North Texas police are on alert for a rise in burglaries, thanks to “bump keys,” a new version of the old-fashioned skeleton key that can overcome the locks on almost any door, says the Dallas Morning News. Authorities say the modified versions of ordinary keys first gained popularity in Europe and are spreading rapidly through Internet “how-to” videos that illustrate how easily doors can be opened though “lock bumping.” Any regular key can be cut to its deepest depth to become a bump key, said Roy Yetter of the Texas Locksmiths Association. When a bump key is inserted into a lock and tapped with a mallet, kinetic energy is transferred through the pins in the locking mechanism, causing the pins to momentarily move so the lock can be turned.
More than 90 percent of locks are vulnerable, said one officers. Lewisville police believe “bump keys” were used in more than 20 apartment burglaries during a three-day period in September. At least $75,000 in property was stolen, mostly plasma screen TV, laptop computers, jewelry, and video games. Police say it’s often difficult to be certain that bump keys were used to enter homes or buildings because they leave little or no indication of lock tampering. It’s hard to tell, in many cases, whether a bump key was used or whether the property owner simply left their door unlocked.