One area of home security that is often overlooked, and one of the most visible, is the common key. Even if you are the owner of a new house, or the first tenant of your apartment, you cannot be sure that no one else has a key to your door.
Many times new locks are supplied to a building site that are keyed with special construction keys and pins. The theory is that when the builder turns the property over to the owner of the property, inserting and turning the owner key will trap the construction pins, rendering the construction keys useless. The reality is that not all projects receive locks that are construction keyed, some manufacturers do not offer the option, some builders may buy their hardware from a regular hardware store, etc.
Others who could have a key to your home include, the builder or a construction worker, real estate agent, ex owner or tenant, friend or relative of last owner or tenant, any of a dozen or so service people, or a neighbor who still lives next door.
The first thing you should do when moving into a new home, is have the locks recombinated by a professional locksmith. If you are renting or leasing, and the building owner or manager, cannot or will not assure you that the locks have been changed, do not move in.
Another area of concern is how you handle your keys. You should not have anything on your key ring that identifies you or has your address on it. If you feel this is necessary, see your professional locksmith, they can decode and record your keys, some will keep a record for you. If leaving your car at a parking or service facility, don’t leave any keys on the key ring, other than keys to the car, and don’t leave the trunk key, if you have any valuables in it.
If your keys are marked “Do Not Duplicate” or “Unlawful to Copy” are they safe and secure? People have been known to cover those markings with tape, liquid plastic, rubber key boots, etc. Not all persons who duplicate keys will look under these covers. The minimum wage clerk at the local variety store or hardware store cannot be faulted for not heeding those warnings. Some may even look at them as a challenge.
A good option to explore with your professional locksmith is the use of controlled distribution keys, or high security cylinders, along with controlled distribution keys. These systems feature keys that are not obtainable to key duplicators who are not contracted to purchase them. In some systems the actual keys are patented. One popular High Security, key control manufacturer asks the following questions in their advertising. “Do you give your keys to anyone?”, “Do you mind if they have copies made without your permission?” Unlike standard keys, high security keys are protected by patents and are only provided to authorized, contracted distributors or dealer locksmiths. The duplication of these keys cannot be done without your express permission. Some are so closely controlled that they are only duplicated by the manufacturer, and then sent to the authorized owner. Using this type of security for your keys, gives you the control over who has the keys to your castle.