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 we open and change the letterbox lock, we will first verify that the unit belongs to the customer for security reasons. Only after verification, will we then proceed with the opening and changing of the letterbox lock. During this process, we will not take down your IC details, or retain your IC.

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

We also have the REAL brand letterbox lock, which provides a high level of security. Due to the design of the internal locking mechanism, this is much more durable than other letterbox lock types. Additionally, it is also more secure. The only way to open this is by damaging the lock, which foils attempts at non-visible access. This is because there have been cases of letterbox break-ins. We have been asked on a few occasions to open the letterbox lock without damaging it, or to open and lock it back. This lock will foil such attempts at non destructive methods, since it needs to be damaged before it can be opened. However, the keys for this lock are harder and quite expensive to duplicate.

To add further, the back metal plate of the REAL brand letterbox lock is much harder then the other letterbox lock back plates. This can also foil attempts at letterbox break-ins.

If you receive important documents and most of your mail through the letterbox, we advise getting the REAL brand letterbox lock. It has a thicker back plate that can resist forced entry, to the extent that the letterbox flap will sustain more damage than the actual lock. In order to open this lock, it will need to be damaged, so signs of unauthorized access can be easily seen (eg, a newly replaced lock which you did not change, or signs of damage on the lock).

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.

Some of our customers opt to change to this lock, as they often purchase things online. As the parcels are delivered to the mailbox, it is possible for others to spy through the flap, and attempt to take the items either by engaging a locksmith, or to break the lock by themselves if there are no CCTVs nearby.

For the REAL brand letterbox lock, we have 2 designs – the normal design, and the flushed design. The main difference is that the normal design has a protruding style, while the flushed design sits almost flat against the letterbox. There is no difference in security or function. Three new keys come with this REAL brand lock.

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

We’ve finally come to the most important question of all. 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

The owner had just moved in and wanted to replace their letterbox lock, as the previous owners had not given them the full set of keys for the letterbox, which were duplicate keys. Additionally, the new owner revealed that the previous owner still had access to the letterbox, as letters were constantly vanishing from the letterbox. We advised the owner to change the lock, since this was already his unit, and not the previous owner’s.

2) Loss and misplacement of keys

Opening and changing a letterbox lock

Opening and changing letterbox lock! The customer had misplaced his keys and opted to open and change the letterbox lock. This would provide him with 2 new keys. Additionally, he could also duplicate the amount that was required.

Panels 1 and 2 show the unlocking process, while panel 3 shows the mailbox, bereft of the lock. In the last panel, the newly installed letterbox lock is shown, along with the 2 new keys provided.

3) Harassment issues

Superglued letterbox lock

Our customer contacted us to change the letterbox lock, as it 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 was not 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? Think again…

Our customer contacted us as their keyless 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

For this case, the key had broken in the lock while our customer turned the key. As they still had a spare, we suggested removing the key and keeping the existing lock. After the broken key removal, 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, as their parcels had disappeared. 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 below 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

Are you able to 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 are unable to 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. So 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 encounter 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.

I 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.

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This post first appeared on 1 April 2018, and has been updated on 9 March 2023 to include new lock offerings and content, which our customers may find useful for making informed decisions.

Opening and changing letterbox lock
Article Name
Opening and changing letterbox lock
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 the Target brand and REAL 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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