Can A Burglar Access Your Home Via Key Entry? He Can in 90% of U.S. Homes.



Memorial Day weekend is upon us and so therefore are home burglaries.    And let’s face it – with the uptick in family travel and vacation during holidays and the fast-approaching summer season, one can reasonably presume that the number of home break-ins will increase dramatically during the next several months. From time to time in the upcoming weeks, we will post security tips that we hope will increase your personal security risks and management.

This week we will concentrate on the first usual point of entry – the family home door.  Whether it is the front, side or basement door, burglars know how to get inside and to your property.

As if evilly purposed technology isn’t bad enough, the old-fashioned methods of breaking and entry are still widely used by burglars.

A phenomenon known as ‘lock bumping’ is on the rise. It’s a little-known technique that’s fast, simple, and very discreet.  It draws far less attention than breaking in a window or tearing down a door.  If your cylindrical door lock is one of the more popular brands or models on the market – and 90% of home door locks are cylinder-models and ACME types – you’re vulnerable to this particular type of illegal home entry. Lock-bumping requires a bump key.

What is a Bump Key?

A bump key is a key in which all the cuts are at the maximum depth (999). Bump keys can be cut for standard pin tumbler type locks as well as “dimple” locks.   (From lockwiki: A dimple lock is a pin-tumbler-based lock design that uses flat side of the key blade as a bitting area. Cuts on the bitting area resemble dimples, hence the name. This contrasts traditional pin-tumblers that use the edge of the blade as the primary bitting area.)


How is lock bumped?


Image titled Bump a Lock Step 1

  1. A key type is determined that fits inside the target lock. In most cases, a particular model of lock will accept all keys from that model because only the teeth of the keys are different. In other words (and as mentioned above), once a burglar has an Acme-model bump key, it could open all other Acme-model locks.

    Image titled Bump a Lock Step 2

  2. Obtain a bump key. There are two ways to obtain a bump key: one way is buy the type of key for the model lock in question and ask the locksmith to lathe a “999” key, a kind of key where all the valleys are at the deepest possible setting.   ORImage titled Bump a Lock Step 3
  3. Cut one’s own bump key. With a copy of the key in question made, a burglar will then use a metal file to create his own bump key.  All of the valleys are filed down so that they are even with the lowest point in the teeth.
Of course, then there is this simple bump method:
A special “bump” key is inserted into the target lock and then struck with a tool made of rubber or plastic, such as this blue tool on the bottom of the image. The impact of the bump key on the tumblers inside the lock temporarily pushes them up, allowing the lock’s cylinder to turn. When done right — and it’s not hard to learn — this method can quickly and quietly open a lock.
In our next mid-week Beacon Bulletin, we will bring you information and videos on how to bump lock-proof your home.Just remember that your personal safety and that of your family is paramount.  Whatever knowledge in this area that we may impart, do not back up it with a plan to confront a burglar unless it is absolutely necessary. If a successful entry does occur, hopefully, no one will be home and material possessions are not worth a life.

BNI Operatives; Situationally aware.

As always, stay safe.

You’re On Vacation: The Burglars Aren’t. Security Tips

how they break in

Latest stats released on home burglaries from the FBI: (Mid-Year 2013 report, last year available.)

– A burglary occurs every 8 seconds.

– Burglars spend an average of 8 to 12 minutes in the targeted homes.

– There are over 5,400 burglaries, per day. 

– 73.9% of all burglaries were on residential property.

– Of residential burglaries where a time was known, 65% were during the day.  (Data analysis yields a pattern by  burglars to target homes during the day and offices and commercial buildings at night.)

– 60.5% of burglaries are forcible entry.   (Burglaries are more often than not by forcible entries  – breaking windows, picking locks, kicking in doors, etc. – and are not crimes of opportunity.)


The school year is coming to a close (or may already have ended) and the hostage situation at the gas pumps aside, most families have planned vacations  this summer.   (The etymology of the word vacation itself : from the Latin root vac, is to render something/someone “empty” (vacuum, vacate, vacuous, etc. Somewhat ironic in the case of a home burglary during a family’s away time.)

In today’s Bulletin we are going to give you the standard “what to do to make your home look occupied while you are away” tips and a few more up-to-date security pointers.  (We suggest you copy, paste and print this list as you effect the helpful suggestions.)

Traditional Tips:

• Stop mail and newspapers, and ask a trusted neighbor to pick up any deliveries that might be made while you are gone.

• Place several lamps and radio/TV in various parts of your home to automatic timers, so they turn on and off at appropriate times. (Also vary the timers by the unit so that the living room light does not come on at exactly 7 p.m. every night…).

• Arrange to have the lawn maintenance performed while you are away.

• Don’t leave keys in obvious exterior places like in the mail box or under a flower pot or door mat. Leave your house key with a trusted neighbor/relative.

• Instruct your neighbors to report unusual activity to the police – and not to wait until they can contact you first. You may be holed up in a Carlsbad cavern for several nights or in a clinic following a run-in with the bulls in Pamplona.

• Have a neighbor park their car in your driveway overnight (and move it around from day-to-day).

• Don’t leave notes indicating your absence.

• Many security experts advise unplugging the electric garage door opener while you are away. We don’t. A burglar’s scanner can easily detect whether the device is activated. Simply place it too on a variable timer.

• Make sure all your door and window locks are working and in use.

• Turn off or turn down your telephone ringer. A phone ringing endlessly is a clue to a would-be burglar that no one is home. This is especially important if you are living in an apartment building where burglars may be more likely to hear your phone ringing. Call forward your incoming calls in your absence.

• Unless you have reason to believe your piping system is in bad shape and may burst in inclement weather, do not turn off your main water valve before you leave. Fortunately, technological advances in utility services now offer scanning options that don’t require exterior meters on houses – an inactive one a sure clue to a burglar that the home residents may be away.

Contemporary Tips:
• Be careful as to how specific your automatic email “away” responses from your email – business and personal – are set up. You might as well pay the ad rates in the NYT.   Forward your email to an assistant or whomever is covering while you are away or simply to yourself. (Yes, it’s annoying while on vacation.  No one said you had to read/respond to them.) – or –

• Have your email/snail mail forwarded to a virtual post office. They can hold, forward, scan or even read your email/mail to you. Big advantage: the forwarding is discreet and undetectable.

Generally, we tend to believe and trust in the good of the vast majority of people; being smart and proactive with your home and valuables while you are away helps many to  maintain to that standard.

BNI Operatives: Street Smart, info savvy.

As always, be safe.