Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Bump Keying Bullshit

Oh my god, the world is ending, locks are no good, everyone can get at my stuff....

Bullshit, or rather, mostly bullshit. This video from the netherlands
is rather hysterical about bumpkeying, a technique for rapidly opening pin tumbler locks; saying how it leaves no signs of breakin and your insurance wont cover it, no houses are safe from burglars etc...

Well, there's a good point there, but it's not that we're all doomed.

First thing, yes bump keying is easy, and it has been around forever. It is not a new discovery. We used to do it with hand files, worn out keys, and a screwdriver. A power rake, a key gun, a tumbler shaker etc... all work in the same way; and conventional rake type lock picks aren't very different, you just use a tension wrench rather than a mallet.

Oh and yes it's easy, but it's not nearly as easy as they make it look on that video to actually MAKE a bump key. You need some experience and experimentation time, as well as the right keyblanks etc... though you CAN buy sets of bump keys for different lock types on the internet.

What IS new, is this fun little internet thingy to distribute the technique. Also, it’s a lot easier to get key cutting machines and the like than it used to be.

Second, that’s an insurance company in the Netherlands. Our homeowners insurance companies are a lot better to deal with than they are. If your stuff is missing, and you file a police report, you get paid out.

Third, bump keying doesn't work nearly as well on newer schlage and yale style locks as it does the standard euro style cylinder and mortise locks (which suck beyond belief BTW. Hell in most of eurpose, skeleton keys are still standard). It still works, but it’s harder and fiddlier.

Fourth, if you REALLY want a secure lock, buy a Medeco; they arent unpickable, but it takes an expert a long time.

Fifth, if someone wants into your house, they are getting into your house. No lock is going to stop them.

Sixth, the whole “signs of lockpicking” thing is mostly bullshit. It only works on brand new locks that haven’t been used very much yet.

Signs of lockpicking means very small scratches from the tools. Well a modern multi-pin tumbler lock is picked using rakes and tension wrenches, and for the most part the scratches they leave are not very different from the scratches a key makes. There MAY be scratching on the face of the lock, but those may be from the other keys on your keychain. Even with careful forensic disection and examination no-one can tell you with any accuracy that your lock has been picked.

Seventh, far more common than lockpicking, is key copying. Valet parking, car wash attendant, hardware store clerk, car dealer… these are all fruitful sources for high end burglars. Add in alarm repair folks, garage door installers, gardeners and cleaning staf etc... I think you get the picture.

Eighth and finally, if you arent rich, with lots of nice stuff, they’re not going to bother with the lock. Lockpicking takes time, and they want to be out of there in less than 4 minutes (minimum response time to an alarm). The lock is too slow, so they’re going to pop the frame on your back door or on a window. It takes maybe 3 seconds with a crow and a mallet, and sounds no louder than dropping a book.

So don't worry about bump keying; but don't count on your locks to save your stuff. THe best thing you can do is get a good monitored alarm system, with an audible alert (scares the amateurs away) and a dog.