By August 17, 2006

Bump keys unlock most locks

Oddly enough, this was posted in a Nintendo Wii/Revolution thread on Ars Technica’s Open Forum. It’s about bump keys, an easily made key blank that, combined with a blunt object, can open almost any lock within seconds. Netherlands lock-picking enthusiast group Toool was featured on a television program showing how easy it was to open most locks with a “bump key.”

A bump key is easily made. The easiest way is for a keycutting machine to be set to its deepest setting (the 9 position) and then cutting off a small piece of the shoulder and the front of the key. This allows for the blunt object to slam the key blank into the lock and “bump” the pins up so that the lock can be opened. Lockpick Tools is offering a three-key bump key set and a bump key “hammer” for $29.99 plus shipping. According to their estimation, this would allow someone to open 50% of the locks in the United States with just three keys and a hammer. Locks that can be opened include popular brands from Kwikset, MasterLock and Schlage, which are commonly sold at Home Depot, Lowes, etc. You can also buy sets of five keys or more from eBay for as low as $14 plus shipping.

There are locks that are supposedly “bump proof,” but this is a huge issue, considering the sheer number of locks deployed in the United States alone.

I am glad that I have simple backup alarms on all the windows and a monitored alarm on all of the doors. If someone gets past those, the two dogs are another redundant system, followed up by the ears of myself and Lady Jaye. While getting through all of these precautions is not impossible, it makes me feel better knowing that we have some defense, especially considering the types of crimes that have happened in the area this year.

3 Comments on "Bump keys unlock most locks"

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  1. Schneier has blogged about key/locksmith tips before, but this one is news to me. Wow. I have Schlage locks, but don’t know where they fall in safety (other than that my friend Sally who used to work in construction said they were better than a lot of them).

  2. drfaulken says:

    Unfortunately for you and me both, Schlage and Kwikset are considered the easiest to pick or open with a bump key. It also depends on the type of lock you have, certain locks are more difficult to pick than others.

    There is an interesting cross-over, wherein the harder locks to pick are among the easiest to bump and vice-versa.

  3. Ctrix says:

    Oh well. Fortunately, my house is not filled with thousands of dollars of electronics. Though the idea of a home invader while I’m at home is not fun. But a determined thief would just come in through the sliding glass door, safety bar or not.