Lock Bumping - a New Phenomenon?

by : Jeff King



The term lock bumping conjures up images of people in stripy jumpers with eye masks on bumping against a locked door on the off chance that it will open and they can fill their bags full of 'swag'. The reality is a lot less glamorous and a lot more worrying.

Lock bumping refers to a method of picking a lock that is effective against pin-tumbler locks. These types of lock are prevalent throughout the world and are used on most North American doors. It involves the procurement of a key blank for the type of lock that you want to open and an amount of work dependant on the type of lock that you have.

It has been shown on popular television that an average person can effect entry into your home using this technique with very little training. It is not a new practice by any means. Lock bumping was first documented over 50 years ago in Germany when Dutch and German locksmiths were experimenting with this technique for legitimate reasons.

The dangers have been brought home to the public by the power of information technology. Lock bumping was picked up by the media in 2003 and a report was commissioned by the lock pickers association in 2004. The information was picked up by the TV companies and then spread through the internet. It has now become a much debated topic.

The reality is that you are far more likely to be burgled because you left the front door or a window open or someone simply broke down your door. The main reason for this is that lock bumping requires the procurement of a blank key that fits your lock and an amount of tapping around the lock on your door with a hammer, something that would not go un-noticed in the most unfriendly neighborhood.

The message has to be don't panic. Most modern locks have some degree of protection against bumping and Schlage and Medeco locks cannot be bumped. Many locks and keys are patented and this means that the availability of the key blanks is strictly controlled through authorized dealers. Only a rogue employee or a disaffected dealer could cause problems in this area, someone who can easily be traced.

Although statistics show that a large percentage of break-ins have no sign of forced entry the reality is that these probably occurred because a window or door was left open or the homeowner misplaced their keys and could not admit to it for insurance purposes.

If you are concerned that your lock could be susceptible to lock bumping the best thing to do is to ask a professional locksmith for a survey of the locks used at your property. They will be able to tell you if you are at risk from lock bumping techniques and will also be able to recommend new locks that cannot be bumped.

The main thing is not to worry unduly about this supposedly new technique. It has been around for many years and you are not likely to arrive home and find your house full of uninvited teenagers, unless you've got one of your own and they've invited their friends around for a party.