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Editor's Blog and Industry Comments

Youtube brings burglary to the masses by hosting lock bumping video

15 April, 2008
The 35 year old technique of opening pin tumbler locks by making the secondary pins momentarily jump is gaining rapid widespread popularity through the availability of ÃâÅ"bumping keys" and how-to videos on the internet.
Lock bumping is a technique used to force open the kind of cylinder locks that secure millions of homes in Europe and America. These locks are composed of a line of dual-stacked pins with the lower line of varying height. The correct key will raise the pins to varying heights allowing the upper pins to line up and so the lock will open.

Bumping keys which are easily available over the internet have a profile just enough to raise the pins slightly. If this key is bumped in the keyway, it excites the pins momentarily with enough force for the upper pins to bounce into alignment long enough to rotate the cylinder and open the lock without the lower pins rising high enough to cause misalignment.

With such ease of availability of the keys and the simplicity with which they can be used, the effectiveness of such locks as a security measure is being brought seriously into question. The implications for the householder are also serious since the use of such keys leaves no sign of forced entry, thus potentially invalidating insurance claims.

The problem relates to the design of the lock and, paradoxically, the better quality locks are easier to bump than either old or poor quality products. The pin stacks, like any mechanism, operate more easily if they are within manufacturing tolerance and well maintained. If the key way, cylinder or pin stacks are worn or damaged, the lock is more prone to "looseness" or jamming and will be consequently harder to bump.

Since a large number of house breaking crimes are committed by petty criminals who lack the sophistication, technical skills and resources of organised criminals who have bigger goals, making the keys available on the internet and having an instructional video available on a social networking site just hands them the means for simple forced entry on a plate.

Modern locking systems, however, are widely available from specialist retailers and even the DIY chains since deadlocks, electronic locks, magnetic pin actuating locks and other locking technologies are nothing new.

Quadruple stacked pin mechanisms from Kaba and disk tumbler mechanisms from Abloy are just two examples of locks that can't be bumped.

Without changing pin tumbler locks, many homes will remain vulnerable, especially since its clearly visible which kind of lock you have just by looking at the door.
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