Lock Bumping Helps Criminals Break In

Thursday, April 23rd 2009, 10:14 pm
By: News On 6

By Lori Fullbright, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- If you think your home is secure, just because you lock the door, think again.

Criminals can get past 90 percent of all locks with a simple technique called lock bumping. It leaves absolutely no trace, so police and insurance companies will never know.

Lock bumping is done with bump keys that can be bought online. They will fit in nearly every lock made.

When you put in the bump key, it won't turn, but hold it a certain way, give it a few taps and it opens.

The criminals already know how easy this is, but many others don't.

"I've been doing this 35 years and used to do it all the time," said Randy with Holders Security.

Tom and Lois were very curious to see whether their home could be broken into with the lock bumping technique and were unnerved when they saw it could.

It would take a criminal just a moment and a tap to be inside their home.

"Amazing, absolutely amazing," Lois said.

The method is much quieter and attracts less attention from the neighbors than kicking in the door.

Patrick thought his home was secure, until he saw home could be broken into the same way.

"It seemed pretty easy, just tap and he was inside," he said.

Lock bumping is done with a bump key, which means you modify a key with deep cuts, then put it in, give it a tap or two and you're in.

Gene Holder with Holder's Security says this works because the vast majority of locks are pin-tumbler locks, which means there are two sets of tumblers in the lock and once you tap the bump key, it separates the tumblers so the key then turns.

Holder says criminals know about this because word travels fast in those circles. There are plenty of how-to videos on the Internet, which means the good guys are playing catch up.

"It's a good idea people know what's happening out there, then there are options, ways of putting security on there," Holder said.

Sheri Renfrow, owner of Tapestry of Faith Gifts near 41st Street and Peoria Avenue, wishes she would have known about lock bumping before she became a victim of it.

"The policeman said to me he felt they used what they call a bump key to get in the front door," Renfrow said.

Burglars got into her store and took jewelry, money and other valuables.

No window was broken, there were no scratches on her lock and she was left with a sick feeling, especially when trying to explain it to her insurance company, who had never heard of the technique.

"If you're worried about lock bumping in particular, there's a number of products on the market, high-end locks are resistant to lock bumping or a number of products that are relatively inexpensive that basically the lock turns part of the lock, in place where even your key can't open it," Tulsa Police Sgt. Brandon Watkins said.

A few companies make high-security locks that are bump proof and cost $100 to $150. It's still cheaper than an alarm system, although experts recommend you have both.

No one knows how many break-ins are caused by lock bumping because it leaves no evidence, unlike kicking in a front door, which is still the most common type of burglary.