After locking the door, you think that you are safe. But are you really? Here comes the issue, lock bumping. Nowadays lock bumping has become a great concern for all of us. It has threatened our security and made the use of pin tumbler locks doubtable.
Thieves use 999 key to bump the lock. So you should know about 999 keys and lock bumping. Today we will understand what 999 key and all about it is. Let’s go down there.
In recent days, key bumping is happening very frequently all over the world. And the most irritating thing is, it does not leave any clue of picking the lock. And that is why you will not get any funds from insurance companies because of a lack of proper proof.
A 999 key is a key of a special cut that is used to bump the lock. It is also known as a bump key. It works in pin and tumbler locks. Generally, the notches of a key are of different heights. But all the ridges of 999 key is of the same height.
All the notches are cut to the maximum depth. And the number 999 is used to symbolize this. But depending on the link the length of the key may vary.
How Is A 999 Key Made?
Different companies have different standards for the heights of the pins. The ridges of 999 keys are cut to the lowest height. You can make it using a key-making machine. The process will take only 4 to 6 minutes. So it is easy to make, and that is why it has spread to all thieves. About 95 per cent of pin and tumbler locks are venerable to lock bumping.
Lock bumping is a technique for lock picking. It is mainly applied for pin and tumbler locks. Intruders use a bump key or a pick gun to bump the lock. Professional locksmiths use this technique to open collapsed locks. So this technique has both kinds of applications, good and bad. Not you should know it for good reasons.
How Do 999/Bump Keys Work?
To understand how bump keys work, you first need to visualize how typical keys work.
Keys operate by aligning small spring-loaded pins inside the lock. Most door locks are pin and tumbler locks, which are spring-loaded. The stack of pins keeps the cylinder of the lock from being turned without using the proper key. A typical pin and tumbler lock has two sets of pins: the driver pins and the key pins.
Each pin stack within the lock is occupied by one driver pin and a key pin – both pressed tightly against one another by the small spring attached to the pin. The point at which the set of pins meets is different for each pin stack. This is why a key is cut at different depths to fit into this intentional misalignment.
Once the correct key is inserted, each pin stack’s meeting points align, creating a shear line. Once it forms a shear line, the cylinder will turn, and the door can be unlocked.
A bump key is cut in a way that will not properly align with the pins but will disrupt them when an object like a screwdriver or a small hammer strikes it. Using the physics principle “Newton’s cradle, the energy produced from hitting the bump key is transferred to the pins inside the lock, causing them to jump and create a temporary shear line. It allows just enough time for the user to quickly turn the lock and open the door.
Bump keys work in two methods, such as:
1. Pull-back – The pull-back method is the most common when using a bump key. With this method, the key is inserted all the way in and then pulled back out one notch. The key is bumped into the keyway while keeping rotational pressure using the heel of the hand or with a device of some sort.
In this method, you need to bump the key just enough to jar the pins but not so much that the key or lock gets damaged. Bumping the key can cause the pins to jump slightly, and even this slight amount of motion is enough to let the bump key turn the cylinder and unlock the lock.
2. Minimal movement – This method is slightly more sophisticated than the pull-back. To improve bump key performance, file away an additional 0.25 to 0.5 mm from the key tip and shoulder so that the key will be inserted slightly farther into the lock.
How Effective are Bump Keys?
When it’s executed properly, lock bumping is effective in more than 90% of all cylinder-type locks. How successful key bumping is depended on practice. The learning curve is short, and very little skill is required, but success will vary depending on the type of lock and quality of the key.
Keys that are very cheaply made and made from soft metal won’t last long. Bumping, especially the pull-back method, works better on more expensive locks since the hard and high-quality parts work more smoothly. Bump keys will sometimes deform when they are hit, causing them to jam the keyway. These keys can be hard to remove.
How Can You Tell if a Lock Has Been Bumped?
Bump keys pose a concern regarding safety and security. One of its most disconcerting aspects is that it can go undetected, which means a house can be broken into without any sign of forced entry.
However, you can sometimes spot if a lock has been opened with a bump key. If you see a small indentation right above the keyway, it’s a sign. But remember, some softer and older locks will have dents even though it has not been bumped because of wear and tear.
However, there are bump keys that don’t leave indentations. You may be able to tell if a lock has been bumped, but don’t count on it.
Are Bump Keys Legal?
Owning or possessing a bump key is currently not illegal. In the US, most states consider them legal unless you have criminal intent. There’s some grey area here, such as some states considering the mere possession of it as criminal intent. Bump key sets and videos on how to use them are available online.
There are two states you need to be aware of, however: Tennessee and Illinois.
In Tennessee, all lock-picking tools are illegal unless owned and properly licensed by a locksmith. This includes bump keys. But in Illinois, the rules are a little gray. The state allows you to own and possess lock-picking tools as long as you don’t have any criminal intent. But bump keys are illegal in Illinois unless you’re a licensed locksmith.
Like in other states, if you are found to be in possession of lock-picking tools while committing a crime, like bump keys, these tools can be used as evidence to increase charges against you.
How to Prevent Lock Bumping?
As mentioned earlier, the majority of locks that use a key and the pin-and-tumbler system are vulnerable to bumping. There are no standards that exist to demonstrate resistance to bumping. And the resistance to bumping deadbolt locksets varies by manufacturer. If you go the electronic route, electronic rocks also have a vulnerable key override.
Bump-proof rocks are expensive and rare, but bump-resistant locks are more common. Some lockset manufacturers include bump-resistant features in their newer lock offerings.
But if you don’t want to buy a new bump-resistant lock, you have two options. First, you can get a locksmith to replace the original lock pins with mushroom pins (sometimes referred to as spool pins). These pins can improve the resistance of the lock, but they won’t make it totally bump-proof.
Another option is to get bump-proof lock cylinders installed in your lock system. Medeco makes high-end locks and provides bump-proof lock cylinders. These start at around $100, though their less expensive cylinders may not be bump-proof.
Will Insurance Cover Bump-Key Theft?
If a burglar entered your home using a bump key, the intrusion or theft may or may not be covered by insurance, depending on how the policy is written. The theft may not be covered if the insurance policy requires proof of forced entry. If you want to be sure, consult your insurance agent with questions like these.
Though bump keys have been around for more than 50 years, more people are aware of their existence now because of the Internet. Consumers must also be aware of this potential danger to home security. Also, if you’re a home inspector, you should warn clients to ensure their door locks are sufficiently secured to prevent forced and unauthorized entry by someone using a 999/bump key.
Bump keys are of great use in a locksmith, but bad guys use this for their evil purposes. There are some websites and YouTube channels about lock bumping. So it becomes easier to learn it and spreading vastly. So it is needed to know about its vulnerability.
Now you know what 999 key is and how does it work. So you can use it in need. And take proper steps to prevent lock bumping. Be safe and stay secure!