'Bump Key' Can Unlock Many Locks
Nov. 9 - KGO (KGO) -- A new crime is spreading across the country and it is doubtful you've heard of it. It attacks our homes and businesses right where we feel the most secure.
You may not have the only key to your home. The bad guys may be able to unlock your home. This is a low-tech crime that takes very little effort or training. The bad guys know all about this and after reading this report, you will too.
It's an insider's secret -- an easy way to open just about any lock.
Locksmith Dennis McEntire shows me the ropes, using what is called a bump key. It gets its name because you bump the key, then the door opens.
Dennis McEntire, Bay Area Locks: "What a bump key is, is a regular key modified, filed down basically. It will then fit and open any lock that it can slide into. It works on just basic physics."
So here's your physics lesson. When a normal key is inserted in a lock, little pens are pushed up and out of the way, allowing a cylinder to spin, opening the lock. With a bump key, the pins are bumped out of the way for a split second, allowing the cylinder to spin.
Dennis McEntire: "Once someone understands how this works, then it becomes clear how easy it is, how effective it is."
Security industry insiders and professional burglars have known about this for decades. Word got out of that fraternity following a crime wave of unsolved burglaries in Germany.
A Dutch news report explained the crime wave by explaining bump keys. On the Internet that one report morphed into a series of tutorials showing how bump keys work.
And that brings us back to the Bay Area and to Dominik Meonki's front door.
Dominik Neomki: "Oh, I see, as they're jumping you're turning it."
Exactly. Here, however, we are foiled. The bump key doesn't work. So we go inside to a secured storage door.
Dominik Neomki: "Oh, there we go. That took about 30 seconds."
ABC7's Michael Finney: "What do you think?"
Dominik Neomki: "That's pretty good."
Michael Finney: "That's amazing isn't i?"
Dominik Neomki: "I think they probably shouldn't be selling those on eBay."
And it isn't just eBay. I bought 10 bump keys online for a total cost of $17.50.
At the ABC Broadcast Center in San Francisco we have highly trained security officers, cameras, monitors and security of all types. Will a bump key work here? We decided to find out. We tested the bump key at the front door of our building. Now, if you weren't Michael Finney, security wouldn't allow you to mess with the front door in this way.
Michael Finney (as he watches ABC's front door unlock): "That's incredible."
Dennis McEntire: "There it is."
Michael Finney: "Should I be doing a story on this?"
Dennis McEntire: "If it's so easy and it takes very little skill, that is a real threat to everybody."
So what's the solution?
- High security locks that don't have bumpable pins.
- Home security systems -- if you have one, actually use it.
- A simple chain or sliding lock that will offer protection when you are in the house.
Are bump keys legal? For more on that , read The Back Story.
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