This ‘Bump’ is Not a ’70s Dance!

Beware of ‘Bump Key’ Burglaries

by Claire Cavalieri

             Several years ago, my home in Plano was burglarized while I was out. It was so frightening, arriving home and seeing the house torn up and valuable belongings missing. I felt violated, angry, and unsafe. My doors were locked, and I believed the house was secure when I left. It wasn’t. The burglars gained entry by breaking a window, a most common method used for ages to break in.

            A recent article in the Dallas Morning News exposed a burglary method that has been around a while: breaking into homes using a BUMP KEY to quickly and easily unlock a door. It is a modern version of the old skeleton key and opens over 90% of locks. Bump keys have actually been around for quite awhile—they are basically a filed down version of a regular key—and used mainly by locksmiths to open locks for stranded people. The key works by ‘bumping’ the pins in the lock’s chamber causing them to move out of the ‘locked’ position for a moment–enough time to turn the lock. Access to this tool is quick and easy now with the widespread use of the Internet. The keys can be purchased cheaply and often come with a ‘how-to’ video demonstration.

            In the past several months, police around the metroplex have noticed a rise in home invasions linked to bump keys. Lewisville and Coppell have both suffered a costly rash of break-ins police attribute to the simple little instrument. However, it is difficult for authorities to absolutely prove a burglar used a bump key to unlock a door since it leaves no evidence of tampering. Police can’t be sure a homeowner didn’t leave the door mistakenly unlocked. As a result, it is harder to prosecute the crime.

            What can you do to protect yourself from being a victim of a bump key burglary?

  • Install high-security locks that don’t have bumpable pins. (Call me for information on the cost and where to obtain these.) Although somewhat pricey, feeling safe is priceless.
  • Use your security system regularly; if you don’t have one, consider getting one.
  • Install a simple chain or sliding lock to protect yourself when you are in your home.
  • Confirm that your homeowner’s insurance provides replacement cost for special belongings like jewelry and electronics. (You may need a rider for certain valuable items in order to get replacement cost in the event of a loss–check with your insurance company.)
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