Chances are you haven’t even heard of lock bumping, and it you don’t know what it means, first be glad you haven’t personally experienced it; and second, it’s time to learn more about a growing problem which allows criminals to breach your locks, oftentimes without even causing damage to the lock itself or any sign of forced entry.
Bump keys have been around for a long time, although it used to be only professional locksmiths had access to and used them. Today, bump keys can be easily purchased online and the growing incidence of home break-ins are evidence that this growing criminal trend means an associated increased threat to your security.
A simple Google search or YouTube search yields hundreds of articles and videos on how to purchase and use bump keys. According to one such tutorial, bump keys work almost as well as having an actual key, and a set of 10 bump keys in various configurations enable criminals to open 90% of typical tumbler locks. Buying more expensive locks doesn’t make you immune to the bump key epidemic. In fact, According to the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI), bumping tends to work better on more expensive locks, since the hard, high-quality parts work more smoothly. The success of the bumper depends on practice. Very little skill is required, and the learning curve is short.
How Does a Bump Key Work?
InterNACHI explains the process of key bumping in this way:
- Keys operate by aligning tiny spring-loaded pins inside the lock. Once the pins are correctly aligned, the cylinder will turn and the lock can be operated.
- To use a bump key, the “pull-back” method is common. With this method, the key is inserted all the way in and then pulled back out one notch. While keeping rotational pressure on the key, it is then bumped into the keyway with the heel of the hand or with a device of some sort.
- The “bumper” needs to bump the key hard enough to jar the pins, but not so much that the lock or key is damaged. Bumping the key causes the pins to jump slightly. Even this slight amount of motion is enough to allow the bump key to turn the cylinder, unlocking the lock.
Lock bumping takes only a split second to open the lock. The lock is not visibly damaged, although the force of the bump can leave an indentation on the front of the cylinder. Certain clicking and vibrating tools designed for bumping can also be used. These allow for rapid repetition of bumping against locks that have advertised “bump proof” features. In reality, a rare few key-pin locks are immune to bumping.
How can you protect yourself against key bumping activity?
That’s where a local locksmith can help. Big Red Locksmiths can inspect your existing locks, recommend lock security measures or upgrades, and help give you an edge against key bumping criminals. Call us at 402-554-0499 to talk about options for protecting your home and property.