JOHN'S LOCK & KEY -
What Property Managers Need To Know About Apartment Building Master Key System Lawsuits

In the past year or so I have received several inquiries from property managers in charge of large apartment complexes about deactivating master key systems. It turns out that the issue here is about hiring practices rather than locks. Sadly, there have been several recent cases where vendors working for property management companies have used a master key they were given access to in order to commit a crime. 


One of the first principles of good key control is that you should never give a person more access than they need, and one of the first principles of good hiring is that you should always perform a background check. And it would seem that a background check is now warranted with regard to the vendors you use as well.

Part of this can be solved with regard to locksmiths by checking if they have their Locksmith License from the California Department of Consumer Affairs. For part of the process of getting this license is that a person working as a locksmith in the State of California cannot have any felony convictions.

One of the benefits of working with John's Lock & Key is that you only deal with John. John's California Locksmith License is LCO 3522 and when you call John's Lock & Key you only talk to John and only John performs your service. 

The message here is that there is nothing wrong with having a master key system but there is everything wrong with having poor key control and lax hiring practices. And I am sure all of you good property managers out there already knew both of these things anyhow.

The "Minute Key" Device is in fact
a Machine With No Ethics

The new "Minute Key" automatic key cutting machine is billed as the first new innovation in key duplication in decades.  The reason for this is that it is a stand alone device which requires no contact with another human being.

I have been curious about these new machines so I went and tried one this morning.  The first thing one notices is the price.  Copies are offered at many different prices, depending upon the key blank stock desired, yet the lowest price per copy at the place I visited was $3.

The next issue I noticed was a technical one.  The machine has you put the blank in a slot so you end up in a position where the blade of the key is in the machine but the head is not.  This is curious for several reason (the first of which is that the head shape of a key is really the primary thing a person uses to identify the keyway). 

I was curious at how well the machine could identify the keyway so I gave it a special restricted keyway to look at.  It identified it as being the common Schlage keyway and thus failed to cut me a working key.  Thus it appears that unless one is trying to copy a common keyway "Minute Key" is a waste of your $3 (or more!).

The second issue I noticed was purely ethical.  Since the head of the key being copied is always outside of the machine the machine has no way of knowing what might be on the head.  Here of course I am referring to a "Do Not Duplicate" or "Do Not Copy" stamping.  

Thus the "Minute Key" will copy keys marked "Do Not Duplicate."  This flies in the face of the most basic ethic of key duplicating and has the potential to put many people at risk because of a preponderance of unauthorized keys allowing access to sensitive areas.

This will all work itself out in the courts I am sure yet in the meantime anyone who is relying on a "Do Not Duplicate" key on a common keyway to protect them or their property is at risk.  If this is you contact John's Lock & Key today about converting to a restricted keyway.   

Our restricted keyway will not restrict you from doing business with anyone else, like the Schlage Primus does, and is also affordable (at around $45 per cylinder as compared to over $100 per cylinder for Primus).  Another advantage of our restricted keyway is that is prevents lock "bumping" by preventing any common bump tool from even entering the keyway.
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