Opening and changing letterbox lock

Need a locksmith’s help in opening and changing your letterbox lock? You’ve come to the right place! 

Understanding the needs of our customers, we have two choices for our customers to choose from: the Target brand and the REAL brand locks. But before we begin: 

Who should I approach to change my HDB letterbox lock?

 Contrary to popular belief, letterbox lock replacement is done by locksmiths, not the HDB or the town councils.

For condos and commercial buildings, we strongly recommend checking with the respective managements in charge, as they may have aesthetic regulations in place. This means that you may need to change it back to the same letterbox lock type as your current one. 

IC verification procedure

Before opening and changing the letterbox lock, we will first verify that the unit belongs to the customer. This is done for security reasons. Do note that we can only proceed  after the verification is complete.  During this process, we will not take down your IC details, or retain your IC.

Sunrise brand

A photo of a Sunrise brand letterbox lock is displayed, with 1 new key, fully metal, being inserted into the keyhole. The other key is hanging on a key ring that holds both keys together.

The Sunrise brand letterbox lock is an excellent, affordable choice. The level of security provided is adequate for everyday usage. As it can still be picked open, it may not be possible to know if someone has accessed your letterbox lock without your permission.

If you are still receiving important letters, or letters containing personal information, this may not be the correct choice for you. This comes with two new keys that are fully metal. 

Target brand

An image of the Target brand letterbox lock installed on a letterbox door, with one key inserted into the keyhole and the remaining two keys dangling from the attached key ring.

The Target brand letterbox lock is a good, affordable choice. The level of security provided is adequate for everyday usage, but can be picked open by locksmiths. This can be a problem, as it may not be possible to know that someone has accessed your letterbox without your permission. If security is a major concern, this may not be the right letterbox lock replacement for you. Three new keys comes with this lock.

REAL brand

Normal design REAL brand letterbox lock

Flushed design REAL brand letterbox lock

The REAL brand letterbox lock provides a higher level of security. This is more durable, and is much more secure than other letterbox locks. It possesses a thicker back plate that can resist forced entry. As we can’t pick this open, we need to damage it if you lose the keys. Signs of unauthorized access can be easily seen. If you’re still receiving important documents and parcels via your mailbox, we advise getting this lock..

This comes in two designs: normal and flushed. Apart from the aesthetic difference, both are similar in security and function. Three new keys come with this REAL brand lock. 

Owing to the design of the key, they are harder and quite expensive to duplicate.

MESA brand 

Image of a Mesa brand letterbox lock freshly installed on a letterbox. This is the most similar type to the HDB letterbox lock with normal keys. One key is inserted into the keyhole, while the other key is dangling from the key ring.

If you’re finding the REAL brand keys difficult to duplicate or use, we have the MESA brand letterbox lock for your consideration! The level of security provided is also great for everyday usage, although it can still be picked open by locksmiths. This may be a problem, if you’re expecting  important mail or packages through the letterbox. 

The keys are made entirely of metal, and the lock itself is made of brass  This may be desirable for customers who desire a better quality for their lock, but without the hassle of the REAL brand keys.  Why not give this a try? 

How to identify a letterbox break-in

This is an example of how a damaged letterbox, or an attempt at a letterbox break-in will look like.

Photos of a damaged letterbox, from the front, and side.

Break-ins can occur via several ways. The first involves asking a locksmith to open the lock via non-destructive methods (lock picking), or to physically force the letterbox open. 

Another creative method is by taping the end of a long object with double sided tape and retrieving letters via the letterbox flap. 

We advise locking the flap to prevent prying eyes, and investing in a good lock such as the REAL brand lock to prevent such incidents from occurring. If you’ve noticed missing packages or letters occurring repeatedly,  we would advise making a police report. 

When and why do I need to change my letterbox lock?

Good question there! Here are the five most common reasons cited by our customers:

1) Moving into a new unit

Our customer wanted to replace the lock, as the  previous owners had given  them duplicate keys. Unfortunately, this wasn’t a full set as well.  Additionally, the new owner revealed that the previous owner was still accessing the letterbox, because  letters were constantly vanishing.. We advised the owner to change the lock, since the unit already belonged to him. 

2) Loss and misplacement of keys

Opening and changing a letterbox lock

The customer had misplaced his keys, opting for opening and changing the letterbox lock. This would provide him with 2 new keys. Additionally, he could also duplicate the amount that was required.

3) Harassment issues

Superglued letterbox lock

Our customer’s letterbox lock had been superglued. After conversing with him, we found out that this wasn’t the first time that his lock had been tampered with. This wasn’t casual mischief, but insidious harassment. We immediately advised him to take photos of the superglued lock, and to make a police report instead with these pictures as evidence, so that he could report the harassment effectively.

Image of a keyless letterbox lock that has been superglued on the left, labelled “Before” on the top left corner, and an image of an OCEAN brand letterbox lock with a key inside the keyhole, on the right, labelled “After” on the top right corner.

Thinking that you may be safe if your lock doesn’t come with a keyhole? Not true! 

We were surprised to discover that our customer’s number lock had been superglued. They had contacted the police before engaging us. When we arrived, there were telltale signs of dried glue dripping down the lock, and on the lock itself. The gaps in between the scrollable numbers had also been glued, so the numbers would not move.

We broke the lock and returned it, advising that the old lock be kept as evidence. We also suggested making another report if the mischief returned.

4) Broken key inside the letterbox lock

Key broke inside lock

The key had broken inside  the lock.  Our customer still had a spare, so we suggested removing the key and preserving the original HDB lock. After removing the key,  we realized that it had already been slightly bent. The keyhole inside was also rather dry, as we experienced stiffness while testing with the spare key.

After spraying some WD40 into the keyhole, the customer remarked that it was much easier to turn the key.

5) Unauthorized access to letterbox, with items found missing 

Recently, there have been cases of letterbox break-ins, from letterbox tampering to the stealing of grocery vouchers. Prior to these incidents, we had received feedback from customers that their letterboxes had been accessed without their permission. Their  parcels had been disappearing over a period of time. This led us to realize that there were already break-ins happening.

Additionally, we also receive suspicious requests to open the letterbox lock, specifically without damaging the lock because they want to lock it again after it’s opened. We find these cases fishy, and request that they produce the IC for verification purposes. In return, excuses are given (the IC was not updated yet to the latest address). In return, we decline these jobs.

Check out the video at the bottom of this article, for two simple tips on how to secure your letterbox!

When do you not need to change your letterbox lock?

1) Letterbox key breaking off and getting stuck inside the lock

We also receive cases in which the key breaks off and gets lodged inside the lock. If this happens and you still have a spare key, the lock can still be rescued in some instances by removing the broken key.

2) Not being able to insert the key fully

Can you insert your key, but can’t turn it fully? Your lock may need a little realignment, or clean-up. We can show you how to get your stuck letterbox lock open.

3) When the metal plate of the letterbox lock has been reversed

We have started receiving cases of supposedly ‘faulty’ letterbox locks from an increasing number of customers. Usually, letterboxes are discovered being left open when customers collect their mail. When they try to lock it, they can’t do so. 

What piqued our interest was how they had been using the lock without any issues all this time, after ruling out door misalignment and incorrect keys. What on earth could have caused their locks to suddenly malfunction overnight?

After inspection, we realized that the metal plate of the lock had been reversed. This results in the door being unable to be secured, as the metal plate cannot make contact with the frame to keep it locked. For the letterbox to be suddenly left open meant that it was accessed without their permission, through lockpicking.

The top panel shows the back plate of a letterbox lock that has been put in the wrong direction. The hooking part of the metal plate is facing the inside of the letterbox. When this happens, the customer is unable to lock their letterbox door. The bottom panel shows the back metal plate of a letterbox lock which. The hooking part is facing the correct direction.

With the previous incidences of questionable locksmithing ethics, we are currently suspecting that this is a possible tactic, which theoretically appears to be more low-key than using superglue. 

If you’ve encountered this, we urge you to file a police report before touching your lock, with additional photos of the front and back of the lock as photographic evidence.

Do you have digital letterbox locks for replacement? Why don’t you carry these?

Really sorry, but we don’t carry these locks because they aren’t secure. Have a look at the video below, and you‘ll see what we mean. 

I still need to change my lock, how do I contact you guys?

If all else fails and you need to change your letterbox lock, you can contact Vincent Locksmith directly at 8812 7499, or via this page to drop us an email. We can change both HDB and condominium letterbox locks. If you’ve contacted us outside of our operating hours, we will reply on the next working day! 

Found this post informative? Be sure to like and follow our Facebook page too, and follow us on Instagram – this way, you’ll never miss out on an update when we post!

This post first appeared on 1 April 2018. It been updated on 14 April 2024 to include the section on why we don’t use digital letterbox locks, which our customers may find useful for making informed decisions.

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Opening and changing letterbox lock
Article Name
Opening and changing letterbox lock
Description
Opening and changing a letterbox lock, as the customer had misplaced the keys. We also have different types of letterbox locks for replacement, such as Sunrise brand, Target brand, REAL brand and Mesa brand locks. Additionally, we also talk about the various situations in which customers choose to replace their locks.
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Vincent Locksmith
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