Are bump key burglaries on the rise? A press release by a New York locksmith says yes, but there seems to be scant evidence of a current bump key epidemic. A February news story by KCRA in Sacramento citing expert attestation of bump key burglaries on the rise similarly relies on anecdotal evidence from a locksmith.
Bump key burglaries are nothing new- news reports from 2006 describe them and by 2007 newscasters were describing bump key burglaries as on the rise, with Orlando police saying that burglaries with no signs of forced entry were up by more than 700 from the previous year. Police did not specify the percentage of those burglaries might have been committed with bump keys, probably because it is impossible to determine whether a burglary with no forced entry involved a bump key unless a burglar is caught.
One of the more insidious complications of a bump key burglary is that it leaves no trace the burglar was there. The burglar can relock the door on leaving, and the only evidence of the crime is the missing items. According to KCRA’s report, this absence of forced entry evidence has led some insurers to resist paying claims on the grounds that there is no proof a burglary ever took place.
How Bump Keys Work
Bump keys can be purchased readily online and are designed to be used with a small hammer to break into any lock. Regular keys can also be modified to create bump keys. By positioning the bump key and hitting it with a hammer, the key jiggles the pins inside the locks and pops it open. Video instructions are available online to anyone wanting to learn to use a bump key.
Anyone wanting to buy bump keys- whether for legitimate purposes or theivery- can find them for sale for about $3 online. Instructions for modifying regular keys to create bump keys can also be found online.
Locksmiths have used bump keys for decades- I can remember discussion of “secret” keys available only to locksmiths in the pre-internet days when I attended college. Bump keys permitted locksmiths to help people locked out of their homes and cars get back in.
Thwarting Bump Key Burglary
Today, bump keys are no longer the sole province of locksmiths, but locksmiths have another tool in their arsenal: bump key resistant locks. The locking mechanisms are complex in these expensive locks, making a crude tool like a bump key less effective.
Ehow describes other bump key thwarting strategies to keep burglars from bump keying your locks. Their suggestions range from slide bolt locks, which are bump key proof, to electronic and combination locks, which are less vulnerable to bumping than traditional key locks.
Of course, if you thwart the bump key burglar, you’d better not lose your keys or the locksmith may not be able to get you in without destroying your lock.
Sources: http://www.bumpkey.us/Bump-Key-Videos-sp-1.html; http://www.ehow.com/how_2097319_prevent-bump-key-burglaries.html; http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/local/broward/sfl-flbsafebumpkey0524sbmay24,0,1566332.story; http://www.wesh.com/news/13256618/detail.html; http://www.kcra.com/news/10966483/detail.html;