What is Lock Bumping and How to Prevent it

Lock bumping is becoming quite popular in American crime, and that puts homeowners and business owners in danger.

Your home is supposed to be a sanctuary, a place where you can go and feel at peace. This new epidemic threatens that, which is the reason you need to be aware of it. You also need to learn how to prevent it.

What Exactly is Lock Bumping?

Lock bumping describes a technique that criminals use to open deadlocks using a key sometimes called a 999 key or a rapping key.

The key can be easily produced and sometimes purchased online, which is giving would-be criminals more access to this type of key, putting everyone in danger. You can thank 3D printing for exasperating the problem because people can print their own rapping key for less than two dollars, which is how criminals are buying them so cheaply online.

A good 999 key can open a home in no time and shows no signs of tampering. You would be surprised how many burglaries have no signs of forced entry.

Some of the burglaries that show no sign of forced entry are sometimes linked to simple mistakes property owners make, like leaving their home unlocked or windows open. You can add bumped locks into the mix because they too can create the safe effect. Keep in mind that most home insurance companies deny burglary claims if there is no evidence of forced entry.

The Internet has made things worse because people can access tutorials on how to use bump keys but can also get demonstrations on popular online sites, such as YouTube. If there ever was a case to be made for some censorship, it would be here, where criminals can be easily taught online.

Bump keys exploit the pin tumbler locks weakness, which is a weakness many locks have. The key looks like any old key with the dips and spikes you would expect. When you look at the key, there isn’t much about it that would imply it is a bump key. The difference is in the cuts or the valleys because all bump keys are set to the lowest possible cut, which is sometimes called the 999 position.

The burglar has to have a bump key that matches the entry way. The burglar cannot predict what kind of entry your lock is going to have, but burglars can buy a bump key set, and one of those should fit your lock.

Once the key has made it pass the entry point, all the criminal has to do is tap it with a hammer or screwdriver to force the pins to go inside the lock. This puts the pins in the perfect place so that all the person has to do is turn the key and open your door. All this happens quickly, and it’ll simply look like a person is opening your door with a regular key.

Think about it, even a neighbor or members of your Neighborhood Watch might ignore this person if they see they were able to open your door with ease. It could imply that you lent keys to this person while out or vacationing.

Is There Something You Can Do?

Some of this information may make you feel helpless, but you shouldn’t feel that way. You have the power to prevent this from happening if you take the right steps. The following are a few suggestions you should try to keep in mind:


Visibility is your best friend when it comes to preventing a criminal from gaining access. Yes, bump keys make it easier for someone to enter your home, but that does not mean the criminal is not going to take some time to figure out the key entry size.

Furthermore, doing a crime is scary, so criminals still look nervous or suspicious as they attempt to gain access to your property. This type of behavior can make cops and neighbors suspicious. Be sure to have good lighting on all entry points, and make sure there are no big trees or bushes that would help would-be-criminals hide.

Neighborhood Watch

A well-informed Neighborhood Watch organization can keep an eye on your property. As mentioned before, someone in this organization might think the person gaining access is someone you allowed because they were able to do it so easily, but that is only if they are uninformed.

If you explicitly tell this organization you are going to be away and have not given access to your property to anyone, then this could definitely make anyone gaining access to your property a suspect. The Neighborhood Watch can simply follow protocol after the suspect is seen entering your home.

Security Cameras

The next thing you want to do is install security cameras around your property. No burglar is going to be comfortable with the idea of being on camera, so this is a good deterring tool.

You want to make sure you add a few cameras by your door so that you can see who is coming or attempting to compromise your lock. There are now motion sensor smart cameras that can alert you when they are triggers and even give you live video straight to your smart device. Having evidence like video could be submitted to not only the police but your home insurance company if needed.

Security Pins

You should consider having your locksmith install special security pins into your lock. These are designed to make the lock harder to bump though they are not perfect. The point of these security pins is they will bind before they reach the sheer line, which is the point where the lock can be compromised by the bump key.

Yes, the burglar can still make it into your home, but it is going to take him or her considerably longer to do so, and that is not what the criminals want to deal with. The struggle may attract others and make it easier to detect that he or she is attempting to break into your home.

High-Security Locks

You can also install high-security locks that come with all sorts of features that make them harder to be compromised. For one, the material is harder to drill into or break. The locks are a lot heavier, and the screws are much thicker than normal locks, which is helpful in fighting criminals.

The thing that makes them especially powerful against lock bumping is that the key cannot be duplicated. The lock and key is only made by one company and that company alone. The key issued for that lock is given to one security company. The inability to duplicate the key gives this lock power. The only drawback for homeowners is these locks are usually reserved for businesses, so they will seem a little different from regular residential locks.

Keyless Option
Key-less Locks

One last option to consider are keyless deadbolt locks. These types of locks are becoming the talk of the town in a sense, and it is mostly because property owners are starting to see how easily some locks can be compromised by bump keys.

The keyless deadbolt does not have a key entry, and therefore, cannot be compromised in this fashion. It is important that you make sure the keyless deadbolt you purchase is a newer version because older ones still have key cylinders that can be compromised the same.

What you want to hear when purchasing these types of deadbolts is the following phrase: integrated with biometric technology. This simply means the deadbolt cannot be opened unless you entered the right passkey or the device has recognized acceptable fingerprints.

A good lock can go a long way, so be sure to talk to your locksmith as soon as you can about how you can further protect your property, family, and yourself.

Of course, keep in mind that securing your door is not only about having the right lock but also having a solid, strong door and good frame. You should also make sure the door jamb is strong enough to reject impact should the burglar attempt a forced entry. Hopefully, you never become the victim of such an entry, but it is always good to be prepared.