Common Questions about Lock Bumping and What You Can Do

Posted on: 28 July 2015

You may have heard about lock bumping and how the practice represents a significant security threat. As many homes use pin and tumbler locks that are vulnerable to the practice, it's a scary thought that someone can enter your home with just a quick bumping motion and no signs of forced entry. Furthermore a simple Internet search can allow would-be criminals the means to learn the practice, and how to obtain bump keys with special grooves. Unfortunately due to the advent of 3-D printers these bump keys are now easier than ever to obtain, needing little more than a picture of the lock and the position of the pins and of course the right software. With this information, someone can theoretically product a bumping key.

What exactly is lock bumping?

Essentially, lock bumping is a technique to open locks using a specially cut blank key or bumping key in pin and tumbler locks. The key is inserted into the lock, and then tapped or bumped with a screwdriver, hammer end or other object. As pin tumbler locks include two springs at each groove in the lock, this force momentarily moves the upper springs upwards above the cylinder line, allowing the cylinder to be turned.

What can be done to prevent the practice?

The only way to avoid the practice completely is to install bump-resistant lock hardware on the home's entry points. Locks that have security pins such as spool or mushroom pins do make the practice more difficult, but it's still possible. Disk tumbler locks are also unable to be bumped, and other locks like that use side- bars to secure the lock are un-bumpable. Especially for a business, it's recommended to upgrade to anti-bumping locks such as time locks, combination locks or electronic lock hardware. Adding chains and other latches as well as a security system that sets off an alarm when doors are opened is a further way to prevent loss from a forced entry.  

How widespread is the practice? Should I be worried?

There's no doubt that lock bumping is a concern; however, the amount of instances of the practice are difficult to determine, as there are no signs of a break in, and locks continue to work as usual. One thing is that as the process makes a lot of noise, a break in from bumping is unlikely while you are at home or when an entry by stealth is preferred. Also, in most household break-ins, the most common means of entry is through windows, and a well-secured home (even with pin tumbler locks) is often bypassed for an easier target.

As the practice is becoming more well known, to have complete peace of mind speak with a locksmith from a business like Lockstar Locksmiths to learn about how you can upgrade or modify your existing locks to be bump-resistant is always worth doing.