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Lock Blog

A resource for consumers, locksmiths, and security professionals

How Secure Are Lockboxes?

by Wesley September 5, 2022

Realtors, entrepreneurs, and homeowners alike, have busy lives and are constantly preoccupied with day-to-day activities. You are showing houses, renting out commercial spaces, and looking for new tenants to fill vacancies all at the same time. Efficiency is a commodity, and when it comes to securing your properties, lockboxes can be valuable assets.

A lockbox can save you time and money by allowing people physical access to a property or building without an owner or realtor present. This means you can show to more people and have a greater chance of making a sale without having to be there every single time. Pretty good deal if everything goes well, but are lockboxes safe?

Lockbox security is critical because you never want to put your property at risk. For decades, the lockbox has been manufactured to protect keys and small items, making lockbox security a top priority for everyone. Determining whether lockboxes are the safest method for storing building and home keys is what we will be discussing via the following categories:

These are important categories to analyze in order to fully understand lockbox security and determine how it can work for your benefit. But before we immerse ourselves in the details, let us answer a few questions and learn more about lockboxes.

FAQs

Are lockboxes safe?

Generally, lockboxes are safe for storing keys. Are they the most secure, foolproof system ever created? No, that is a bit of a stretch. Lockboxes face several issues for home or office security because these products are of low quality. Yet lockboxes are always being marketed to real estate agents as safe.

Is lockbox security ever adequate enough to the point where you can allow remote access to a home or building without worrying about mishaps? Sure! Everyone has a different opinion about how much they want people to have access, but there are no guarantees.

Just like most security issues, and any property for that matter, you are always at some level of risk. Anything can happen to anybody on any given day, which might sound cliche, but it is very true. Lockboxes are as vulnerable as other forms of security that we will talk about later.

Can people break into lockboxes?

Yes. People can break into lockboxes. Improving lockbox security can help fight against it, and both residential and commercial locksmiths can provide assistance that will boost protection. But right now, you should know that lockboxes are susceptible to breaches similar to how people can break into cars or pick an office door lock.

Someone with enough ambition and persistence can pretty much break into anything. Anybody in the security industry will tell you that the majority of home invasions are motivated by people who are not willing to quit. A lot of burglars are turned away by security cameras, outdoor lighting, motion sensors, or some other type of deterrent.

So, then what is the best way to counteract this behavior? Lockbox security enhancements can better protect keys and properties. For example, where you place them is a big factor, as well as how prepared your door is for unwanted visitors will sometimes play a role. Realtors face this issue frequently when showing properties, and we will get into all of that throughout the rest of the article.

Where do you put lockboxes?

Lockboxes are traditionally placed on the front door of a house, building, condominium, office, etc. Some people switch things up and use back or side doors for more concealment. This is typically a good idea and offers more protection. But sometimes, you do not have that option because the property only has one entryway.

Under these circumstances, you might want to consider buying a higher-quality lockbox or using some other type of security system. Lockbox security has made some modern advancements in recent years with Bluetooth capabilities and smartphone applications that make access easier and more controlled.

How do you fix a frozen lockbox?

This situation does not apply to everyone, but if you live in a cold-weather climate, then you know exactly what can happen when temperatures drop to blistering cold extremes. Everything freezes from your car door to the roads and bridges in your community to the air being inhaled into your lungs. Simply put, everything freezes, and so do lockboxes.

Luckily, there are a few ways to solve the issue. You can take a screwdriver or metal tool of some kind and chip off the ice that is blocking the lockbox from opening, almost using it as a chisel. Another option is thawing the lockbox with hot water or some sort of heating device such as a blow dryer or space heater. This method is less effective and presents its own challenges because now you need electrical power while it is freezing outside.

The best advice for fixing a frozen lockbox is to try using a tool or some lubricant, and if that does not work, contact the property owner and let them know about the problem. It may be time to wait for a warmer day or until someone who knows what they are doing can resolve the issue!

Lockbox Anatomy 

Lockbox security begins with the basics of what a lockbox is and how the different parts work in cohesion for optimal function. Everyone knows lockboxes are more or less metal containers that store keys and other small items for the purpose of accessing them later or whenever is most convenient for other parties.

The mechanics of a lockbox are not too complicated. The outer metal shell is a combination of aluminum and alloy steel that is sturdy. It can endure the elements. There are five main parts of a lockbox that we will label from the top going down:

  • Shackle: An adjustable cuff located at the top of the lockbox that will attach to the door handle or door knob. This is what secures the structure in place and keeps it in a lock-tight position.
  • Open Lever: A long, narrow button you press down once the correct combination is entered on the number pad. Pressing down will release the locking mechanism and get you inside the storage compartment.
  • Number Pad: A series of scrollable numbers, often a 4-digit combination, that can be set to a specific code. Once that code is entered properly, the open lever is activated.
  • Storage Compartment: The small space inside the lockbox where sets of keys can be stored along with other small items.
  • Weather Protection Cover: This encapsulates the entire front face of the lockbox and protects the number pad. Simply lift the cover, enter the combination, and push the open lever for access. The small space inside the lockbox where sets of keys can be stored along with other small items.

All of these parts working in unison with each other help bolster lockbox security and make it a formidable piece of equipment. The parts listed above work best when the lockbox is made with high-quality metal and materials. This is not always the case, as some lockboxes are made of plastic and cause huge security risks.

Residential locksmiths would never recommend someone using a plastic lockbox for any practical reason. It is too much of a risk. And the barrier to entry is extremely low. Anyone with a simple tool kit can break or smash the lockbox and go right inside. The tone of this article so far has been anti-lockbox, but there are good reasons for that.

Lockboxes present some benefits that make them desirable, particularly in the real estate market, because they can aid in accommodating more people. This is when you have to ask yourself, what is more beneficial, serving more people or heightening your security? You have to find the right balance.

Lockbox Benefits

Part of finding that perfect balance is knowing the good and the bad. We are starting with the good and highlighting the benefits of lockboxes. Keep in mind that these are not necessarily the benefits of lockbox security. There are three main reasons why lockboxes are commonly used in commercial and residential settings:

  1. Convenience
  2. Speed
  3. Volume

Notice that none of these concepts involve security-related functions. That is okay for the time being, but we will be circling back to it shortly. Realtors and landlords gush over lockboxes because they offer these three unique characteristics that are better for the overall business.

1. Convenience

Lockboxes provide a ton of convenience and flexibility because it does not require the owner of the building to be there in person. Say you are driving around the neighborhood you want to live in, and you see a for sale sign on a home that looks promising. You can easily find the realtor’s contact information, but how do you immediately get inside to see if you want to buy the house?

Well, modern lockboxes can be placed on the front door that allows remote access at the property owner’s discretion. It might require a mobile smartphone app or a phone call to the leasing office and/or agent themselves, but you can gain access right away to the lockbox.

2. Speed

The second appealing feature of lockboxes is how fast they let you in. Not only can you walk up to a random house and follow instructions for entry, but it all happens quickly. Once you know either the combination or have the unlocking mode on your phone, you can get into the lockbox within a few seconds.

3. Volume

Over enough time and booking a large portion of remote viewings, real estate agents and landlords can show more properties to more people. This means a faster amount of sales at a faster rate. Quite the incentive to keep lockbox security in place for the future. Locksmiths and security professionals will respectfully disagree.

There are blurred lines between making money in the real estate industry and improving lockbox security. You are now informed about the benefits of lockboxes, but now it is time to educate yourself on how these devices can be manipulated by people intending to commit crimes and trespass and potentially steal from properties.

Lockbox Bypassing Methods

Lockbox security is defined by how easy it is for someone to bypass the locking mechanism and retrieve the keys stored inside. Maybe novice observers think this is a difficult task to pull off. But in reality, anybody can do it with the right tools and information. And sometimes, criminal activity has nothing to do with lockbox security.

We spend a lot of time focusing on what burglars might do and trying to predict how they are going to execute these devious plans. But there are instances when you simply need to get into a lockbox because you either lost the key or forgot the combination. And when that happens, you need to open a lockbox without a key.

Opening a lockbox without a key can be done in several different ways that include but are not limited to drilling, prying, cutting, decoding, and shimming.

Whether these lockbox bypassing methods are being used for criminal or legitimate reasons, the fact still remains that the likelihood of success is extremely high. That equates to compromised lockbox security and the very flawed idea that these devices can actually protect your property on their own.

Locksmith Advice

The days of hiding your house keys are over, as lockboxes and remote devices are popular ways of expanding access in the commercial and residential property space. But these little boxes are sometimes made of plastic or very thin metal. Not to mention they are not bolted down in any capacity.

Professional locksmiths know what keeps burglars away from your home or office as well as what security equipment complements a lockbox. Reinforcing door jambs can add an extra layer of protection to your property or apartment door lock that will supplement having a lockbox on the door handle.

Locksmiths can even help you choose the right door that will hold up against the most amount of direct force. There is an untapped wealth of knowledge that homeowners, realtors, and landlords can utilize for everyone’s benefit and improve lockbox security across the board. The only thing left is having the willingness to implement the recommended solutions.

Will it cost money? Of course, it will. That is always the case when you are upgrading security. But what is more cost-effective, putting cheap lockboxes on all your properties or paying a relatively small fee for expert advice upfront? You are going to spend countless dollars fixing property damage and replacing the stolen property with unreliable lockbox security.

Making the additional effort of consulting with a locksmith is a cost-saving measure long-term because it will prepare your home or office for unforeseen circumstances in the future. Lockboxes are used today by people across multiple industries, and there are inherent problems that can come from this. Locksmiths can enhance lockbox security and help protect everyone.

Closing Thoughts 

You always have a choice about how you secure a property. There is no one universal method, and there certainly is not one method that will guarantee lockbox security does not face potential breaches. Does that mean you should never use a lockbox? No!

Some quality lockbox manufacturers make great products, especially technologically advanced ones. And with specific improvements carried out by a professional locksmith, you can fortify your property and supplement lockbox security using their knowledge and expertise!

Category: Buying Guides, Safety & Security

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