YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – There are new apps available for most mobile phones that literally could hand a stranger the keys to your home.
When WYTV heard about these apps advertising digital backups of house keys, 27 Investigates reporter Amanda Smith started investigating to find out how it works and how you can protect your family from criminals.
All it takes is a few dollars and a cell phone, and anyone could let themselves in your front door.
“Criminally, it makes it easier for someone to gain an opportunity to get in to your private space, illegally,” Howland Police Chief Paul Monroe said.
There are several new apps that will mail you keys and all you have to provide is pictures and a credit card. It costs about $6 a key.
“I figure if someone is going that, they are paying $6 for a key, they are doing it illegal. There is something not right with that picture,” Ray Easterbrook, a locksmith with Austintown Lock and Key, said.
Smith wanted to see if it would really work. She took two pictures with her cell phone and it took about 3 minutes to upload them and order the key.
A week later, she received a key in the mail that fit perfectly into her front door.
The company said their service is safe and does not create risk. They said their service is priceless for business owners and property managers.
“There are a lot less traceable ways that you can make a copy of those keys than our website. We require a non-prepaid credit card, we need a picture of the front and back, meaning you have to physically have a handle on these keys,” said Jordan Meyer of KeysDuplicated.com.
Meyer said people need to protect their belongings.
“Keep their keys just like they would any other private information like an email address, Social Security number. Keep it stashed away so nobody can see it,” Meyer said.
“You have to be aware of your belongings. You have to be aware of your keys. When you go to the gym, you can’t just simply hang them up on a rack. You can’t use the public box. Someone could quickly take pictures of your keys,” Howland Police Chief Paul Monroe said.
Locksmiths said there is another step you can take to protect your keys. They are ‘DO NOT DUPLICATE’ keys and they can be made for nearly any lock. Online services and discount retailers cannot copy these keys.
“A locksmith will not copy it, if they are a reputable locksmith. A good locksmith will honor this. Your Home Depots, your Lowe’s, they don’t know what it is,” Easterbrook said.
Smith said she was worried about her family’s safety and she changed her locks after researching this story. If you are worried about your home security, call a locksmith for advice.