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'Lock bumping' trend raises concern about ease of home burglaries

Thursday - 8/22/2013, 5:35am  ET

lock
Doorknobs and locks on display in the showroom at Liberty Lock & Security in Rockville, Md. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
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WASHINGTON - A method robbers can use to open a locked door is getting a lot of attention online -- it's called "lock bumping."

In a nutshell, lock bumping involves making a specially cut key, inserting it into a lock and then hitting it until it can be turned, opening the door. WTOP spoke with a locksmith to find out if it's something homeowners need to worry about.

"It's a form of lock defeat that's been used in the industry as long as we've been picking locks, the conventional locks and keys that people are familiar with anyway," Dan Stubbs, director of operations at Liberty Lock & Security in Rockville, Md., tells WTOP.

Stubbs says to pull it off, a would-be thief would need to do advanced planning and have the right materials.

"It's utilizing a key that is cut a certain way that first of all has to fit into the lock. So, whoever is going to do this has to have access to the key blanks that matches the lock that's going to be attacked. They have to have access to the machinery to make the key in this fashion," he says.

In general, Stubbs says he does not think lock bumping is a big concern.

"The random household burglar that's just out there looking for 'smash and grab' isn't going to use this method. It's more than likely just faster to kick the door, grab what you need and run, and that happens a lot. That's the predominant burglary method that's being used," Stubbs says.

He says the best defense against a door-kick is a high quality deadbolt.

"In most cases, you get what you pay for," Stubbs says.

If you're still worried about lock bumping, you can take extra steps to protect your home.

"There are locks that are designed to prevent it. Any lock that utilizes a dual-locking technology," says Stubbs.

For those who are planning Labor Day getaways, Stubbs has some home security tips.

"Keep the bushes trimmed, have lights that turn off and on at different times, have somebody picking up the mail and the newspaper if there's still one there. Trusted neighbors keeping an eye on things -- that's the best scenario," he says. "If there's an extra car available, have somebody move it once or twice if you're gone for a week. Just make the house look like it's occupied somehow."

For those still concerned about lock bumping, Kwikset has some advice to keeping homes protected.

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