost more as we then have to deal with a 'Lock-out/in' in addition to a Mechanism Service/Adjustment, or replacement.

I was also called to visit a Customer a considerable distance away from me, and out of my 'Usual Service Area', as I had been recommended by someone that I had carried out work for previously. I was surprised to hear that the Customer had called a 'Locksmith' (and I use the term loosely), a few months previously (before they had been given my name), who charged them a phenomenal amount, told them they needed a new lock (which they hadn't got, so never supplied), and didn't actually manage to resolve the problem door, which actually turned out NOT to require a new lock, but only some minor adjustment to the door/frame. The result was another happy Customer.

It is worrying to think that there are so many out there trading, and calling themselves 'Locksmiths' when they are nothing more than 'Handymen' and 'Fitters' who are willing to 'have a go' at sorting the lock out. Many are kitchen fitters etc., that see locks as an easy source of income, particularly as people tend to feel vulnerable regarding locks. The sad truth, is that most things 'lock-related' are highly complex, and take 100% dedication to be at the top of the Industry, and just 'having a go' usually ends up causing more problems. Several times each month, I am called to tidy up the mess that a well-meaning neighbour, or handyman has created in an attempt to deal with a lock-out, or remove a lock. What appears to be the very straightforward task of removing a lock, and setting up and adjusting the replacement, is actually quite involved. One lady phoned me in tears because she was locked-out, and her brother had 'only fitted the lock the day before, so it must be a faulty lock!' When I examined the lock, and the way in which it had been fitted, I was amazed it had worked even once or twice without locking the Customer out. There was nothing wrong with the lock, only that it had been fitted incorrectly. In these times of economic recession, I can understand the urge to save money where possible, but in all honesty, in all my time as a Locksmith, I have never come across a situation where a 'well-meaning' person, replacing a lock, or attempting to 'gain entry' has EVER done anything other than cost their friend or relative more money!

Although one of our main Specialist areas here at Ipswich Locksmiths Neighbourhood Locks is dealing with UPVc Door and window problems, we have also had the usual Safe installations, and problem solving on Digital Door Locks, which are becoming more popular recently. Though these are chiefly used for Access Control on Commercial Buildings, and Offices, they have applications on Domestic Properties as well, with requests for them to be fitted to Home Offices and Studies becoming more frequent. The general public is slowly realising the need to reevaluate their security, with increasing numbers taking up my offer for a 'Free On-Site, no obligation Security inspection.' Some now see good security as an investment, not an expense, - one even going so far as to call their security a 'Status Symbol', as it was 'better than their next door neighbours.'

Ipswich Locksmiths Neighbourhood Locks, are also often asked to supply keys to open windows, where no keys exist. We are able to supply many different window keys, and once again, something as small as this will actually add value to your property if you can show a potential buyer that all windows can be locked and unlocked. Remember also, that it is an Insurance Requirement that all windows accessible from the ground, must be lockable. If you are still relying on non-locking windows, this is something that really needs to be upgraded as soon as possible, as many unauthorised entries are made through non-locked windows, and because of this, Insurers are unlikely to make a payment for a claim, in the result of a break-in.   

If you have any concerns regarding security issues, give Simon a call on 01473 622461, at the Ipswich Locksmiths Neighbourhood Locks.
Until next time...
Stay Safe!

April / May 2011 @ Ipswich Locksmiths Neighbourhood Locks

Although Neighbourhood Locks is best known for being one of Ipswichs 'Non-destructive Entry' Locksmiths, what is less well-known to the public, is that I also design and produce highly specialised tools for Professional Non-destructive Entry Locksmiths. These are gaining a reputation nationally, for the innovative ways in which they work and allow the Locksmith to carry out specific tasks more efficiently.

The latest Lock Tool (which is a Registered Design), approaches a specific situation in a very different way, and has been around 10 months in development, evolving directly from a difficult situation I encountered, which could have been made easier, if this tool had existed.
In May, I gave a  demonstration to a group of Locksmiths on its use, which went down very well. The tool is proving to be successful, with some excellent feedback from around the UK, from those who have used it. If I had been given a pound, for every time a fellow Locksmith had told me to go on 'Dragon's Den' with it, I would have been a very rich man, but as they realised, the very nature of the tool, meant that its details should be kept confidential.

It has been very busy here these last two months at Ipswich Locksmiths Neighbourhood Locks, with a higher than usual rate of call-outs to gain entry to Garages, either through failed locks, or lost or stolen keys.

One was particularly unusual, and probably ranks as one of the most unusual call-outs we have ever been asked to attend. The Customer called us to ask if Neighbourhood Locks could open a garage door non-destructively. I arrived on-site, with a selection of appropriate lock picks, and a quick inspection of the lock showed that it was unlocked, and in fact the only thing that prevented the door opening, was the considerable amount of ivy, shrubs and other foliage which surrounded, and was attached to the door and frame. As I had arrived equipt to pick a lock, and unfortunately didn't have a Strimmer, Hedge Trimmer or Weed Killer with me, suggested that this job was perhaps more suited to a Gardener, than a Locksmith.

With all the hot weather, Neighbourhood Locks have been inundated with calls to resolve a whole host of UPVc Door and Window-related problems, including failed mechanisms, which in some cases locked the Owners out, so there was not only a 'gain entry' situation to deal with, but additionally the replacement of the mechanism. If you find that you are having to exert more force on the door handle, or if the handle becomes loose, then this is the time to give us at Neighbourhood Locks a call. If this is dealt with swiftly, then it will cost less in the long run, as we wont be up against the 'Lockout situation'. We are able to open, replace and upgrade all UPVc Door Mechanisms, and in many cases they will simply need some adjustment, without the need for any parts. Along with the restoration of antique locks, and hand-making keys, we are Specialists in all UPVc Door and Window mechanisms, and are happy to advise you. It is also important to bear in mind that you can have all the hooks and bolts you like, running down the edge of your door, but this mechanism is only going to be as good as the actual lock fitted. Although to the untrained eye, most locks on UPVc doors appear to be the same, they do in fact, vary terrifically, in terms of quality, reliability and security. Many locks come with Anti-pick pins, Anti-lock Bumping features, hardened Anti-drill pins, and Anti-snap features, which all make it significantly harder for unauthorized entry. With Burglars using some methods to attack your lock, there are no signs of forced entry, so it is difficult to prove to your Insurers that a break-in actually occurred. 

Neighbourhood Locks are happy to advise about all aspects of security, both for your home or commercial premises, free of charge (subject to availability), and can upgrade the locks on your UPVc Doors, or fit additional Sash Jammers to windows. If your locks are over five years old, chances are they do not feature the latest in anti-break-in technology.

Neighbourhood Locks were asked to have a look at a 'problem' lock in a block of Flats. The lock turned out to be a 'Wellington Cylinder'. These are lovely little locks, and from the front vaguely resemble a standard Yale Cylinder, although the Keyway is somewhat different. The Wellingtons feature miniature levers, in much the same way that a Mortice Lock does, rather than the more conventional pins of the Yale type Locks. I stripped the lock down on-site, as well as the lockcase (which the cylinder fits into), and gave both a thorough Service, clean and lubrication, which resulted in the lock working as good as the day it was made, and a very happy Customer.

Along with our usual Insurance Work, we receive calls from the Letting Agents in Ipswich, to deal with 'gain entries', and then to replace the locks, where Tenants have left without leaving the keys. As we do not charge VAT, we find we are getting asked to offer these services more frequently.

Ipswich Locksmiths Neighbourhood Locks also fit a variety of Safes, to suit the situation and budget, including Fire Safes, Laptop Safes, Gun Safes etc. We are happy to advise on the most suitable types, including easy-to-use Digital Home Safes (with Key Overrides), Key-only Safes etc.

Until next time..

Stay Safe.. Simon, your local Ipswich Locksmith.

February / March 2011 @ Ipswich Locksmiths Neighbourhood Locks

February and March proved to be another 'mixed bag' for Ipswich Locksmiths Neighbourhood Locks, and kept us constantly busy with the usual lock changes after break-ins, and where Customers had moved home.

I recently read statistics that show that an alarmingly high percentage of those that move home, have not changed their locks, although the chances are that neighbours, friends, family members, gardeners, cleaners, tradesmen etc., have keys to the property from the previous occupier. With such a serious potential security risk, it is no wonder that both The Home Office and Neighbourhood Watch recommend that the locks are changed when moving home.

Neighbourhood Locks the local Ipswich Locksmiths have also seen a marked increase in the amount of Customers requesting us to fit Digital locks to doors. These are great for Home Offices, and Workshops etc. and allow access to be gained once a number code is punched in. It saves having to worry about using keys where the door is used frequently. The code can be easily changed on most, and some also have a 'pass through' feature, which allows the door to be left unlocked which is great if you are passing through the door of your Home Office regularly, but are still close by to it. Most also have a key override, for emergencies.

 I was also asked to have a look at a lock that didn't work properly. When I arrived onsite, I was amazed to find that it was a 'latch type lock' made by Chubb in 1896, bearing their crest from their days at Queen Victoria Street. I suggested that I restore it to it's former glory.
Once I'd stripped the lock down, it was apparent that the spindle had broken, which was understandable as it was quite a complex affair, varying in width several times along it's length. From the research I've done on this lock, it would appear that the lock was modified at some point in it's history, to operate in a similar way to a modern 'Thumbturn'. In order to get the lock to function again correctly, I fabricated a new spindle, and generally 'tidied' up the levers and mechanism. I must admit that I felt a sense of awe while working on the lock, realising that someone had put it together by hand over 100 years previously! The lock is now back in it's original location, and I hope that it will last a further 100 years.

Neighbourhood Locks visited the Locksmith's Exhibiton in Nottingham, where we met up with other Locksmith Colleagues, to see the latest developments in all things lock-related. It was good to meet Locksmith Legends such as Chris Belcher & Paul Souber who are always at the cutting edge of new developments too. The Stands of vintage locks was of particular interest to me though, with locks from Prisons two or three hundred years old on display. I spent much more time talking to the two gentlemen there, than I had realised, but Heritage Locks is an area that fascinates me a great deal. The amount of satisfaction I get from making something work again, is immense. I also had a quick chat with World Champion Key Impressioner Jos Weyers, who was over from Holland for the Exhibition. Jos had given me a valuable insight into the technique of Key Impressioning last year in Covent Garden. 'Key Impressioning' is the art of taking a blank key and hand filing it to make it work in a lock, only by looking at, and interpreting the marks left on the key by the lock. Sadly, it is a dying skill now. The World Championship contest lasts and hour and a half, giving a good length of time for the top Key Impressioners in the world to get their locks open. Jos holds a World Record for Key Impressioning at just 67 seconds! My best time is currently 81 seconds, so I really need to try harder!

Until next time... Stay Safe
~ Simon, your local Ipswich Locksmith

January 2011 @ Ipswich Locksmiths Neighbourhood Locks

In the run-up to Christmas, Neighbourhood Locks, the local Ipswich Locksmith, were asked to attend a considerable number of lockouts. During the Christmas period, we all have much on our minds, so it is understandable how easy it is to become locked out. In almost all of the cases, we managed to get the Customer back in to their properties swiftly, and more importantly, without the need to destroy their lock, as we specialise in 'Non-destructive Entry'. In the few cases where the lock failed to respond to NDE, and it was necessary to destroy the lock, we replaced it free of charge. This is our unique guarantee as Ipswich Locksmiths, that we will replace your lock free of charge, if we need to destroy it to gain entry, other than in the case of a faulty lock, or security-compromised one.

After the Christmas blues, the Vat increase hasn't been good, however here at Neighbourhood Locks, we are pleased to announce that we still charge NO VAT at all, so effectively you are receiving a 20% discount when you use our services.

We received one call during a heavy snowfall one evening at about 7pm, from a lady that said that she needed to open her shed door, but that the lock had failed. I must admit I wondered what the urgency was to open a shed door, but once she told me that the children's Christmas presents were inside, and that another locksmith she had phoned refused to come out as it was snowing, was hoping I would help. Even though the Client was located in a remote village some distance from us, I assured her that her shed door would be open within the hour, which it was, much to her delight! It is call-outs of this nature that make being a Locksmith such a rewarding Profession.

That reminds me of a call-out I received last Christmas, which involved me changing the lock on a back door, for a lady that had just moved in. When I arrived, there were Plasterers there, who warned me about a 'large dog' that had just bitten the Electrician. I laughed assuming they were joking, but he told me he meant it and that the Electrician had just gone up the hospital. Anyway, the lady of the house got the dog out of the way, while I went down the hall, into the kitchen, (which incidentally had a half glazed door between it, and the hall), which of course remained firmly closed to keep the dog from me. Anyway, there I am, working on the back door, when my mobile phone goes.

'Hello. It's me ****' (The Client). 'I just went out the front door to take the rubbish out, and the door has slammed behind me, and I'm locked out. Can you come and let me in?'.

'No' I replied.

'Why not?'

'Because your dog is the other side of the kitchen door, and wont let me out. Can I get round the side?'

'No. It's a long walk down a lot of streets and will take ages, but just tell the dog to 'SIT!' and push past it.'

'I can't. Listen.' (I hold the phone up to the kitchen door, so she can hear the dog growling and barking at me. It was also jumping up, and hammering on the door and baring its teeth, though naturally this aspect would have been missed on the phone).

'OK. Yes, you're right. DON'T open the door, or he WILL go for you!'

So I didn't. I got on with my work, and eventually her husband came home, with a key. It was so ironic that there was a Locksmith within 30 feet of a 'lockout', but couldn't do a thing.

Another call-out this Christmas, was from a lady who informed me that she needed a lock changing. I asked her the circumstances, as we always require as much information as possible in order to assess what's required, and she informed me that she was locked out. I told her that she would need me to gain entry first, and then I could change the lock, and she then told that her boyfriend could get them back in, and that wasn't a problem, but they would need a new lock. Curious as I was, I asked how he would gain entry, as it was a skilled job, and I was shocked to be told that he would 'kick the door' in, to 'save money'. I have no idea how much they thought a new door and frame would be, but I know that it would have been vastly more expensive than our fees for Non-destructive Entry! The last time I received a quote for a new door, it was around £600.

In every single case where a well-meaning neighbour, or the property owner themselves has attempted to gain entry, it has always ended up costing more, and usually turning what could be a 10 minute opening, in to a much longer job.

Neighbourhood Locks were called to attend what we assumed was a typical failed UPVc door mechanism, but which upon examination turned out to be a long-obsolete mechanism, which I wasn't at all confident about being able to source, and warned the Client of this, explaining that worst-case scenario, would be to replace it with something 'close', though that could need considerable work, however I promised to do my utmost to find the correct replacement. I managed to surprise myself, by locating one of the last three in the country, which made replacing the defective gearbox a straightforward job. Once again the Client was extremely happy, and said that he would be happy to recommend us.

Until next time.. Stay Safe

~ Simon, your local Locksmith, Ipswich.

December 2010 @ Ipswich Locksmiths Neighbourhood Locks

The last two months has provided the usual 'mixed bag' variety of call-outs for Neighbourhood Locks the Ipswich Locksmith, with everything from a request to open a 'Roof box' mounted on top of a 4x4, to a 'Safe', along with all the usual situations such as opening garages, dealing with failed UPVc Door Mechanisms, failed 'rack-bolts', and on-site key cutting.

With the cold weather upon us once again, these 'rack-bolts' (and indeed UPVc Door mechanisms), have a tendency to fail dramatically as doors contract with the cold. 'Rack-bolts' are small bolts that are operated from the inside of the door, with a key that looks somewhat similar to a Philips Screwdriver. Sometimes if they are not lined up correctly (because a door warps), when the bolt is wound along its mechanism, the teeth become stripped by the key, resulting in the bolt failing to lock, or, more awkwardly, unlock. These mechanisms are quite delicate in places, and consequently if you find that they become stiff to operate, never force them, but give us a call to resolve the problem before they break completely. It's a relatively quick 'fix', and will save inconvenience in the long run.

The same is also true of UPVc door mechanisms, which also suffer from going out of adjustment in the extreme temperatures. We were called to open a completely failed UPVc door mechanism recently, where the handle had apparently become progressively harder to operate, until ultimately it failed, making it impossible for the Customer to use the door. We opened the door for them, and replaced the mechanism, and also adjusted the door which had dropped slightly, and may have been contributory to the mechanism failing. We also cut extra keys for the new lock, which resulted in a happy Customer, as they didn't have to travel into town for extra keys, and face the possibility that they wouldn't work.

We were also asked by another Customer, if we could make their Yale lock work from the same key as the one they used to open their back UPVc door, their side door, and sliding patio doors, as they had a large bunch of keys, and were quite anxious to try and cut down on the number they needed to carry! Here at
Ipswich Locksmith Neighbourhood Locks, it is a straightforward task to make several cylinder locks work from just one key. It involves repinning each lock, to the original configuration of (in this particular case) the Yale lock, but it is a worthwhile service if you find you have to carry a considerable bunch of keys with you. 

In mid-November, I was invited to give a demonstration on 'Key Impressioning' to a group of fellow Locksmiths in Hampton. 'Key Impressioning' is something that I am passionate about, and involves hand-filing a key from a blank, to make it work in a lock, by just examining the marks left of the blank key. It has many uses, but is really a dying art in Locksmithing these days. It is particularly useful to use when a Customer is locked out, but they have a key, in their property, so it would be beneficial to open the lock non-destructively if at all possible. It can also be used for opening vintage 'warded' locks, such as those found on Antique caskets, writing desks, and other items of furniture which have locks. Neighbourhood Locks get requested frequently, to rebuild (and make-up keys for) antique furniture locks, and refurbish them to their former glory.

One of the most interesting call-outs durning these last two months, was to open what I thought would be a standard cupboard lock, where a piece of the key had broken off in the lock. After successfully gaining entry to the cupboard, and removing the lock, I was delighted to see it was a very nice brass, miniature 'four lever' lock, which Ipswich Locksmith Neighbourhood Locks stripped down, cleaned and serviced, bringing the lock back up to it's original standard. It is common for these locks to lose the 'pin' that the 'piped-key' slides onto when inserted, which means that there is nothing to 'index' the key to the levers, and so turning the unaligned key, forces the levers, and can break the key. In a situation such as this, the 'pin' needs to be replaced correctly, in order for the lock to function as intended.

With the first falls of snow, Neighbourhood Locks have seen a noticeable increase in 'Lockouts', in some cases due to lost keys in the snow. One recent lockout, saw me 'doing battle' with one of the most badly fitted/maintained Yale Locks I have ever seen. There was so much movement in the lock, that it proved unresponsive to usual non-destructive entry techniques. I am sure that if the lock had been tightened up correctly, and maintained it would have been more straighforward, but nevertheless, I managed to gain access to the property, much to the relief of the Customer.

Until the next installment,

Stay safe!

Simon ~ your Local Ipswich Locksmith

October 2010 @ Ipswich Locksmiths Neighbourhood Locks

"Neighbourhood Locks" Diary Blog, wins Award! Photobucket

I would like to thank all at for choosing Neighbourhood Locks, as a recipient of your 2010 Top Blog Award!

It is really greatly appreciated, and it's always good to know that readers enjoy keeping up to date with our Security News, and various 'adventures' within the 'Locksmithing Profession'.

Many thanks once again, Simon Barber / Neighbourhood Locks
"Congratulations! This is K***, and your blog, Neighbourhood Locks, is a recipient of our 2010 Top Blog Award!

Nothing is more important to us than safety.  So we've teamed up with HomeSecuritySystems to provide the very best resources to keep you and your family safe.  So we've scoured the internet looking for the best available, and your blog was one of them!"

August / September 2010 @ Ipswich Locksmiths Neighbourhood Locks

August / September saw a marked increase in the amount of Clients requesting that Ipswich Locksmiths Neighbourhood Locks visit, to see if their home security would meet general Insurance Requirements, and would prove effective.

In a few cases, we were pleased to see front doors fitted with British-Standard 5-lever locks, which their Insurers would approve of, and would be likely to make a payment for, in the event of a 'Break-in'. We also noted in these cases, that ground floor windows were fitted with locks too, again compliant with Insurance requirements. In situations where a British-Standard Mortice lock could not be fitted, we noted that a British-Standard Auto-deadlocksng Nightlatch had been fitted.

In some of the homes Neighbourhood Locks were called to though, we saw that several front doors relied on nothing more than a non-British-Standard, non-Insurance-Approved 2, or 3 lever low-security lock, that is intended for a Bedroom, or Bathroom. We have been called to break-ins where these types of locks have been simply opened, and being non-Insurance Standard, the Insurers refused to pay out. It is worrying that the general public consider the security of their home as low priority, - only asking us to fit our 'best' and 'most secure' locks after a Break-in has occurred. We have also seen a rise in Clients asking us to install 'Pickbuster', anti-lock bumping treatment to their existing locks. At only £10 per lock, it is a quick and effective way to help protect against 'Lock Bumping'.

Many of our Clients were also surprised to learn that if their garage joins onto their home, and has a door leading from the inside of the garage to the home, then, for insurance purposes, the outer garage door also requires a 5-lever British-Standard Mortice, or BS Nightlatch, Insurance approved Lock.

Neighbourhood Locks, the local Ipswich Locksmith would recommend you to check the 'faceplate' on the visible edge of the lock, and if it states '2 lever', or '3 lever', to give us a call for a free, no obligation security check.

These last few weeks, we have covered all manner of call-outs in Ipswich, Woodbridge, Kesgrave, Martlesham, Rushmere and further afield, fitting 'secondary security' (such as door 'chains' and 'restrictors'), to opening a locked garage door that had remained unopened for several years (and then replacing the lock), to dealing with the usual 'Lockout' situations.

I was slightly amused by one comment from a Client, that seemed somewhat surprised that I was using Professional 'Picks' to gain entry to his property, and stated 'you're not going to use a piece of bent paperclip then, - like they do in the films?'

I was also asked to resolve a problem lock, that turned out to be about 45 years old if it was a day! It was a well-known brand, and just goes to show that some of the 'big names' in locks are much better value, and can last for years. As the lock was rather special, and not something we see too often, I offered to repair/rebuild it, much to the Clients relief, as I believe the lock had some sentimental value.

It was also with mixed feelings, that Neighbourhood Locks fitted one of the very last Chubb Branded  'Chubb 114' Mortice Locks to be made, to a Client local to me. After almost 200 years, due to
brand licensing agreements, the 'Chubb' name will be no more, but will be superseded by the name 'Chubb-at-Heart'. Since 2000, Chubb locks have been manufactured by 'Assa Abloy', which will now be migrated to Yale, and Union. For the Customer though, nothing but the name will change, because the Chubb name we have all known and trusted for years, will live on as 'Chubb-at-Heart'.

With the colder weather upon us, we will now see a rise in failed Mechanisms on UPVc doors, as the door itself contracts in the cold. UPVc doors (and windows) suffer from expansion and contraction in extreme temperatures, with the handle/lock becoming harder to operate. Sometimes it is simply a matter of making some adjustments, - especially if caught early enough. If neglected however, the constant forcing of the handle/lock will eventually break something, which will cost more in the long run. We change a considerable number of these mechnisms each week, which would not have needed replacing if they had been adjusted sooner. Check out Neighbourhood Locks UPVc page for more details.

Until next time.. take care and Stay Safe!

Simon, ~ your local Locksmith

June / July 2010 @ Ipswich Locksmiths Neighbourhood Locks

June was so busy, that it came and went before we had time to update Ipswich Locksmiths Neighbourhood Locks, Blog!

The range of jobs we are being asked to undertake lately, is extremely varied, which always makes for an interesting time. Many of our Clients have called us in, in an attempt to solve problems that previous 'Locksmiths' have attempted, and been unable to do, and we have built up a reputation for succeeding, where others have failed to either do the job properly, or at all. One had been unable to open a window for the last few years, with two others having looked at it, and been unable to resolve the problem. Neighbourhood Locks, the local Ipswich Locksmith, opened the jammed window non-destructively, within three minutes, and replaced the faulty mechanism afterwards. As Ipswich's only Member of The Institute of Certified Locksmiths, we will always use 'Non-destructive Entry' as our first choice, rather than simply destroying the lock or mechanism, and charging for a new one, as many National Companies do. Always make sure the Locksmith you call, is either a member of 'The Institute of Certified Locksmiths', or the 'Master Locksmiths Association', as these are the only two recoginised Trade Associations, who vet members strictly, both for security, and for competance.

We were also asked to gain entry to two different locked garages, where keys had been lost. One Client was most surprised that Ipswich Locksmiths Neighbourhood Locks had the door open Non-destructively, within a few minutes. We then proceeded to fit a new 'British Standard' 5-Lever Deadlock to the building, to ensure that it was Insurance Compliant.

Neighbourhood Locks were also asked to Gain Entry to a Sweet Shop in the centre of Ipswich, after the lock had been damaged in what may have been an attempted break-in. Access was gained very swiftly, and the damaged lock replaced, which was quite a challenge, and did take a bit longer than normal, as it was 'Father's Day', with a constant flow of Customers in and out of the shop!

The following day, we received a call to an Industrial Estate, where a member of Staff had gone to lock the Unit up, only to find that the locking mechanism had failed completely. They had been given our number by 'Talking Pages' as having a 'Five-Star' rating, and after a short period on-site, we had ensured that the Unit was secure once again.

Ipswich Locksmiths Neighbourhood Locks, were also asked to make up a key to an antique Grandfather Clock, and to open, repair and supply keys for an antique writing desk. This sort of work can be amongst the most interesting and satisfying of all to an old-school Locksmith, as it really puts the 'Smithing' side to the test. The desk lock was opened easily, and then removed, and later stripped down, cleaned, and rebuilt. It is a 'pin' lock, which means that the key would be 'piped' (or have a hole in the end which lines up on the pin in the lock). The pin itself had fallen out, and this, and other small problems had all contributed to the locks failure to work correctly. Once the lock had been rebuilt, Ipswich Locksmiths Neighbourhood Locks, then hand-made a number of piped keys to fit. This is very specialised work, which many cannot undertake these days, although we enjoy keeping the true art of Locksmithing alive.

Local Ipswich Locksmiths Neighbourhood Locks, have also had the usual 'Lockouts' and failed UPVc Door Mechanisms, and are pleased to report that generally Clients are calling us now at the first signs of failure, including 'stiff operation' and 'drooping handles' rather than waiting until the mechanism has failed completely, so locking them out.

Many have told us that they specifically called us, after reading the UPVc Section of our Web-site. These mechanisms do tend to fail with extreme changes in the temperature, as the heat, and cold cause the door to expand and contract.

If you have any lock-related problems, please feel free to call us on 01473 622461.
Until next time, Stay Safe! Simon.

May 2010 @ Ipswich Locksmiths Neighbourhood Locks

May, so far, has seen a larger than usual proportion of 'Lockouts', due to either failed locks, or 'lost key scenarios'.

Regarding the failed locks, we are seeing more of these failures that are only a few years old. With locks available now in 'pound shops', to some, these may appear to be an appealing option, though the low cost has to be weighed up against how much you value your home's security, and the likelyhood of failure of the lock, which often results in the owner being locked out. Many of these are not even 'Insurance approved', meaning that in the event of a 'Break-in', your Insurers will pay you nothing. At Ipswich Locksmiths Neighbourhood Locks, we only fit Insurance rated Locks. Even the well-known brands of lock vary in terms of operation, though most are reliable. With locks, you definitely get what you pay for, and in our opinion nothing matches the genuine Chubb Locks, for reliability and smoothness of operation. They are also very dificult to pick-open, so go a good way towards securing your door. All this comes at a premium though, as Chubb Locks are at the upper end of the price scale. As well as Chubb Locks, we also fit those made by Union, Securefast and Era, and have something to fit all budgets.

Neighbourhood Locks has a policy of continually advancing our knowledge and skill, through Training, of all aspects of Locksmithing, in order to remain at the top of the Profession, which is continually advancing as new technologies become available. With this in mind, we recently attended a Training Session in London about 'Key Impressioning'. (This is the second one we have attended). 'Impressioning' is the highly useful, but dying skill, of taking a blank key, putting it in the lock, removing it, and looking for any marks left, and then filing these 'impression marks' away until you have a working key. It is a skill that is generally considered to be too difficult to master unless you are really dedicated and to spend many hours practicing. It has many potential uses, such as making up keys for old 'Church locks', or for furniture locks, antique cabinets etc. The Training Workshop was given by 'Impressioning' Legends Oliver Diederichsen (who wrote the book 'Impressioning') and Jos Weyers who holds the current World Record for Impressioning a Key at just 87 seconds. The day was very informative, with all aspects of the theory of Impressioning covered, and the equipment necessary to carry it out successfully. Jos and Oli were on hand the whole day, giving demonstrations, and offering advice. The Locksmiths who attended, had a go at Impressioning, with some opening locks successfully, including ourselves. It is a skill that takes much practice, but very worthwhile, and as Oli has said 'it is the most interesting way of opening a lock'.

If you have any concerns about any aspects of security, please give Neighbourhood Locks the Ipswich Locksmiths a call, on 01473 622461. Until next time, Stay safe!

April 2010 @ Ipswich Locksmiths Neighbourhood Locks

What a month April was for Ipswich Locksmiths Neighbourhood Locks! Every other call-out was for a failed UPVc Lock, Gearbox, or Mechanism Strip.

When a problem develops wth a UPVc door (or window, for that matter), it isn't always an expensive job, especially if the fault is corrected swiftly. In the first instance, the problem can sometime be resolved by just making a few adjustments to the 'keeps' on the frame. The 'Keeps' are the metal plates and boxes, that the door bolts, latches, hooks, rollers etc. go into once the door is locked. Over time, these 'keeps' can go out of adjustment, sometimes moving subtly, - just enough, that once the lock is engaged, it causes extra friction, as the bolt hits the 'keep', instead of entering it smoothly. Adjusting these can be tricky, and a degree of patience is required to determine which of the 'keeps' is actually the cause, and to correct it. If this initial adjustment isn't resolved, more tension is required to 'throw' the bolts/hooks etc. which is done by applying more force to the door handles. This in turn causes wear to the 'gearbox', which is the mechanism situated behind the handles and lock, that actually 'drives' the hooks/rollers/bolts etc. The Gearbox usually contains a significant number of gear-wheels, arms and springs etc. all of which become 'over-stressed' by the extra force needed to 'throw' the bolts. This normally causes the Gearbox to fail, usually by stripping the teeth from one of the gears, or by making the handles inoperative. Once the handles cannot do their job, which is to retract the latch/hooks/bolts/rollers etc. the door cannot be opened, and the situation needs to be treated as a 'Lockout'.

When we are called out to assess a UPVc Lock problem, it could be that just an adjustment is required. sometimes the lock itself has developed a fault, and requires replacing. Not all locks are created equal! In other situations, it becomes necessary to replace the gearbox, and occassionally the entire Multipoint Locking Strip. Cases where the complete strip requires replacing, usually occur when the failed gearbox is only available as the complete strip unit, or because a part of it has become badly worn, for example hooks or 'shootbolts' that fail to fully retract.

At Neighbourhood Locks the Ipswich Locksmiths, we carefully assess the situation, (and much information can be gained over the telephone when you talk to us), and will advise you once on-site, what is required to make your Locking system function correctly again. We will never sell you parts that we do not think are needed, in order to keep your costs down. We charge no Call-out fee, and are happy to come along and advise you about what is required.

Neighbourhood Locks have built up a reputation of being able to resolve UPVc door and Window related problems, that others have refused to do because they consider them to be too specialised.

If you have any concerns regarding your UPVc Locking mechanism, please give us a call on 01473 622461.

March 2010 @ Ipswich Locksmiths Neighbourhood Locks

March has proved to be another mixed-bag for Ipswich Locksmith Neighbourhood Locks.

We have had a number of calls to replace more failed UPVc Door Mechanisms, and also the UPVc Locking Window Handles. Generally, these mechanisms have a limited lifespan, depending on use, and once the door handles become either stiff to operate, or feel excessively loose, then it is really time to give us a call at Neighbourhood Locks the Ipswich Locksmith, and discuss options. Once a UPVc Door Mechanism fails, (especially those with hooks that engage into the frame once the handle is operated), they can fail quite dramatically, locking the owner out. Sometimes it is just a case of making a simple  adjustment, but if you have any concerns regarding UPVc Mechanisms, please give us a call, as it's much easier to replace the failing mechanism of a door that can be opened, rather than waiting until it's failed completely, and having to deal with a locked door.

As Ipswich's only Member of 'The Institute of Certified Locksmiths', we are always looking to improve upon our skills as Professional Locksmiths. The 'ICL' is one of the two major Professional Organisations for Locksmiths, - the other being the 'Master Locksmiths Association'. Always make sure you choose a member of the ICL, or MLA). The 'ICL' is aimed at locksmiths who 'aspire to the highest standards', and who use 'non-destructive entry' whenever possible, to gain access for those locked-out, and our ideal, is to continually gain more knowledge of all lock related aspects.
Earlier in the month, Neighbourhood Locks attended the 'ICL Convention' in Nottingham. It made for a very interesting day, and had a very good turn out from Trade Suppliers, demonstrating the lastest in security products. Yale were as usual doing great business, promoting the security benefits of their British Standard Yale Nightlatch, which features 'automatic deadlocking' and is Insurance and Police Approved. Most of the 'big' names in Locks were represented, along with products from Union, Chubb, Sterling etc. The new locks, make those of just a few years ago look quite primitive now, offering comparatively limited security against the latest 'threats'.

Some of the latest replacement cylinders for UPVc-type doors, feature 'pin in pin' and magnetic pins, making them significantly more secure against the threat of 'Lock Bumping'. You definitely get what you pay for with locks, and it never ceases to amaze us here at Neighbourhood Locks in Ipswich, how people will skimp on their home's security, until after the 'horse has bolted'. Some of the locks we see, offer virtually no protection at all, with the potential for 10-second openings without any sign of forced entry, which of course makes it hard to prove to your Insurers that there actually was a break-in.

The same is true to a certain degree of Mortice Locks. We see several every week on front doors, that are NOT designed for external use, and are suitable only for applications such as bedroom doors. The most worrying aspect of all, is that most do not realise that in the event of a burglary, their Insurers would be unlikely to pay-out. Check and see if your lock is a 'British Standard 5-Lever Mortice'. If it isn't, you are unlikely to be covered.

While at the ICL Convention, Neighbourhood Locks attended a very interesting 'Workshop' on 'Key Impressioning', which is taking a blank key, putting it in a lock and moving it in order for the pins in the lock to leave 'impressions' on the key, then carefully filing those marks and repeating the process until a working key is made. This is a dying skill within the Profession, and something that can be most useful. It is skills such as these, that keep us at the top of the Profession.

If you have any security concerns at all, please give us a call here at Ipswich Locksmiths Neighbourhood Locks, on 01473 622461.

Stay safe!

January / February 2010 @ Ipswich Locksmiths Neighbourhood Locks

The beginning of 2010 has provided a great variation of the type of call-outs we are getting here at Ipswich Locksmiths Neighbourhood Locks. Everything from a Commercial assignment that required a 32mm hole to be drilled through a stainless steel fire door in order to upgrade locking hardware, through to completely rebuilding, repinning and hand filing an initial new key for a lock, for a Post Office. On more than one occcassion, we were pleased to be told that we were the only ones that were agreeable to carrying out the work, because it was considered 'too specialised'. All this has made for a very interesting and busy few months.

We received a call recently to rebuild an ageing Church lock, which had become progressively harder to operate. This proved to be very interesting, with some fabrication needed in order to make the lock function again correctly. These old locks are truly remarkable to work on, even though the time taken to return them to their former glory can be considerable. It really is a labour of love.

Along with the more usual Mortice Lock fitting, and replacing after break-in/lost key scenarios, we have also seen an increase in being called to gain entry to vehicles for owners who have inadvertently locked their car keys inside. One Client we visited, had the misfortune to have done this twice in one day, but we were happy to gain access, causing no damage at all to the vehicle.

Neighbourhood Locks also received a call to gain entry to a property, after a lost key scenario, where a well-meaning neighbour had attempted to get the Owner of the property back inside, by hammering on the Yale-type cylinder with (judging by the amount of damage!) a lump hammer! When we arrived on-site, the front of the cylinder had pieces missing from it, as had the door and door frame. The latch bolt had been deformed so badly, that there was no hope to gain entry using the conventional 'non-destructive entry' methods which we use at Neighbourhood Locks Ipswich Locksmith whenever possible. We managed to get the Client safely inside, but what would normally have been a job of a few minutes, with no new lock parts needed, ended up taking somewhat longer, and the Client needing to pay for a new lock. In a situation like this, it is much more cost-effective to give us a call right away.

We have adjusted a lot more 'Rack bolts' recently too. These are the little bolts that are fitted into the edge of the door, and drawn across using a 'Star Key', until the bolt fits into a hole in the door frame. With all this damp weather, wooden doors can have a tendency to warp, and the bolt then does not line up correctly with the hole in the door frame. Sometimes the Client will then attempt to force the rack bolt across, and shear the teeth from the internal mechanism, making the situation worse, as these teeth are not particularly strong. If the bolt is working as it should do, then only a light amount of pressure on the 'key' is needed. Anything more, is a sign that all is not well, and should be corrected before something fails.

Tomorrow we have an early booking to replace a failed UPVc Window handle, and then on to remove a broken key from a lock!

If you have any lock, door, or security-related concerns, please give us a call on 01473 622461
Stay safe!
Simon - Ipswich Locksmiths Neighbourhood Locks

December 2009 @ Ipswich Locksmith Neighbourhood Locks

It seems like no time at all since the last entry was written. The snow is still here and making travelling very difficult, but thankfully, we have managed to get to all our emergency Call-outs, and also our pre-booked appointments.

Our on-site Key-cutting Service has proved to be a great success, with a number of Customers requesting additional sets of keys, with one even going so far as to tell us 'we prefer to get our keys from you, because the last lot worked!' That is a great compliment for us at Neighbourhood Locks in Ipswich, and just goes to show that cutting keys on-site, where the key can actually be tested in the intended lock, has some great advantages.

The last month has seen the usual type of calls, including changing Mortice Deadlocks, Yale style Nightlatches and Euro Cylinders after break-ins. We have carried out more of our Free Security Checks this last month, than any month previously, which is a good sign that Customers are aware of the importance of security upgrades before "the horse has bolted". Ipswich Locksmiths Neighbourhood Locks can carry out many Security upgrades quickly, and cost-effectively, and of course they can be a significant deterrent against crime.

We have also carried out a fair amount of door/lock adjusting, both on traditional wooden doors that have suffered under the cold weather, and also to Multipoint Locking Mechanism on UPVc doors. If the lock on your UPVc door becomes difficult to turn, then it is best to get it seen too, before it becomes worse, or even leaves you out in the cold! One that we recently attended to, was so bad, that the Customer had snapped the key off in the lock, which was frustrating for them, as they were unable to lock it.

We've also been called out to several of the smaller jobs, including padlocks with lost keys, broken window locks, desk locks with missing keys, and even to unlock an alloy wheel lock, where the key had been lost. It all makes for an interesting time!

If you have any security, or lock-related concerns, please call us on 01473 622461, and we will be pleased to help you.

Stay stafe!
Simon at Neighbourhood Locks – the Ipswich Locksmith

November 2009 @ Ipswich Locksmiths Neighbourhood Locks

November: The 'winter months' present some of the most challenging situations for the Locksmith. At this time of the year, there seems to be even more traffic about, than in the lighter months, and even the best torchlight available, is no substitute for daylight. But when the call comes in at Neighbourhood Locks in Ipswich, we are with you as quickly as possible, and always consider the safety aspect of someone locked-out, particularly the elderly. This time of the year, also sees more 'Lock-outs'. This last week alone, we've had a number of calls to OAPs who were locked out, all in very similar situations. But the good news, is that they each received 10% OAP Discount from Neighbourhood Locks, and of course our 'No Vat', and 'No Call-out Charge' policies, all helped keep the cost down, making Neighbourhood Locks, probably the most cost-effective full-time, Professional Locksmiths in Ipswich.

 There are also Discounts available for 'Neighbourhood Watch' Members. We have worked with members, promoting awareness of better security, in areas that have suffered break-ins. We are constantly surprised at the amount of locks we see on front doors, that really are only suitable for bedroom doors, and though these would have been acceptable years ago, what with the stricter Insurance Standards, and the greater determination of burglars, it makes very good sense to have a 'branded', British Standard Approved lock on your door. These do not have to be expensive, but they will offer a greater deterrent to those who wish to unlawfully gain access to your property. Even the addition of 'rack bolts', or 'sash jammers' to the back door, which are reasonably priced, or an 'anti-key-fishing cover' to the letterbox, can make all the difference. ('Key-fishing', is one of the more recent techniques employed by the Burglar). People will happily spend a small fortune on a new TV set, but skimp on their locks, only calling upon us to upgrade their security, after a break-in. If you are a 'Neighbourhood Watch' Coordinator, or Member, and would like to discuss any aspect of security, please feel free to contact us on the number below. 

When asked about 'Key cutting' here at Ipswich Locksmiths Neighbourhood Locks, we hear over and over that the Customer had had a key cut from a High-Street Shop, only to get home and try it, and find that it didn't work. While this can happen from time to time, we have minimised the chances of this, by offering our Key-cutting service while 'on-site'. This has several big advantages. Firstly it saves the Customer a trip, or in some cases 'trips', to town, and because we can try it out on the fitted lock, we can guarantee it will work. We carry a large number of blank keys, and are happy to take special orders, when needed, which can usually be with us quickly, and can be cut on-site to ensure they will work.

If you have any security concerns, please contact us on 01473622461, and we will be happy to advise you. We would also like to take this opportunity to wish all of our Customers throughout the year, a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Safe, New Year!

October 2009 @ Ipswich Locksmith Neighbourhood Locks

October has been a particularly busy month for me as an Ipswich Locksmith at Neighboughood Locks, with even more OAP Customers taking advantage of the 10% discount we offer to them, and to Neighbourhood Watch Members and Emergency Service workers. We do not charge Vat, or make a charge for a call-out either, which makes us possibly the most cost-effective full-time Professional Ipswich Locksmiths.
It cannot be emphasised enough, the importance of choosing a reputable Locksmith. Many out there that 'trade' as Locksmiths, are part-timers, seeing it as 'easy money' to suppliment their full-time day jobs, drilling locks that they cannot open without destroying, and charging an inflated price for the replacement lock. With the general public being unaware of what is a 'fair' price for Lock work (until it's too late), I hear accounts on a daily basis of people paying ridiculous amounts for what should be low-cost jobs. One Gentleman phoned me to ask how much I would have charged to get him back into his home, after a neighbour had phoned one of the large National Call-Centres in 'Yellow Pages' to 'help' him. When I told him my charges, he was astounded at how much he had been charged, - almost four times what I would have charged, - even then he would have received a further 10% OAP discount. At Neighbourhood Locks in Ipswich, there are no 'hidden costs' and the price quoted on-site, is the price you will pay. If additional work is required, costs will be given before work commences. A 'Lockout' is a frustrating situation for anyone, but most are happy to phone and trust anyone claiming to be a 'Locksmith', some giving them full access to their homes and Businesses. It is important to make sure that they are a member of the 'Institute of Certified Locksmiths' (who have rigourous guidelines), or the 'Master Locksmiths Association', and are fully insured, and can show you ID Card and a CRB Check to show they have been Police Checked. Always look for a 'genuine' Local phone number, not a 'Freephone' or just a 'Mobile' number. Many pretend to be Local (even fabricating a false address), but are actually based well outside the area they claim to be in, and don't care how long they take to get to you once they have been paid in advance by Card. Important questions to ask are: 'Is their work guaranteed?' and 'Will they use non-destructive opening techniques first?' If they have to resort to a drill without even attempting to use a non-destructive method, then they are either inexperienced, or working for a very large National Call-Centre who bump-up prices by drilling and replacing locks needlessly. I guarantee, that if I have to destroy a lock to gain entry, I will replace the lock free of charge*, and just charge my usual rate for labour. How many other Locksmiths offer this guarantee? (* excluding faulty, security-compromised locks, some safes, some commercial and some auto locks). 
October also saw an increase in Commercial call-outs for me at Neighbourhood Locks in Ipswich. Mainly jammed Multi-point Locking Mechanisms, lost key incidents, and lock changes after security breaches, with most opting to upgrade to the lastest 'Higher Security' 6-Lever Mortice Locks, and 'Anti-Bump, Anti-Snap' Euro Cylinders for UPVc and aluminium-type doors. For those who have not come across 'Lock Bumping', you are not alone. Some Police Forces are still unaware of the technique! See my Video section, for more details.  As 'Bumping' leaves little, or no sign of forced entry, it is difficult to prove to an Insurer that your property suffered a forced entry, making them unlikely to pay-out. As 'Approved Installers of Pickbuster Anti-bump Solution', Ipswich Locksmith Neighbourhood Locks, can for a comparatively small cost, treat your existing locks swiftly, with 'Pickbuster' to guard against 'Lock-bumping'. 
If you are a member of Neighbourhood Watch, Neighbourhood Locks in Ipswich offer a discount for all Lock-work. Please call me on 01473 622461 if you have any concerns about your propertys security. I offer a free Security Check, and no job is too small.Stay safe! Simon, at

September 2009 @ Ipswich Locksmith Neighbourhood Locks

September proved to be quite a mixed bag for me here at Neighbourhood Locks. The life of a Mobile Locksmith is usually one of great variety, never knowing what the next phone-call will lead to, but the last month has seemed to be exceptional, with calls taking me all over Suffolk, and considerably outside of Ipswich, which makes for a nice change. (Maybe this is down to not charging VAT! )

Along with the usual emergency calls from Customers being locked out (all of which I dealt with, without the need to destroy their locks), lost-key incidents, lock-replacements for new-home owners, and a few stuck Multipoint Locking Mechanisms, I seem to have had to deal with a larger quantity of what I term 'generally worn out' locks. One of these was next to a busy main road, and the Customer had informed me that the lock (an old 5 Lever Mortice) had been progressively becoming harder to open, until the day she phoned Neighbourhood Locks, when it failed to unlock at all, breaking the key off in the lock. Once I'd removed it, and replaced it with one of the latest British-Standard Mortice Locks, I dismantled the original lock, only to discover that it had a considerable amount of mud and general debris inside, no doubt the result of the nearby traffic sending it into the lock, via the keyhole. The extra resistance had caused wear on the bolt-thrower over time, and this led to the locks failure. The Customer was extremely pleased with the very smooth operation of the new lock, which complies to Insurance Requirements, and to the latest upgraded British Standards of course, that require a 20mm-throw bolt, and a fully-boxed in 'bolt-keep'. Previously, the bolt was only required to be 14mm, so the new ones are considerably more secure.

Where at all possible, we try to repair, or service the Customer's lock in order to keep costs to a minimum for them, however, we need to consider both the safety, and security aspects that a lock has to provide, so naturally this is our top priority. Neighbourhood Locks would always recommend checking your Insurance Policy and locks (or ask me to do it for you, - I make no charge for a 'Security Check' in the area), in order to make sure they comply to your Insurer's requirements. If they do not, your Insurer may not pay out in the event of a break-in. The latest locks have come a long way from their predecessors of a few years back, both in security value (among which  6-lever locks are becoming more popular), and generally in the build-quality too, and may not cost as much as you think to upgrade.

In addition to the usual call-outs for fitting additional 'secondary security' items such as 'door chains', 'door viewers', 'patio door locks', 'sash jammers'  and ‘anti-letterbox-fishing covers’ etc. I've also had more than the usual amount of calls to attend to jammed Multipoint Mechanisms in and around Ipswich. These are the ones commonly found on UPVc doors, and occasionally wooden doors, and can be identified by the array of 'hooks' and/or 'bolts' etc. running down the edge of the door, that move into place once the door handle is moved. These work fine, but can be prone to wear. Just imagine how many times those hooks and bolts have engaged over the years that the mechanism has been installed! Once they become stiff, or fail to engage without knocking the handle up hard, then it would be as well to have it checked out. It's much easier and more cost effective to do this, while the door will still open, rather than to wait until it jams completely.

Neighbourood Locks is also proud to announce that we are now an Authorised Installer of 'Pickbuster'. I bet you're asking yourself 'What IS 'Pickbuster?'' There are a few security threats out there, - some enable a burglar to gain entry to a large number of homes easily, and often without leaving any obvious signs of forced entry. That means that the victim will have a hard job proving that there was ever a break-in, and that they hadn't simply forgotten to close the door on the way out. One such threat, is 'Lock-bumping'. 'Pickbuster' is the solution, and can be applied to existing locks, quickly and cost-effectively. It's shocking to see a video for the first time of  'Lock-bumping' being carried out on a lock, but I was even more shocked to learn recently, that a Police Force in another County were completely unaware of 'Lock-bumping'! These last few weeks, I have been asked to treat a increasing number of locks with ‘Pickbuster’. The Company that produce 'Pickbuster' are so confident of the product, that they will pay the first £ 2,500 of an insurance claim, in the event that your 'Pickbuster protected' property was entered by 'Lock-bumping'. While Insurance Companies tend to play-down ‘lock-bumping’, there are ways for Locksmiths to determine if a lock has been compromised by this method.

Remember too, if you are a member of Neighbourhood Watch, an OAP, Emergency Service etc. there are discounts available to you from 'Neighbourhood Locks'. We cover most of the 'IP' Postcodes and surrounding area.

Give me a call, for friendly advice, from a genuine Local Locksmith, on any security concerns you may have.  01473 622461