Lock Bumping / Bump Keys
SUMMARY: Forwarded emails link to videos demonstrating a breaking-and-entering technique used by criminals known as lock bumping or key bumping.
Description: Email flier / Video
Circulating since: January 2007
Email example contributed by an AOL user, Feb. 7, 2007:
This was sent to me and you need to watch it. It's called Lock Bumping. It allows a thief, or anyone, to open your lock in seconds.
Comments: True. The lockpicking method demonstrated in the linked video, variously known as "lock bumping," "key bumping," and "bump keying," isn't new, but it was unknown to the general public (and even to many locksmiths) until 2005, when information about it began circulating on the Internet. Since that time, a plethora of how-to articles, videos, and even do-it-yourself bump key kits have appeared online, resulting in a spate of cautionary news coverage in early 2007.
Properly applied, the method can open all but a few of the most common pin tumbler locks in use, including those typically installed on most people's front doors. All it takes is a specially-cut "bump key" (also known by locksmiths as a "999 key" because all the notches are cut to the maximum depth of 9) and a lightweight mallet for tapping the key into the lock. When the key is slid into the lock and "bumped," it momentarily jars all of the tumblers into a position that will allow the bolt to be turned. It's just that easy for someone to break into your home without leaving a trace.
How prevalent is lock bumping?
But here's the nitty-gritty question: How prevalent is lock bumping, really? At this point no one knows for sure. Police say they don't have statistics on this type of forced entry because it's virtually impossible to tell the difference between a lock that has been bumped and one that was never locked in the first place. There have been few, if any, cases of burglars actually being caught with lock bumping tools in their possession. Even so, the prevailing wisdom seems to be that now that this information has become so readily available, use of the technique by criminals is bound to increase.
Can you protect yourself from lock bumping? Yes, but it involves replacing standard locks with higher quality (and much more expensive) bump-resistant models. Consumers are probably best advised to consult a reputable locksmith or security expert for specific recommendations.
Burglars Use Lock Bumping to Enter Homes
NBC 5 News, 7 February 2007
'Bump Keys' Allow Criminals Access to Locked Doors
WLBT News, 6 February 2007
Old Burglary Technique 'Key Bumping' Making Waves Online
KLTV News, 5 February 2007
Locked, but Not Secure
Engadget.com, 24 August 2006
Lockpicks See Security Flaw in Most Locks
Newsweek (Web only), 5 August 2006
Last updated: 02/08/07