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How to Pick a Lock

Category : Locks

We see it in spy movies, heists and other sensationalized settings: lock-picking is a skill that we associate with criminality and craftiness — but it’s a real skill that can come in handy in situations other than sleuthing and stealing. You can learn how to pick a door lock yourself and utilize the knowledge on multiple occasions to help you gain access to accidentally locked houses or cars in a non-destructive way.

Here’s what you need to know about picking locks:

  • Why You Should Know How to Pick a Lock:

    Learning to pick locks gives you insight into the nature of locks, how they work and the degree of security they provide. It can also open your eyes to the need to enhance your own security. It can also save you time and money in sticky situations, such as when you’ve misplaced your house key, locked your keys in your car or even to help someone in need.

  • Legality of Picking a Lock:

    You might be worried about whether carrying lock picking tools makes you look suspicious or could be against the law. But don’t fret — as long as you don’t intend to use them to break into another home or commit a crime, possessing tools for picking locks is legal and ethical. There’s nothing criminal about finding another way through your front door when you’ve forgotten your key!

  • How Lock-Picking Works:

    The most common type of lock is a pin tumbler lock, which is made up of a cylinder casing with a plug hole for the key and several key pins that, when lifted to the correct height, allow the plug to rotate and the lock to turn. Picking a lock means using tools other than the correct key to move the key pins into the right position to unlock the door.

  • Tools and Steps to Pick a Lock:

    For basic lock-picking purposes, you’ll need a tension wrench and pick rakes. You can find your own set online.

First, put the tension wrench into the plug and apply light pressure so you can feel plug rotate slightly as the key pins rise and drop and the driver pin catches. The wrench should barely bend.

Next, insert your pick at the top of the lock and slide it all the way in. Still putting pressure on the wrench, make a raking motion with your pick as you lift it slightly up and pull it back.

Repeat until all the pins click into place.

Turn to a Professional for Tricky Locks

If you find yourself up against an especially testy lock you can’t pick despite your best efforts, reach out to your local locksmith. With more than 50 years of experience servicing the personal and commercial lock and key needs in the Maryland and Metro D.C. areas, Ernie’s Lock and Key can help you out of any sticky lock situation. Contact us today for more information.

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How to Improve Your Front Door Security

Category : Uncategorized

Your home is your stronghold, so there’s nothing more important than keeping your home security strong. When it comes to burglary threats and protection against break-ins, your front door can be your greatest weakness or your greatest strength. To make sure your home is safe and your door strands immobile against attacks, try these tips.

How To Increase Front Door Security

  • Have solid-core, strong doors.
    Doors with hollow cores are fine for the interior of your house, but they can be dangerous if they’re the only barrier between you and the outside. For better security in your front door, make sure you choose one made of solid wood or to replace your empty core with metal, wood or fiberglass.
  • Install a deadbolt and front-door security lock.
    If your entry door only features a standard handle lock, reinforce it with a sturdy deadbolt and hardware cover for an added layer of protection. If you already have a deadbolt, think about upgrading your locks periodically to make sure you’re up-to-date with the best types of protection and reinforce your locks with cylinder guards or strike plates.
  • Monitor your door.
    Part of preventing break-ins is taking deterrent measures to ensure not only that burglars are aware you’re watching them but also that you can identify anyone who attempts to gain entry. Try installing a wide-angle peephole or security camera in or around your door so you can always see who’s knocking and so potential criminals feel more exposed.
  • Keep your lights on.
    Installing outdoor lights around your front door and keeping your entryway bright, visible and friendly is a fantastic way to ward off intruders. After all, neighbors and community members are much more likely to notice someone trying to pick a lock or break down a door in plain sight with the extra attention of light at night. You should also try to minimize any objects that could provide hiding places around your door.

Contact a Locksmith for Advice

If you need more information on security for home doors, your local locksmiths are here to help. Servicing commercial, residential and emergency lock needs since 1960, Ernie’s Lock and Key is a name you can trust in the Maryland and Metro D.C. areas. Contact us today!

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What to Do When You’re Locked Out of Your Safe

Category : Access , Locks

You keep a safe to secure your most valuable items: your jewelry, your documents and your secret stash of cash. You don’t want anyone to get their hands on your prized possessions. Unfortunately, sometimes, that means you can’t, either. A secure safe you have access to can provide you with peace of mind, but a locked safe you can’t open can quickly cause a panic.

If you’re locked out of your safe, stay calm. Don’t try to break in with force. Instead, assess the situation and contact your local locksmith. Here are the steps to take when you can’t get into your safe:

  1. Determine the type of safe you have. The type of security, lock and operating system of your safe depends on the type you purchased. Look for a brand or manufacturer name on the safe, look up your purchasing information and take note of the size and construction of the device to determine whether it’s a safe or a lockbox.
  2. Determine why you’re locked out. You can always troubleshoot the lock issue before a professional arrives and try to open the safe yourself. You might have lost or broken your key or forgotten your combination, or it’s possible your bolts are jammed or detached. For cheap safes, safe bouncing — or hitting the top of the safe while turning the handle — can solve your problem. Other safes may have a safe override option, in which case you can flip a switch or enter a combination to reset your entry code.
  3. Reach out to a locksmith. If you can’t figure out why your safe won’t open or simply can’t solve the problem yourself, your best option is to contact a lock professional.

If you’re looking for safe unlocking services or safe repair in Maryland, trust Ernie’s Lock and Key. Servicing the Maryland and Metro D.C. areas since 1960, we’ll make sure you have easy access to your safe again. Contact us today.

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Top Ways to Secure a Door

Category : Locks

 door locks in md

Your home is your haven. It’s where you relax after a long day, where you cook your meals, keep your pets and settle into sleep. In a personal place, you want to feel as safe as possible — especially if you live alone or have little ones you want to protect. Whether you live in the city or the suburbs, a house or an apartment, with a big group of people or on your own, securing your space against burglary threats increases your peace of mind and the safety of your environment.

How to Security Your Door and Keep Your Home Safe

  • Install High-Security Locks: To protect against covert break-in methods such as lock-picking, high-security home lock installation can be the best route to making sure your front door is secure. Deadbolt strength and material are key, so make sure you choose a lock with strong metal and resistance to picking. Whether you choose a traditional lock or an electronic smart lock, the right high-security deadbolt will guard against outside threats.


  • Invest in Security Cameras: If you’re concerned about burglaries or break-ins and want to keep an eye on your residence at all times, consider installing a security camera in your entryway. There are many options for video surveillance and security, including setups like smart doorbells with cameras or security cameras with alert systems. Video security can help you deter and prevent threats before they occur or identify burglars in your neighborhood.


  • Increase Door Visibility: It may seem irrelevant, but paying attention to the appearance of your door can increase security on its own. A door that is exposed, well-lit or in plain sight of the community is much less likely to be a burglary target because it makes it more likely that someone would notice a break-in attempt. Make sure not to conceal your door with close obstacles or shady areas that might make good hiding places.


  • Think About Door Construction: The best home security is door security. The material of your door has a lot to do with how secure it is. To prevent entry by jamming or breaking down the door, make sure your door is made of strong, solid wood or steel. Hollow core doors are never safe for exterior use. You should also think about a hardware cover to protect your lock and the weaknesses around it.

High-Security Door Locks and Services in Maryland

If you need assistance and assurance in door lock installation, security or residential lock repair, let Ernie’s Lock and Key lend you our expertise. Serving the Maryland and Metro D.C. areas since 1960, we’ve got you covered with the best products and services to protect your home. Contact us today!

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keyless entry system md

How Keyless Entry Systems Will Help Your Business

Category : Keys

How Keyless Entry Systems Will Help Your Business

 Building a business requires extensive amounts of dedication, time, resources, money — and the list goes on. So naturally, one of your most significant investments should be in the security system of protecting your business, assets and employees.

Keyless entry installation in Maryland is a modern and efficient technology that puts you in control. The system uses either keycards or personal identification numbers, which prove to be more convenient than fondling with a physical key. A simple swipe motion of a keyless system is beneficial to companies that have high employee turnovers.

With a commercial keyless entry method for your business in Maryland, you’ll have complete access to all the control systems. Here are four main benefits of keyless security:


  1. Increased Efficiency

 A keyless entry system installed at your Maryland business allows you to keep track of employee entry and exit times, along with which entry and exit points they use. The efficiency of your company can increase by allowing you to track employee work hours accurately. Because you’re in control of the system, you can issue temporary keycards, or change or delete permission as deemed necessary. Essentially, you can completely regulate who enters the building during specific times and days of the week.


  1. Employee Safety

 As a business owner, you aren’t only responsible for the safety of your physical assets, but for your employees, as well. Keyless entry installation minimizes risks in the workplace and prevents security issues from occurring. Safety in all buildings helps reduce internal theft and violence, while also keeping your employees out of danger. With a keyless system, unauthorized personnel are unable to enter, which produces a secure workplace environment.


  1. Secure Solutions

Having a keyless entry locksmith in Maryland ensures secure solutions for your business’ important technologies and documents. Because people can “pick” traditional locks, the security of a building is greatly reduced. However, keyless systems are more complex, which lessens the risk of theft and creates a secure solution to protecting your tech, documents and other essential items. Keys can fall into the wrong hands — but not with a keyless system.


  1. Reduced Costs

 With a keyless system, you’ll no longer need to pay for lost or misplaced keys, or make copy keys for new employees. Although the initial cost of a keyless installation is heavy, the investment pays off while producing a more secure workspace. A downfall of having a key system is the cost of replacing spare keys and hiring a locksmith to replace outdated locks. Compared to keyless security, physical keys can get lost or stolen and can’t be revoked unless physically gathered.


How Ernie’s Can Help You Install a Keyless System

As Maryland’s leading commercial locksmith and a high-quality keyless entry installer, Ernie’s can help protect your business and employees. Contact us today.

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halloween-proof your house

How to Keep Your Home Safe During Halloween

Category : Keys , Locks

Tips to Keep Your Home Safe During Halloween

During all the Halloween festivities and fun of dressing up and eating candy, you may forget about the security of your home. Locking your doors may seem like a no-brainer from some — but Halloween is a popular holiday for mischievous hooligans and quite possibly, more serious criminal acts.

While people in costumes may be difficult to identify and pranks may begin to scour your neighborhood as the clock nears midnight, Ernie’s Locksmith in Maryland devised a few tips to keep your home safe during Halloween


  1. Locks

There are two types of people in this world — those who lock their doors each time they leave their home and those who never give it a second thought. If you’re the latter of the two, a home automation system allows you to lock and unlock your doors remotely with an electronic door lock. With smart lock security technology, you can make sure your home is secure by viewing an app.


  1. Alarm System

Setting up an alarm system enhances the security of your home compared to only locking your doors. It’s a good idea to make sure your system is working correctly and that your doors, handles and locks are not loose or broken.


  1. Lights

Although it’s customary to leave your porch lights on to indicate your participation in trick-or-treating, leaving your interior lights on is a safe way to indicate people are home — even if they aren’t. Using a smart lock security system in Maryland allows you to turn your lights on and off from anywhere.


  1. Peephole

Peepholes serve a purpose, and you shouldn’t be afraid to keep your door shut if you’re unsure of who is on the other side. Instead of leaving your door unlocked during trick-or-treating or a party, use the peephole. Burglars have a better chance of entering your home if you’re constantly opening it without caution.


  1. Social Media

It’s a smart idea to keep your plans off social media because it leaves your house vulnerable and open to crimes. Don’t share the location of your haunted party, as it could encourage unfortunate or dangerous events to occur at your home without your permission.


Make Your Home Halloween-Proof

To keep your home or business safe during Halloween, contact Ernie’s Lock Company.

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Why a Local Locksmith Is the Best Choice

Category : Keys , Locks


Choose A Local Locksmith In Maryland

local locksmith in maryland

Although it might not happen frequently, there will be times when you need the services of a capable locksmith. The first question that pops into your head will probably be, “Where can I find a locksmith near me?”

While a quick Internet search will likely yield a host of results, some of them will be mobile locksmiths who may not have a strong presence in your area. A better option is to contact a local locksmith who has a solid reputation within your community.


Reasons to contact a local locksmith:

  • They know your area and its unique security needs. A local locksmith with roots in the area has unique insight into your security issue and can recommend the most reliable, affordable solution. You’ll also know who to call if you need follow-up service.


  • They have all the necessary tools and equipment to do the job. Local locksmiths are brick-and-mortar business establishments and have all the requisite resources and technology on-site. In contrast, a mobile locksmith you find online usually has a limited number of tools and equipment.


  • You’ll avoid scams. Mobile locksmith scams are all too common these days. When you contact a local locksmith, you’ll know you’re dealing with a reputable business you can trust.


  • You’ll be supporting a small business. It’s good to know that when you call your friendly neighborhood locksmith, you’re helping to support a smaller company that makes a positive contribution to your local economy.


Ernie’s Lock Co. Is the Best Locksmith in Riverdale, MD, and Beyond

If you’re looking for a local locksmith in Maryland, Riverdale-based Ernie’s Lock Co. is ready to assist you. We’re a full-service, community-focused small business that’s been meeting the lock and security needs of Maryland home and business owners since 1960. Next time you’re locked out, remember to make us your neighborhood locksmith!

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Mobile Locksmiths Aren’t Always the Best Choice

Category : Locks

Four Reasons Mobile Locksmith Are A Scam

mobile locksmith in md

If it hasn’t happened to you yet, it’s only a matter of time until you’ll find yourself locked out of your home or car. Your first instinct will probably be to pull out your smartphone and do a quick Google search for a locksmith in the area — and you’ll likely be inundated with a long list of “mobile” locksmiths who promise fast service and unbelievably low prices. While this might sound like the perfect solution for your predicament, a mobile locksmith isn’t always the best option. Here are four big reasons why.


Quality Can Be an Issue

 Despite what their Google ads or websites might proclaim, not every mobile locksmith is a qualified professional with “years” of experience. In fact, many mobile locksmiths are poorly trained or have had no training at all. While you may get a quick response to your call, you might discover the person’s remedy for unlocking your home or vehicle is to drill a hole in the door.


Inadequate Tools/Technology

 Mobile locksmiths sometimes will attempt to portray their business as a storefront operation. However, most don’t operate out of a physical structure — their car or van often serves as their workshop, warehouse and office. This makes it difficult for them to carry the advanced technological tools and resources you’d find in any reputable brick-and-mortar lock shop.


You Might Pay Dearly for Convenience

 While most of us expect to pay a little more for convenience, you might be in for a heavy dose of “sticker shock” when you enlist the services of a mobile locksmith. Many will quote a low upfront price, then add a host of service fees after the fact that can bring the final cost to several hundred dollars.


Many Mobile Lock Services Are a Scam

 Sadly, the mobile locksmith business is a haven for scam artists who aren’t legitimate professionals. Red flags that can help you spot a locksmith scam include:

  • When you dial their phone number, you reach a call center that won’t put you in direct contact with a locksmith
  • The locksmith arrives in a plain vehicle and isn’t wearing a company uniform and name tag
  • The locksmith attributes any add-on charges to the age of your vehicle or poor condition of your home’s door
  • The locksmith demands cash and refuses to accept credit cards or another form of payment


Call A Local Locksmith In MD For All Locksmith Needs

A better alternative to calling a mobile locksmith is to contact a reputable one in your area whenever you’re locked out of your home, business or vehicle. If you need a dependable locksmith in MD or the Washington, D.C., area you can trust, make your first call to Ernie’s Lock Co.

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What to Do When Your Car Key Gets Stuck in The Ignition

Category : Uncategorized

key stuck in ignition

A car key stuck in the ignition is a common problem that is usually easy to resolve. A stuck key is not the same as a broken key — in the latter case, the head of the key breaks off when you attempt to turn it. This will usually require removing the broken portion of the key by inserting a pair of needle-nose pliers or extraction tool into the lock cylinder.

Three Simple Key Removal Steps

If the car key is stuck in the ignition and does not appear to be broken, there are several steps you can take to try to remove it:

  • “Unlocking” the steering wheel – Many vehicles feature a locking mechanism that activates when the steering wheel is turned too far to the left or right. This will also prevent the removal of the key. Turning the wheel in the opposite direction can release the lock and enable you to take the key out of the ignition.


  • Jiggling the key – Another easy method for removing a stuck key is to push down on the key cylinder with your left index finger while simultaneously jiggling the key with your right hand. This can loosen the grasp of the springs and pins located inside the cylinder and allow the key to slide out.


  • Shaking the gear selector – If your car has an automatic transmission, you won’t be able to remove the key unless the selector is set properly in park or neutral. Gently shaking the selector while in the park position can often remedy the issue.


Ernie’s: Your Auto Locksmith in Maryland

If none of these methods do the trick, you may need to call a professional locksmith for help. Ernie’s Lock Company is a reputable car locksmith serving Riverdale, MD and the surrounding areas that can resolve most key/ignition issues quickly and efficiently.


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The Dangers of Using The “KeyMe” Service

Category : Keys

If you’ve wondered where to copy keys near you and ventured into a Rite Aid, Kmart or 7-Eleven store in the Baltimore, MD-Washington, D.C. area, you may have noticed the presence of a KeyMe machine. KeyMe kiosks enable you to make duplicate keys on the spot in under 30 seconds, saving you a trip to the locksmith. KeyMe provides an easy, convenient method for producing spare keys for your home, business, auto or just about anything else that requires a key.

How Does KeyMe Work?

In addition to making instant copies of your keys, the KeyMe kiosk enables you to create and store digital copies of your keys for future duplication. There’s also a downloadable KeyMe app that allows you to digitally scan your keys with your mobile device, which produces a code that’s stored in the cloud. You can use the code to order new keys and have them shipped to you, or you can share it with anyone who may need access to a spare key.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Using the KeyMe Service?

The most obvious benefit of using KeyMe or competing key duplication services is that you’ll never have to worry about being locked out again. Assuming you’ve already used the app to scan your keys, you can head to the nearest kiosk to make a fast copy of a lost or stolen key. It’s also easy to share a key with a friend, relative or neighbor if you need them to enter your home while you’re away. In some cases, a KeyMe key can be less expensive than one generated by a professional locksmith.

On the downside, KeyMe keys do not always deliver reliable quality and may not fit properly into the lock. The service also poses several security risks. Anyone who gains access to your keys — friends, car valets, auto mechanics, thieves, etc. — can simply take them to a kiosk and make duplicates. If you’ve emailed your code to friends, there’s nothing to prevent them from sharing it with others. And there’s always the danger of someone hacking into the cloud-based KeyMe system and stealing your code!

Ernie’s Lock Offers a Safe, Reliable Alternative to Automated Key Duplication Services in MD

If the idea of using an automated key duplication service does not appeal to you, contact the professionals at Ernie’s Lock Co. instead. We’ve been providing reliable key replacement services in Maryland since 1960, and we can also alleviate the security concerns of using KeyMe and similar services.


Contact Us!

For All Your Locksmith Needs!

Our Services

    Commercial & Residential

  • High Security & Restricted Keyways
  • Key Duplication (in shop & on road)
  • Key Cutting
  • Custom Master Key Systems
  • Lock Rekeying
  • Lock Installation
  • Lock Repaires
  • Door Hardware Installation
  • Electrical Access
  • Keyless Entry
  • Safes & Vault Sales
  • Safes & Vault Unlocking Services
    Lockouts - *Within 10 Miles

  • Automotive Lockouts
  • Residential Lockouts
  • Commercial Lockouts

Store Hours

  • Monday – Friday 8 AM – 5 PM
  • Saturday – Scheduling Only
  • Sunday – CLOSED


Ernie's Lock Company, Inc. believes in full transparency when it comes to pricing! We always provide honest, competitive and up-front pricing to our customers - we don't like sticker shock. Call our licensed locksmiths today for pricing & custom quotes!


4500 Queensbury Road Riverdale, Maryland 20737