Lock Bumping: Why it's a Problem and How You can Prevent It

Posted on: 1 August 2016

Lock bumping is also called key bumping, cylinder snapping or lock snapping. It is a burglary method that involves creation of a 'bump key' which causes the inner pins and springs of a regular cylinder lock to fall out of place and hence a door to be opened.

Why is lock bumping a threat?

Many homes only have standard cylinder locks to deter burglars, without additional security measures. Key bumping works when a burglar finds a key that can fit into a lock, even though it doesn't open. He/she will then file down the key until it can open the door. There are many key bumping tutorials on the internet, meaning that anyone with a connection can learn how to create a bump key. Because of the use of a key, burglars can gain access to your home without having to force themselves in. Insurers may require proof of forced entry in order to compensate you for losses following theft incidents. Without this proof and little evidence, a homeowner's losses may not be fully compensated, if at all.

Can I prevent it?

Lock bumping can be prevented by upgrading your security system in various ways, described below:

1. Install high-security locks

Installing high-security cylinder locks such as key-operated two-cylinder deadbolt lock types can make your home completely bump-proof. You can talk to a certified locksmith about lock types and the best option for your house according to the required security levels and budget. Consider replacing your locks with non-tumbler such as electronic/magnetic locks or rotating disk locks. Electronic locks use electric currents for locking and unlocking through a complex interplay of motors, solenoids and magnets. For additional security, you can connect your electronic lock to an access control point.

Rotating disk locks have a sidebar and rotating detainer disks in place of the pin tumblers in standard cylinder locks. A single lock can have a series of 7-11 discs, and all these must be lined up with the sidebars in order for the cylinder to rotate and the lock to be opened. There aren't any springs or pins to bump with a modified key.

2. Have additional security

This is as simple as installing a chain latch on your door or as complex as having a monitoring and alarm system installed to man your security ways. Depending on your budget, do not rely on a single lock to keep your exterior doors free from intrusion. If you only have a cylinder lock, you can also install a deadlock bolt to give a potential burglar more work if they want to enter your home.

3. Rekeying and modifying existing locks

This is an affordable way to increase your locks security. You can get a certified locksmith to add security pins to your existing cylinder locks for a fraction of the cost of complete replacement. This increases the level of resistance to a bump key, making it a lot more difficult for a potential intruder. This alone can be enough to deter them, since most intruders rely on stealth and speed to pick their targets – making it hard for them to come in can be enough to get them to leave and pick an easier target.