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

lock-bumping

 

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?

Steps

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.

Are You Letting Criminals Into Your Home? Vetting Your Service Person Before He Comes Through Your Front Door.

repairman

Think of all of the repair people who have entered your home.  Did you know them personally?  I doubt it.

Over the course of the past decade, legislation has been introduced – and often passed – to limit an employer’s ability to request a job applicant’s criminal history.  Admittedly, every speeding ticket you’ve received is in some database somewhere and can be found, but how do we as a society balance minor infractions with the right to privacy?  I’m not sure where the balance of publicly available data lies but I do know that every time we let a stranger into our home, we have exposed ourselves to potential danger.  That’s a practical assessment, not fear-mongering, but caution should be second nature to us all.  Unfortunately, life bears out the need for proactive security measures as we sadly witness from the below tragedy:

From the local ABC station:

An exterminator has been found guilty in the murder of a young pediatrician and researcher at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

35-year-old Dr. Melissa Ketunuti had graduated from Stanford University medical school, worked in Botswana and spent about five years at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia as a physician and researcher.

37-year-old Jason Smith was found guilty of murder and related offenses Wednesday. Police say he was the last person known to have visited her home.

It happened in a row house on the 1700 block of Naudain Street in January of 2013. Police say Smith from Levittown, Pa. ended up strangling Ketunuti and setting her body on fire in the basement.Shortly after he was arrested, Smith gave police a lengthy confession.

He told them Ketunuti confronted him in the basement and started questioning his work. He said he eventually became enraged and started choking her.

One such tragic incident is horrible enough but we all know from news accounts of the many instances of homicides, rapes, theft, etc. that have stemmed from letting strangers into our homes.   Giving strangers access to our homes can hardly be avoided as everyone, sooner or later, will have the need for a repair, delivery or pest removal.  We hope and trust that the stranger has been vetted but why would leave such critical background information gathering in anyone else’s hands or go on faith that the repairman is a good guy – or woman. Also, as more concierge services such as Magic emerge to help us in our busy lives, we’re removed another step from clearly being able to identify service or delivery people coming into our homes.  (Magic operates via text.  Customers text 83489 with a request – for anything from pizza delivery to an electrician service call – and Magic agents coordinate delivery/service via partnered companies.  The service calls are still in beta mode.)

Referring back to the homicide of Dr. Melissa Ketunuti,  in the below video, our friend and renowned security expert/analyst, retired law enforcement and black-belted martial artist, Steve Kardian of Defend University – a women’s self-defense institute in NY, outlines several basics of home security when admitting a service person past the front door:

1. Hire from a reputable and known company.

2. Request the full name and, as is now possible, a text photo of the operative coming to your home.  Check this info against a government photo i.d. – not the company i.d.  Of course, s/he has a government I.D. – didn’t s/he drive to your home?

3. Have someone else in the home with you during the repair appointment.

4. If you can’t have another adult with you during the service call, video and audio record the repair person, transmitting in real time to a remote pc or trusted person. (Many service people may object but remember, this complete stranger now has access to you, your family and your home. Tough.)

5. Run your own criminal background check on the repair person.  (Steve suggests various services such as Intelius that perform criminal history searches.)

In any and all cases, as Steve emphasizes, listen to your instinct.  You should be uncomfortable with a total stranger in your home.  Protect yourself as best possible – that is your only true obligation.

BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.

As always, stay safe.

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