Beesafelocksmith’s Blog

Thoughts and other things from a locksmith


© 1999 The National Locksmith

No matter how many employees your business has, there always seems to be a time when no one is minding the store, so to speak. You know the times when everyone is preoccupied with some aspect of their job and no one seems to be keeping an eye on the front door, the sales counter or, especially, the back door.

The thugs are just looking for opportunities where everyone’s attention is somewhere else rather than on the thief skulking through the back door and into the stockroom. Opportunities abound for a thug that is more alert than your employees. You know. An unattended cash register. The receptionist on break and no one covering for her. The “crew” out back unloading a truck. And in less time then it takes to think about, the thief has emptied the register, snatched a purse or two from the break room or walked out with an arm load of cigarettes!

One way to immediately direct your employees attention to the high risk, vulnerable areas of your establishment, and at the same time, let the would-be rip-off artist know that your business is not the pushover they think it is, is to install door annunciators.

Even though it is nearly impossible to have everyone exactly where they need to be at all times annunciators are a viable, effective security solution that will draw attention to the door no one is watching.

December 30, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

You Get What You Pay For

Whether you are considering lock hardware for your home or commercial establishment. it pays to know there are different grades of hardware and costs.   For residential, most homes have the bare minimum Grade 3 locks.  They do their job, but usually lack the strength to defeat a criminal breaking in.  Their cost is mimimal from five to twenty dollars for the keyed entry knob.

The Grade 2 hardware is a heavier and more costly, but can hold its own to damage from a burglar..Grade 2 entry knobs range from approximately twenty-five dollars and up.  The style and finish can also increase the price such as lifetime finish, oli rubbed bronze, etc.  Grade 2 can be a heavy duty residential or a lighter duty commercial.

Grade 3 is mostly commercial type lock hardware.  It is much heavier and more complicated and has various functions as storage, classroom, etc.  Hardware of this type would probably look very institutional in a residence application.

I don’t recommend Grade 2 to my customers just to make more money.  Rather, it’s intended to provide better security for the homeowner.  I also suggest sticking with quality products that can be serviced if necessary and are U.S. manufacturers.  My favorites are Schlage, Kwikset, Corbin, Emtek, and Medeco.  You can go to my company website and go to the Manufacturers links and view their products.   I also invite you to contact me if you have questions and will be glad to answer them.

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December 15, 2008 Posted by | Home Security | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Off-Topic – I’m talking Motorcycles this time.

I have never ridden my motorcycles on long road trips.  I started out in 1974 with a new Honda Trail 90 and only rode it 25 miles round trip to work for about a year and a half.  Never really did the off-road thing with it,


After that, I bought a 73 Honda CB175 that was hardly driven and kept it for about 2 years. Again, riding back and forth to work.  I did take it on the highway from the S.F. Bay Area to Fairfield and back.   It was highway legal but not a very good bike for that purpose.  It was too light and scared the crap out of me because it was too underpowered.  I gave up riding except for the occasional use of a buddy’s Honda 750 Super Sport.


At the time, it was GREAT to have real power and ride a REAL bike.  In that time, Honda started selling the CB900 Custom.   I had the hots for it but never seemed to get serious and be able to afford it since we had young daughters in the house and various expenses,  I did finally get over it and moved on.

Enter 1998.  I was commuting 130 miles round trip and putting way too much mileage on my 1992 pickup.  My son in law, Dan, had a Honda Nighthawk and I got the itch again for a bike.  I placed an ad on our internal bulletin board and a fellow employee just happened to have a 1980 Honda GL1100 Goldwing.  Next thing you know, I handed him $500 and it became mine.  Dan and I both rode it off and on and then all to myself.  Since I was prior military and wanting to ride it on base, the Air Force required me to complete their Experienced Rider Course at a cost of $0 and a weekend in class.  I highly recommend anyone who rides to take the beginning and experienced classes.  It will give you that edge in dealing with traffic and the other drivers out there. This is a photo of my 1980 GL1100 and Golden Retriever, Maggie.


In 1999, I stopped by a Honda dealer to ride a used GL1500 Goldwing.  Need I say more, it was MORE powerful, better balanced, and COMFORTABLE!  Then I left still riding the GL1100 that felt so inadequate.  Later on in the start of 2000, I found a 1998 GL1500 for sale for what I could afford.  The guy who owned it for a short while was oriental, 140 pounds if he was lucky, and could barely reach the ground while sitting on the bike.  No offense here, but what was he thinking let alone doing with an 825 pound touring bike?  He really couldn’t handle that much bike.  In short order, it was mine.  Sold the GL1100 to my son in law Dan.  At that time I was only commuting 60 miles round trip to work. Occasionally, my wife and I rode together but usually short trips.  One morning we decided to go to another town 30 miles away for breakfast.  It was crisp and sunny so we left.  Half way there if turned colder and overcast.  We really froze our asses off the rest of the trip besides spending at least an hour in the restaurant eating and downing lots of hot coffee.

In 2003, I decided that I could do without a bike again.  Sold it to an older gentleman and then headed to the local Chevy delaer and bought a new 4WD pickup.

I retired from my job in CA and moved here to WA.  I worked a few part time jobs and was sent to the Seattle area for training.  I was talking about bikes with another student from Aberdeen and the “itch” started all over again.  He told me about his BMW R1200LT and how great of a touring bike it was.  Well, a few days later and I’m talking to a BMW salesman just foaming at the mouth to sell me a new or consignment 1200LT.  It just didn’t feel right to me and the feature I really loved was the power centerstand.  I even considered a Harley Ultra Classic, but was still not convinced.  While in Lynnwood,  I found a new ’08 GL1800 at a dealer and started to make a deal on it.  The salesman wanted me to meet the parts manager, the service manager, etc.  ad nauseum.  It reminded me of the old used car salesman stories.  I walked out and let them know of my dissatisfaction and their greed for too much money.

Gl1800 Goldwing

I considerd doing business with dealers in Tennessee, New York, and So. California.  All of them reputable and offering deep discounted prices.  I did find one near Portland, Oregon and they gave me a deal I couldn’t refuse.  We did everything by phone and fax, my credit union financed it, and it was a done deal.  My daughter drove with me in her car to pick up the new bike a few days later.  I probably spent a half hour with the salesman and completed the paperwork.  At 2pm. I was on the road and heading north to home.  A rare day in October with sun and a little warmth.  By the time I was about 40 miles from home, cold set in for the rest of the ride.  I also had to learn the procedure for paying and taking the ferry from Mukilteo to Whidbey Island.

Winter is such a DUMB time to buy a motorcycle.  From October until the end of May, I only put about 750 miles on the Goldwing which is a weekend ride for others (those who ride regardless of the weather).  I am a fair weather rider, rain doesn’t get it for me a all.  However, if I get caught in it, it’s OK!

I wanted to attend a retiree BBQ near Sacramento the first week of June.  If we drove or flew down, it was going to co$t plenty.  So, I decided to take the Goldwing on my first real trip ever.  Saturday May 31st, I left at 7am and headed for Clinton.  Before I left, our daughter was to bring me an item I needed before she went to work.  She was running a bit late so when I finally got to Clinton, the ferry was already underway to the mainland.  Well, after waiting another half hour, I got down to business and started heading south.  I tried to keep with speed limit sort of, but found that I was going to get my behind run over unless I stayed with the flow. There was a few sprinkles between Seattle and Tacoma, figured       I’m in it, I’m not giving up this soon, let’s go.  The rain lasted only a few minutes and then all was better, leaned back against the sleeping bag I had for back support, set the cruise, and roll with the flow.  Getting into Portland, I was watching traffic so much that I almost missed the right two lanes to head south on I-5. Goosed it and got in before the gore point.

I have an 80 year old uncle who lives in Eugene, Oregon and I spent the night there.  We had  some great conversation about the family research I was doing and he filled me in on some tidbits.  I was well worth it as he had a picture of my great-grandfather that I had ner seen before.  My first impression was that he looked somewhat like the late Jim Croce with mustache and goatee.

The next morning at 7am, opened the garage door and was greeted by rain.  I hesitated for about fifteen minutes and then decided that I must continue.  I said goodbye to my uncle Bob and rode off in search of gasoline in town.  The drizzle made a mess of the windshield but still managed OK. I gassed up at a nearby convenience store and was reminded that it’s full serve only.  I found out later that it’s not a requirement for fueling motorcycles since so many owners hate the idea of feul spills or other damage.  When I got gas later in Medford, I was allowed to do it myself.  I headed down the Delta Rd. and got on to I-5. I went slowly trying to get on the ramp but had a cage that was enamoured with the rear of the wing. I didn’t want to encounter a slick, oily area in the road.  Unfortunatley, I was not real familiar with the on ramp and a few cars were tailgating and not being patient with me.  By the time I got to Creswell, the rain/drizzle was gone and the highway was starting to dry out.  SIt back, set the cruise control, and head south.

Later on it was time to stop and stretch at one of the road side rest stops.  A free cup of coffee was welcome to me since it was still fairly cold.  Had a brief conversation with a guy reading at a table.  He was sure wanting to hit the highways on a motorcycle.  Rest over, time to hit the road.  With the rise in fuel prices, there didn’t seem to be a lot of traffic which made it a bit nicer.   I had spied some motorcycles coming up fast in the rear view mirror and moved to the right lane.  There were about 5 Honda’s just like mine whizzing by at 80+ mph.  I joined in for a few minutes and decided it wasn’t my thing.  I wasn’t in THAT big of a hurry.  Continued with the cruise at 70 which was plenty to catch the eye of the OSP troopers.   After lunch, I headed out of Medford and found the Siskyou’s to be 42 degrees and foggy. Heading down towards Shasta, I was flying down the grade at 80+ and at the bottom there was a CHP with radar. I felt I was cooked then but he never came after me and was relieved. I was also happier to be in CA at that moment because I was in REAL sunshine and warmth. Going through Red Bluff commanded some attention. I was in the left lane approaching a big rig that was in the right lane. At a cloverleaf, someone had left their attention somewhere and the big rig was moving over into my lane. I hit the horn, braked and glad no one was following close to cause an incident. Even with a big bike, you have to assume you’re invisible to other traffic. After 400 miles, I wound up at my cousin’s home near Willows.   She and her husband, Tom, live out in the country where they farm in the area of Ord Bend.   They grow rice, wheat, almonds, and even raise some award winning pigs of the Duroc and Hampshire variety.     We went over to Orland and had dinner at one of the best places there.  I was great to enjoy the best prime rib that I had ever had in the last 2 or three years.    We returned back to their house after dinner and discovered that the sprinkler system had come on and completely drenched the Goldwing.  The only thing harmed was the sleeping bag on the rear seat and hung it out to dry on the fence.

The following morning I set out for Sacramento about 10am.  I was going to ride over to Willows and take I-5 but I got distracted with the scenery and other things and missed the turn off.  So, I just continued down that little two-lane down to Colusa.   The biggest thing that happens there is the Indian casino but nothing close to the Cache Creek Casino over in Capay Valley.

While there in the Sacramento area, I visited with my daughter’s family, attended a retiree BBQ in Lodi, and many other things. Tuesday, I met some former co-workers for lunch at a local pizza restaurant. I had not seen any of them for at least a year. We had a rather long lunch and caught up on everything. I mentioned to Chuck that I wanted to do a circle route of California next Spring. There may be 2 to 4 of us doing the trip I hope. Wednesday was the Retiree BBQ in Lodi. Lots of familiar faces that I knew in the Bay Area and had not seen for 20 years. One such character was Mike S. He commented on remembering me the day I started working in 1966 and how it made him feel older seeing me finally retired. Five hours didn’t seem enough time to visit but will definitely go again next year. Hopefully some familiar faces that didn’t show this year. On Sat 6-7, left Sacto just before 7am and fought the north wind all the way up into Oregon. That’s when the gas mileage really dropped to about 30 mpg. Hotel’d it in Springfield (480 miles). The hotel clerk was so accomodating and let me park the goldwing next the entry doors.  After a long ride, crashed into be for much needed sleep.  Sunday morning, it was cold and foggy until getting to Salem where the sun finally appeared. Crossing from OR to WA was like passing through a curtain. OR was sunny and crossing over the river into WA was ugly dreary skies. I stopped in Tumwater at the Masonic Cemetery to find graves of my family. Found all but two as the signage was not friendly enough to me. I was so cold I could barely hold the camera to take some pictures there. The only other event was going through Seattle and having a Lexus try to move over on me. I think the horn probably encouraged the driver to change his or her underwear at the earliest convenience. I finally go home around 2pm with wife and Golden Retriever both happy to see me back in one piece.

My mileage varied from 30 to 40 mpg. Definitely considering a Tulsa windshield to help with all the wind and buffeting. I would never ride as far as I did in one day, but would limit to about 300 miles a day next time.

December 12, 2008 Posted by | Motorcycle | | 3 Comments


There’s been a lot of publicity about thieves breaking in using the “Bump” method.  Bumping can be very effective and fast.  All it takes is a key cut in a certain fashion, inserted in the keyway and bumped with a wooden block or hammer.  When you insert your key, the bottom pins all form a “shear line” so the cylinder will turn, unlocking the lock.  The top pins have tension with small springs and are all contined in the upper portion of the lock called the “bible”  Don’t ask me why, I never got the answer to that either.   What happens inside the lock is rattling the bottom pins and tops pins so they align with the shear line.  And, VOILA!  the lock is opened!

There are several locksets on the market that are manufactured to defeat picking and bumping.  Most common is the top pins called mushroom or spool pins.  Inside, they will wobble when the lock is being picked and will not allow perfect alignment for the pins to align with the shear line.

You really don’t have to go buy more locksets as mentioned, unless your locks are underachievers and need to be replaced with something stronger. (see previous blog entry)  You can call a locksmith and have the top pins replaced with the spool or mushroom type.  At the same time,  have them rekeyed since they are getting worked on anyway.  If you’re willing to put out some cash on your security, look into hardware made by Medeco for residential. If you like your hardware and can replace the lock cylinders, have your local locksmith replace the cylinders with the Primus brand that is high security and will not be bumped or picked.  The key blanks can only be supplied by the installing locksmith.  Food for thought.  Dish some back to me if you care too.

December 11, 2008 Posted by | Home Security | | Leave a comment


Countless people call a locksmith in an emergency for the first time.  You gaze at the listings and pick one to call.   Most locksmith businesses are locally run and are bonded, insured, and so forth.  There are unscrupulous businesses that are affiliated with a national chain.  When you call them, the call goes somewhere across the country, the dispatcher will notify the one local to you to proceed.  The dispatcher tells you for instance the work will be seventy-five dollars.  When the “locksmith” arrives, the price goes higher to one hundred or more dollars.  The price usually changes after the work is done and then the fun begins.  Know what services you are getting and have a written estimate in your hand prior to the work.

A reputable locksmith company should have a professional looking vehicle with signage, Watch out for the ones who have the magnetics.  They should also have some type of uniform with company name/logo to match.   Some states require a license number on any advertisement, vehicle, business card, etc.  If you have doubts, ask for an I.D. or call the local police,  Know who is working on your car or buidling.

I just uploaded photos of my vehicle and you can see that it looks professional.  When I greet a customer, I tell them my name and hand them a business card.   I am not a member of ALOA but find their sources very usefull.

The Associated Locksmiths Of America has created a 10-point checklist for detecting a locksmith company that may be engaging in this scheme. Many of the items in this checklist are legal by themselves. However, if several are used together, you may be dealing with a con-artist.

1. Not Familiar with Your Area. To ensure that the company is local, make sure that they are familiar with your area of town.
2. Locksmith Service. Unscrupulous individuals often operate under many business names/aliases. Thus, they must answer the phone with a generic phrase like, locksmith service. If the call is answered this way, ask, What is the legal name of your business.
3. ALOA Logo. Does the Yellow Pages ad contain a logo that makes them appear to belong to ALOA? While many locksmiths do belong to the Association, some unscrupulous individuals trick the consumer by falsely using the ALOA logo. You can always check to see if in fact these businesses are members by calling ALOA, (800) 532-2562 or
4. Unclear Business Name. Look closely at the ad(s). Is the specific name of the business clearly identified? Does it appear that the dealer actually operates under several names? If a Web address is listed, does the name on the Web site match the name on the ad?
5. Under Same Ownership. This confusing statement, often found in small print at the bottom of a full-page ad in the Yellow Pages, is often legally required to prevent a business from deceiving the public. The statement itself may be a warning sign that the company operates under several aliases.
6. Service Vehicle. Some legitimate locksmiths will work out of a car or unmarked van for quick jobs, but most will arrive in a service vehicle – a van or truck that is clearly marked.
7. Identity. A legitimate locksmith should ask for identity and some form of proof that you have the authority to allow the unlocking to be done. You have the right to ask for the locksmith’ss identification as well. Does he have a business card? Does he have an invoice or bill with the company name printed on it? Does it match the name on the service vehicle?
8. Estimate. Find out what the work will cost before you authorize it. Never sign a blank form authorizing work.
9. Invoice. Insist on an itemized invoice. You can’st dispute a charge without proof of how much you paid and what the payment was for.
10. Refuse. If you are not comfortable with the service provider, you can, and should, refuse to work with the locksmith.

December 9, 2008 Posted by | Home Security | , , , | 2 Comments


Many people use the various “hide-a-key” products to store a spare key to their house or vehicle. An example of the low cost magnetic type is pictured here. They are very convenient and will secure a key under a fender, backside of a bumper or license plate. The trouble is………… the crooks also know where to look for them. All it takes is a quick sweep in these places for instant access and drive away with the vehicle.

There is a better, although more expensive way to store a spare key. One that stands out is the Supra
brand key safes. Most come with pushbuttons that can be programed by the user to any combination and changed as often as desired. If someone hits the wrong numbers, it will reset itself. For the average key safe, the cost is about $28.00. For the automotive style,about $45-$50 and comes with a rubber cover that protects it from the elements. It can also be mounted on the receiver hitch or other accessible location where it won’t interfere with the operation on the vehicle (i.e. tire clearance, etc.) This same style with or without the protective cover can be mounted on a wall or fence and store a key for entry into a building. Most of these will hold two or three keys depending on how bulky they are. It helps to have a standard key without the plastic or rubber heads (“bows”, in locksmith speak).

Another type of key holder is the statuary or “fake rock” that you can placed near the front door or in a planter. The trouble with most of these, they are obvious to the criminal of their purpose. If you really want one of these, try to get one that blends in and doesn’t say “I’ve got the key you’re looking for!” One of the best sayiings is “you get what you pay for”. Get something of quality to do the job. Cheap, is just asking for “just walk right in”.

December 5, 2008 Posted by | Auto Security, Home Security | , , , | 3 Comments