Thief uses lock bumping technique to force entry through a door lock

What is “Lock Bumping” and How Does a Thief Bump Locks?

Jake Pflaumer National Hardware Expert

Jake Pflaumer
National Hardware Expert

What is Lock Bumping? Bump Key & Lock Picking Prevention

Lock bumping is a low-effort way to open certain cheap commercial locks where a specially designed key, known as a bump key, is inserted quickly and with force repetitively. Certain locks’ pins may—due to the force—jump above their shear line thereby allowing the thief access to the building. With lock bumping, doors that were once considered secure can be breached without the obvious signs of forced entry similar to lock picking.

In general, lock bumping is much easier to perform. If a thief gets their hands on a bump key, it may allow them to get access to any property without sufficient commercial locks to stop them.

As the world grows increasingly aware of bump key threats, it raises the question of lock bumping prevention. Bumping, key bumping, and lock-picking have all been around for a while, but the recent rise in popularity of bump keys and lock jigglers has left many questioning their security.

As a commercial locksmith service company, The Flying Locksmith is dedicated to understanding these intricate details, from the mechanics of pins and lock picks to comprehensive solutions for lock bumping prevention, ensuring that every key turn is a secure one.

The Security Arms Race: Future-Proofing Locks and Security Systems Against Unsophisticated Bypass Methods (Like Lock Bumping)

In the relentless arms race between security advancements and illicit techniques, there's an ever-growing need to anticipate and counteract emerging threats.

But as lock bumping proves—even an idiot can be a burglar. So how do we idiot-proof our businesses?

Here are our good, better, best solutions we recommend daily:

Our “Good” Solution: Picking And Bumping-Proof Cylinders With “Spool Pins”

Have you ever seen those massive wire spools contractors leave as they finish roadwork projects? That’s essentially what a spool pin is. When force is applied, it spins ever so slightly, which causes the spool to fall back below the cylinder’s shear line (the line at which the lock turns)

“Spool pins work in key cylinders by causing those pins to bind when attacked. Spool pins easily defeat picking and bump attacks,” said National Hardware Manager Jake Pflaumer.

The best part? This low-tech method of deterring simple lock bumping is extremely low-cost and can be just as effective as some of the more expensive options.

Our “Better” Solution: Restricted Keyways

Adding onto our last recommendation—restricted keyways should be used whenever possible. “It’s impossible to bump a lock if you can’t even get your bump key in the cylinder,” said Jake.

Restricted keyways work by showing the burglar an extremely unique key pattern. Think of modern car keys for a visual example.

Our recommendation for restricted keyways are Medeco X4. Fun fact: The Flying Locksmiths are among the only nationally recognized Medeco dealers. As a bonus, Medeco X4 cylinders are essentially pick proof and built so solidly that they’re also pretty much impossible to destroy. And they also have spool pins on the inside—so you’re getting two recommendations in one.

Our “Best” Solution to Key Bumping and Lock Picking: Access Control with Medeco X4 Cylinders

Unsurprisingly, our best solution for preventing lock bumping and picking is to use an access control system. CCTV cameras with a security camera system added onto that are also going to be our primary recommendation as an additional deterrent—but ultimately if all you’re trying to do is let the right person in and keep the wrong person out, cameras aren’t an absolute necessity for this solution.

Why access control? Having a card reader on your door will allow us to install an electric strike to further prevent burglar bypass methods. Why? Imagine a metal glove gripped tight on your door throughout the day until someone authorizes entry via a card, phone—etcetera. This is going to help prevent the door from being kicked in or being bypassed through prying or “jimmying”.

With Medeco X4, an electric strike and a card reader—you can be pretty certain whatever you have behind the door you’re intent on protecting is safe.

As we advance into the future, the focus remains on ensuring that every lock installed, every key turned, stands as a formidable barrier against intrusion. With innovation at the forefront, the future of lock security looks promising, built on a foundation that continuously adapts to the changing landscape of potential vulnerabilities.

Unlock a Safer Tomorrow with The Flying Locksmiths

At The Flying Locksmiths, we understand the importance of every key turn. With decades of experience under our belt, our knowledge transcends beyond just traditional locks and keys. We're at the forefront of understanding the latest threats, from bumping to advanced lock picking techniques, and we're always prepared with the right set of lock picks and solutions.

Remember, the key to security isn't just about having the right lock; it's about having the right partner to guide and protect you. As you reflect on this article and consider your security needs, know that The Flying Locksmiths are just a call away. Let us help you turn the key to a safer, more secure future. Ready to update your locks? Contact us.