Consumers are unaware that when they purchase a lockset, deadbolt or decorative hardware at a big box store, they may be getting the same key that opens their neighbors home.
Mass retailers often purchase products by the case. Many locks come in these cases "keyed alike, or keyed the same" as one another. Consumers should examine the packaging to determine if a label indicates a serial number and then check to see if other packages have the same number. If there is, there is a good chance that someone else has purchased the same lock using the same key combination.
Many of the original keys that come with your new lock hardware are stamped with a set of numbers. In most cases it will be 5 - 6 digits. These numbers are your actual lock combination. You can also check the packages to see if these numbers match.
If your neighbor shops at the same retail store, there is a possibility that your key may fit their door, or their key fit yours. One concern regarding the visible combination is that anyone can see it, which means they know the combination to your home and can have a key made. Your local professional locksmith can replace these keys with unmarked replacements. They can also rekey your new locks to a random combination to provide greater security.
If any of your keys appear like the picture provided, you should consider calling your local SOPL Locksmith to receive professional advice and service.
Members of he Society of Professional Locksmiths participate in continuing education and professional development programs.
Tom Lynch, CRL