Lock Loophole


Steve Jefferson/Eyewitness News

While you may think every time you lock up others are supposed to be locked out, think again. It's called lock bumping, and if you haven't heard of it, you will soon. This old lock-picking technique is the newest thing to hit the internet. How-to videos of opening locks with a "blank" key have popped up on You Tube and Google.

But just how easy is it? Eyewitness News went to several Indianapolis area locksmiths to find out.

Tom Freund of Welworth Locksmith tried several times but was unsuccessful at bumping a lock. We also talked with Ron Jones, owner of A to Z Mobile Locksmith Company. He's constantly working on various locks systems. While Jones is familiar with picking locks or drilling processes, he's skeptical about lock bumping: "I have never known to tap a key like that and the lock turns."

Other locksmiths, like Frank Kitchen and Duke Drummond have been able to use the technique. During our interview Drummond was able to take a modified key and bump a brand new lock several times, but not in a row.

"We insert this bump key in there. Then you take it and wrap (hit) it. Sometimes it will go first time. Sometimes it will go second or third time. But now it's turned," he said.

To do this it takes someone knowing how to modify a key and practicing the technique. But before you think you should go out and replace your locks, the Indianapolis Metro Police Department wants people to know that so far no known "lock bumping" incidents have happened in the metro area. 

Still, IMPD Officer Lt. Brian Clouse has gotten alerts from police in other states. "It's spread across the internet and of course we have a lot of bored people that have a lot of time on their hands that are playing around with this and unfortunately criminals are part of that element."

So what can you do to protect you and your family? Locksmiths can add pins (mushroom or spools) to the tumblers in your locks that make them harder to pick and virtually impossible to pick a deadbolt.

Experts also recommend buying brass or steel deadbolts that are at least a grade two.
Update old locks, and re-key new locks, especially locks labeled, "Match Number for Keyed Alike Locks." This means that other locks out there can have the exact same key type codes. This is especially important if you're buying locks off the shelves at hardware stores, because many can be sold in batches with the same types of cut keys.

Other suggestions include installing deadbolt locks wherever you have an outside door.

To find out more on lock bumping and ways to protect your home check out the links below.

MSNBC/Newsweek Lock Bumping Article

Associated Locksmiths of America 

Pin Tumbler Lock Design

Lock Bumping Lowdown