Welcome to an edition of the Adventures of a Vancouver Locksmith. A series where we explore some of the more interesting jobs or situations we encountered. As one of the most popular locksmiths in Vancouver, I can’t cover everything I do in a month. So I will just include the stuff that I found interesting or something I think a commercial or residential client should keep an eye out for.

As always, if you need a professional Vancouver locksmith that puts your needs first, please call or text me at 604-363-2760 or email me at alex@locksmithvancouver.com. We offer same-day service and the best warranty in town!

A bit of unfortunate news to start this off. Due to high inflationary pressures on everything, we had to finally increase our hourly rate to $175 per hour and our fuel surcharge to $35 per trip. That means all jobs will cost $210 plus GST as a starting point. 

We resisted as best we could and had not raised our rates for over 5 years, but we had to this Fall to keep ourselves in business.

On the flip side, we are not planning to raise our key store prices immediately. There are a few handful of keys whose base prices have skyrocketed in the past few months so they cost a bit more, but 99% of our keys still have 2017 prices. So get them while you still can!

On the subject of our key store, my wife and I moved to Port Coquitlam in mid-September. To catch the West Coast Express to get back home at a reasonable time, our store hours are changing to 9:30am to 3:30pm Monday to Friday. Our mobile service will still be available 24/7 as usual with normal working hours from 10am to 6pm Monday to Friday.

A quick update on the status of the FSB order we talked about in the last article. Disappointingly, the shipment has yet to arrive, and we’re rapidly approaching the 2-month mark at this point. Disturbingly, I have yet to receive an estimated delivery date, so I’m really hoping it magically appears in the next few weeks.

It will be nice to have a few FSB Mortise lock cases in stock just in case something happens to my FSB clients in buildings like the Fairmont Pacific Residences. For me, it is important to have parts available for my clients when they need them. No one likes being told they will have to wait an indeterminate length of time for anything. Especially, when it is the front door to your home. 

I heard from somewhere that the Mazlow’s Hierarchy of Needs is no longer in vogue. However, no matter how you put it, security is going to be high on everyone’s list.

On another note, Summer has supposedly ended and we are now in the Fall season. Given the weather this morning, it is easy to believe though I think it depends on what part of the Greater Vancouver Region you live in. With Winter around the corner, I personally cannot emphasize enough the importance of winter tires on my work and personal vehicles. 

Last winter, I was called to an emergency lockout service call around midnight in New Westminster. Now anyone who has lived or visited New Westminster knows that the city sits pretty much on a hillside on a downward slope.

Up until February of 2021, my work vehicle was a Toyota Rav4 with AWD. Combined with winter tires, I never had problems with snow and ice. However, after having my windows smashed four times and all my tools stolen four times, I decided to upgrade to a High Roof Sprinter Van. 

In truth, I really wanted the 4×4 version, but it was stupendously expensive and the wait time was months long. I guess this version is very popular with the Overlanding and Camp Van conversion crowd.

I figured that with winter tires, I would be fine. And I was until that night in New Westminster.

I had just finished the job and was pulling out when the rear tires began to slip. I got out to examine the ground and there was ice about a centimetre thick and about a meter long below the left rear tire. The front tires had traction, but the Sprinter is a Rear Wheel Drive vehicle, so I was hooped. If I had chosen the Ford Transit instead, I would not have had any issues because that vehicle is a Front Wheel Drive vehicle. Of course, if I was in my Rav4, it would have been easy as pie.

So in the end, I had to call for a tow truck. They were overloaded with similar requests, so I waited an hour in a freezing cargo van with little to no insulation, while turning the engine on sporadically to warm myself and not freeze to death in the long dark (pun intended).

Starting a vehicle in slick conditions is hard. Stopping a vehicle in slick conditions is even harder. Get your winter tires.

What’s the point of this story? Get yourself winter tires this year and save yourself a lot of grief. Also make sure to carry a steel shovel, angular sand, or road salt in case you get yourself in a lot more trouble than you expected.

Regardless, I love the Sprinter Van. It has room for a lot more inventory and tools which enables me to service my customers much better and faster. It’s a pleasure to drive and the higher seating position gives me a more commanding view of the road in front of me, less so for the sides and back due to the lack of windows.

I loved it more when the diesel prices were more reasonable. I would love to go electric, but there are currently no commercial electric vans available to purchase at a decent price. 

If you order a service call, my van is a big nondescript white cargo van. I debated getting my business logo and info printed on the sides. It would be a great advertising platform, but it would also make it a magnet for thieves. Unlike most other trades, my tools will allow thieves to break into other vehicles and buildings much more easily. Plus, after being robbed on average several times, I do not want the hassle and cost of replacing all my tools ever again.

Like any professional, a locksmith is only as good as his/her tools. It does not matter how much experience one has, without the proper tools all that experience is a bit useless. Improvised tools may work sometimes but nothing is better than the right tool for the right job.

A locksmith is only as good as his/her tools.

So when my tools were robbed from me, I was fairly useless for a few days while I re-purchased them all. 

While on this topic, some of my clients are interested in increasing the security of their vehicles. So here are a few tips to physically harden the security of your vehicle.

Physically harden the security of your vehicle against thieves.
  1. Purchase a vehicle with an immobilizer device or have one installed. Thieves may break into your car but at least they won’t be able to drive off in it. Most modern vehicles come with this pre-installed. However, many older commercial vehicles do not unless it was specified in the build order.
  2. Purchase a dash cam. If you get one that stores its data on the cloud, that’s even better. The police love video or photo evidence. It may not help you right now, but it will help others plus your insurance adjuster may request it.
  3. Purchase and use a steering wheel lock. I know a lot of clients who purchase one then never use it. It won’t stop a determined thief but combined with an immobilizer, it will make stealing your vehicle much more difficult. Remember, items can be replaced, but replacing your vehicle will be much more painful.
  4. Keep items out of sight. A lot of hatchbacks and SUV’s have a roller shade that covers the trunk area. A lot of my clients don’t use it as it prevents the transportation of larger items like a pack of toilet paper from Costco. Thieves are much more likely to break into your vehicle if they see something worth stealing. 
  5. Tint your rear windows. This is along the lines of keeping things out of sight. Don’t make it easy for criminals to make you a victim. However, don’t over-tint them.
  6. Install security screens and/or secured compartments.
  7. Purchase a cargo van with no rear windows.

Step number 6 is for people who regularly carry valuable items in their vehicles. It may be a bit overkill for regular Vancouverites. However, with the rising number of property crimes, it may be worth doing for some.

Basically, vehicular security screens or cages are what the police and sheriffs use on their vehicles. It’s a metal grate or polycarbonate sheet that covers the rear and trunk windows. What prevents prisoners from kicking out the windows and escaping also prevents thieves from breaking in and stealing your stuff.

Companies like Sentina sell this stuff to law enforcement and retail customers alike. There are a small handful of companies in the Fraser Valley thathysically harden the security of your vehicle will install these for you. Unfortunately, they only make these for vehicle models that are popular with Law Enforcement such as:

  • Ford Crown Vic
  • Ford Explorer
  • Chevy Tahoe
  • Etc.

After my work vehicle was pillaged the very first time, I really wanted to install these screens/grates. However, they don’t make any for a Toyota Rav4. This is not surprising since I’ve never seen a marked or unmarked police Rav4.

The other option I explored was to install secured compartments into my vehicle. These are basically locked metal cabinets that usually hold a cop’s shotgun, ammo, emergency equipment, etc.

Once again, not surprisingly, these are made for vehicles like:

  • Ford Crown Vic
  • Ford Explorer
  • Chevy Tahoe
  • Etc.

So I was out of luck again. For me, I could not do any of this with my Rav4, but I do have a few clients who had the right vehicle model and had these installed.

The most recent client was a dog owner who wanted to keep the rear windows open during the summer so the dog could get fresh air while maintaining security. 

It took me another three robberies to switch to a cargo van. Switching from a small Rav4 to a High Roof Sprinter Van came with its own hilarious and painful hijinks, but that’s a story for another time.

The only thing I will say about this matter right now is to get a cargo van with no windows. Driving visibility in the rear is going to be bad regardless and the windows are just asking for a smash-and-grab. There’s really no reason for a cargo van to have windows unless you are using it or camping or overlanding.

As always, if you need a professional locksmith in Vancouver or the Lower Mainland that puts your needs first, please call or text me at 604-363-2760 or email me at alex@locksmithvancouver.com. We offer same-day service and the best warranty in town!

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