Special Assignment: Lock-Bumping

A few taps with a screwdriver on the specially cut key...
A few taps with a screwdriver on the specially cut key...
...and the lock easily opens.
...and the lock easily opens.

Are you locked in your house, safe and sound? WTOC has uncovered a dangerous new technique making it easy for thieves to get into your house.

Lock experts call it lock bumping.

We debate all the time at WTOC what we should and should not show viewers. Do the bad guys already know about lock bumping? We won't show how the special keys are made, but we will make you aware and show you how to protect yourself before it happens.

Cyndi Sinclair of Memphis, Tennessee, has a 1-year-old son. She wants her home to be safe.

"It was certainly important before, but now that we have a baby, it's all that I think about it," Cyndi said. "I just want to make sure that he's okay."

Cyndi was shocked by this story. "I think that's pretty scary that someone could break into our house," Cyndi said

It's called lock bumping. Safety experts say this technique works on more than 90 percent of homes.

"The good guys need to know what to watch out for," locksmith Glen Peifer said. "The bad guys are going to find out what to do. So why should the public not know what's happening?"

The trick? A special series of cuts on a regular house key, and a tap, or a series of taps will do the trick.

Peifer demonstrated with a key he cut. It did not fit the lock and would not turn the bolt. Then he tapped several times on the key in the lock, easily opened.

It's called bumping. Peifer says it's so easy anyone can do it. Even a 10-year-old.

The digital underworld is abuzz about this new threat, and safety experts say it's time to key in. Lock bumping how-tos are popping up on the internet daily, so we decided it was time to find solutions.

There are some things you can do. Peifer says alarms and pets are good deterrents. Lighting around your house helps too. But, he says the best thing you can do is spend a little money on better locks. Locks by Medeco and Schlage Primus can't be bumped. They're more expensive, but they'll do the trick.

"When you're trying to put a value on your property, that's easy enough to do," Peifer said. "But how do you put a value on your personal safety? You can't put a price tag on that. How can you afford not to have a lock that you can't pick in this way, that you can't use a bump key on?"

You may have noticed, we did not show you how to make a bump key, but, WTOC felt it would be irresponsible not to show you how to better protect yourself from a problem which is becoming more common.

So, is it a problem in Savannah? And what do Savannah-Chatham police think of lock-bumping? We'll have the answers and more solutions to protect your home and your family Tuesday night in a WTOC Special Assignment on THE  News at 11.

Reported by: Don Logana, dlogana@wtoc.com, and WMC-TV Memphis, www.wmctv.com