by Robert Fox
Homeowners of course want to feel that their homes are protected at all times against intruders.
In the past, people were only worried about lock picking, but recent years have brought about the trend known as lock bumping.
Here's a video from a talk show that shows what lock bumping is, in a nutshell and why people are getting a bit paranoid once they hear about it.
As a consumer, you need to be aware of two things - when a lock actually offers true bump proof features, and when a lock company adds the term "bump proof" as a catch-all that would imply the lock can resist lock-bumping attempts, but may not exactly do the job in every single instance.
Once you start talking about "pick proof" locks, or "tamper proof" locks, a lot of non-mechanical folks are pretty well confused.
That said, being more aware of the finicky differences between bump proof and pick proof locks can help you keep your home and family safe. The above video may be your introduction to lock bumping, but don't let it bother or scare you.
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Read our article below and gain a good education on the topic!
Table of Contents
Lock picking has been around pretty much since the first lock was invented.
The art of lock picking is required by locksmiths to help homeowners gain access into their home when keys are lost (or locked inside).
It never really made sense to design locks to be un-breachable if keys are lost. So locksmiths made it so they could do just that, if necessary.
The presumption at this time, made by locksmiths, is that common thieves couldn't do the job necessary to "pick" a lock. But what exactly is lock picking?
Picking a lock simply involves using the tools to manipulate the inner components of the lock so that the locking mechanism is rendered ineffective. No kidding, right?.
In pin and tumbler locks, the pins are moved and held into the same position the key would move them to in order to open the lock.
There are a number of tools that can be used to pick a lock, including hairpins.
There are some countries that have strict laws about being in possession of lock picking tools, but in many countries, they are easy to obtain.
While we would hope that only locksmiths know how to open locks in this way, we all know that thieves are always looking for ways to break into homes.
They can pick up burglary tools easily and use them for nefarious purposes.
Watch this video showing how to pick a lock.
Next, we'll move on to lock bumping, and then we'll dive deeper into the locks that are both pick and bump proof.
Lock picking is a fiddly practice, but lock bumping is more abrupt and even easier to perform.
This is exactly why lock bumping is one of the fastest ways that intruders gain illegal access into your home.
The practice of lock bumping typically involves using something called a "bump key".
Bumping a lock leaves no trace of forced entry. This technique works on most pin-and-tumbler lock designs, which is the majority of those used on residential doors.
Bump keys can be created with just a few household tools. These keys are used along with the assistance of a bump hammer, rubber mallet, or screwdriver to force the key into the keyhole.
The quick movement of the key forces all of the pins to raise allowing the lock to open.
There are many places where you can find information on creating bump keys. Basically, just Google it, like anything else, and you'll find out where you can get a hold of some near you.
Bump keys, for the record, are not hard to get, and they are actually tools of the locksmithing trade, which makes this practice a little more sneaky in the sense that criminals are using the tools locksmiths use to gain unwanted access.
Watch this video to see how lock bumping works.
As you can see, lock bumping is much easier than you'd expect.
While you may not have heard about bumping locks, you can be sure that some burglars, who aren't complete idiots, have this knowledge and will use it as necessary.
These kinds of people are always looking for the easiest and quickest way to get in and get your valuables, so why wouldn't they do it?
The only pick proof locks are those that do not involve a key at all.
To ensure you are getting a pick proof lock, you can opt for a digital lock that requires you to do things like scan your fingerprint or enter a code.
If you prefer to still have traditional lock and key, there are some on the market that are considered pick resistant.
Look for a lock that includes an extra set of tumblers, since this makes it more difficult to pick. Notice we said "more difficult", and not impossible. This is because if there's a set of tumblers, there might be a way to pick them with the right tools.
When you're not sure what to look for, you can find pick proof in the name of the lock.
Lock manufacturers are aware that you want to be vigilant about home security. They will fully advertise the fact that the tumbler is safe from attack.
While truly pick proof mechanical locks do not exist, in that if there's a keyhole of some sort, there could be a way to manipulate the tumblers, bump proof locks are a bit "easier" to obtain for the consumer, partly due to their design.
Bump proof locks are slightly differently made than their pick proof counterparts, in that they can have keyholes, but the goal for the locksmith is different - it is to defend against bump keys, not picking tools.
One way to bump proof your lock is to purchase a lock that uses an abnormal shaped key. This may or may not be labelled as bump proof on the packaging when you purchase the lock, but it can help the cause.
Burglars that are using the bumping technique to enter homes will typically carry a set of bump keys with them.
These keys will be the sizes that fit into traditional locks. It has been said that with the use of just 10 bump keys burglars can enter 90% of the homes with traditional door locks. Uh oh.
Using an irregular shaped lock and key will help prevent your home from being one that is easily bumped.
There are also locks available that feature BumpGuard technology that uses a side-locking bar as opposed to the traditional pin and tumbler system. This of course will also defend against pick proofing.
These locks are unable to be opened by the use of bump keys. Disc Tumbler locks do not use pins and are also completely bump proof.
Locks that use a numerical keypad are going to be bump proof as well. When there's no tumbler or use of keys, there's no way a bump key can be used.
You might have to worry about an electronic device being hacked, but most burglars are not that sophisticated. Then again, some are.
They will move on to houses that have a traditional lock and key that they can easily access.
Overall, you'll be seeking out a lock that explicitly both says, and actually IS bump proof, and so when you purchase it, make sure you ask the seller, or at least ensure that the box indicates that the lock was built with bump proof technology built in.
There are many locks that have been available for years to purchase that are pick resistant.
Since lock bumping has grown in use over the past several years, locksmiths have expanded the locks on the market that are considered bump proof.
For the best protection of your house, you will want to purchase locks that protect you from being victim to both of these techniques.
If you want to ensure that your home is safe and has a lock that is both bump proof and pick resistant, your best bet is to use a keyless lock. There are many options that are available today that use new technology.
There are locks that use your Bluetooth technology along with your Smartphone to program your lock and allow you to lock and unlock it with the touch of your finger.
That's great if you have older children coming home to an empty house after school. You can ensure that they lock the door behind them when you're at work.
There are locks available that require personalized codes to be entered.
You can assign codes to each member of your family and program special codes to only be used during set time periods for people like cleaners and babysitters.
There are also locks available that scan your fingerprint to allow you access into your home.
Finally, when you get it, test it yourself. If YOU can bump or pick your lock, you can be sure a seasoned thief can too.
Thanks for reading!
About Robert Fox
Rob Fox is a former hydro worker who used to teach self defence in Miami for 10 years. He's currently enjoying his retirement, playing cribbage and golf with his buddies, locksmithing and home security in his spare time. Rob is an avid reader, and has even written a few books on the subject of self defence.