Lock Bumping; How Can You Protect Yourself from It?

Commonly referred to as ‘rapping’ or ‘key bumping’, lock bumping is lock picking technique for opening a pin tumbler lock using a specially adapted bump key. It began its life as a specialist trick of the locksmith’s trade, however, as the years have passed, the technique has become a trick in the book of criminal’s intent on gaining illegal entry to properties, and as such, pains have been taken to ensure that modern locking systems are immune to it.

What is a bump key and lock bumping?

Made by taking a key that already fits into a certain type of lock and filing it down, a bump key is used in a lock along with a tool of some description to hit the key, or bump it, until the pin is forced to bounce and the lock comes open.

When was a bump key first in use?

Way back in 1928, a US patent appeared by a gentleman called H.R. Simpson for what was then referred to as a rapping key, while the use of a bump key (similar but not quite the same) was introduced much later. Recognized as a security threat in 2002-2003 by a German individual, security experts then began talking publicly about bump keys and lock bumping, notably about its potential as a threat to security.

What locks are most vulnerable to lock bumping?

Lock bumping is perhaps most effective in homes with older locks that have internal tumblers, and unfortunately, many online tutorials are in existence that detail exactly how to use a bump key.

How can you protect your home or business from lock bumping?

Fortunately, there are a range of steps you can take to help protect your property (and its inhabitants) from anyone using a bump key to try and gain entry: 

  • Invest in a high-security lock
You might save a few dollars on cheap locks, but what you can end up losing should you be burgled, is always going to outweigh the benefits of any small savings made when buying a lock. The more expensive a lock is, the more complex the mechanisms inside it are, and the less likely you are to be a victim of a home intrusion or theft. Talk to your local locksmith about your lock options and which would be best for your particular home.

  • Use different types of locks
Again, your local locksmith is in the best position to advise you about which locks would be most effective for deterring criminals who are adept at lock bumping, from gaining entry to your home or your business. Magnetic, rotating disc, electronic and combination locks are not at risk from bumping methods.

  • Install a security system
This can be a significant deterrent for criminals and be hugely effective at keeping your and your property safe at all times. Your local locksmith will have a range on sale that they can install for you, and they’ll talk you through how it operates as they’re fitting it.

If you’re at all worried about becoming the victim of lock bumping, talk to your local locksmith at the earliest opportunity and help put your mind at ease by taking on board their advice and security upgrade suggestions.