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Picking, Breaking and Bumping Locks: What Are the Differences?

Many homeowners rely on their door locks as one of their main lines of defense in their home security system against intruders. However, with so many new resources available on picking, breaking and lock bumping, it is normal to have questions about your home security system.

This article will walk you through the different ways intruders breach locks, and share top home safety tips on how you can protect yourself against security breaches.

 There are three main ways that intruders can breach your door lock:

  • Lock Picking
  • Lock Breaking
  • Lock Bumping


About Lock Picking

Lock picking is one of the oldest ways intruders break into homes. Using household items or only a few tools, intruders can manipulate the components of a lock to open the lock without a key.  The lock picking tools are able to manipulate the pins within the lock to turn the lock to the open position without damaging the lock or doorframe.

For example, most deadbolts use a cylinder lock of the pin-and-tumbler design. Inside of the cylinder lock is a set of pins, which are arranged in a way that can only be accessed with a key that is cut to fit the pins’ pattern. Lock picking utilizes tools to move the pins into the right pattern in order to unlock the deadbolt.1

However, lock picking is not only for intruders. Many expert locksmiths practice lock picking in order to help homeowners regain entry into their home after they have lost their keys, which grants access without damaging the lock.

Preventing Lock Picking

While there are many measures you can take to prevent lock bumping, no lock is 100% pick proof. To view the different levels of security in deadbolt locks, click here to view the Kwikset Smart Challenge – a professional lock-picking competition highlighting the differences in various deadbolt brands. 

Homeowners can also install multiple locks on their doors to ensure a more tedious process to gain access to their homes. For example, some homeowners install two deadbolts or one deadbolt and a door handle lock to add an extra layer of door security.

About Lock Breaking

Lock breaking is another tactic intruders use to gain access to your home and breach your door lock. Through lock breaking, intruders use a set of tools, such as a screwdriver or hammer, to damage the lock to unlock the door, or use blunt force to damage the lock and entry way of the door to gain access.

This process of lock breaking damages the lock permanently, and requires the homeowner to replace the lock (and possibly doorframe) all together.

Preventing Lock Breaking

Expert locksmiths recommend securing your home with a deadbolt that has been verified as secure by a third-party organization, like the Builders Hardware Manufacturers Association (BHMA), an organization that administers and coordinates the voluntary standardization to develop and maintain performance standards for the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) as well as coordinates third party testing of products to assure compliance with the ANSI test standards. Kwikset’s locks meet ANSI standards, which is among the highest level of residential security.

In addition, many expert locksmiths recommend reinforcing the doorframe to ensure the entry way is sturdy enough to absorb brunt force without permitting access.

About Lock Bumping

Lock bumping is a similar practice to lock picking, except that it uses a “bump key,” which is a special key that can give access to almost any lock it is used on.  Bump keys can be made at home with only a few tools, and used to gain illegal access into homes by intruders. Bump keys are most commonly used on pin-and-tumbler design locks.

Lock bumping does not leave any sign of forced entry or intrusion, and can be effective in breaching door security in more than 90 percent of homes in the U.S. that have a cylinder lock.2

Preventing Lock Bumping

One of the best ways to prevent lock bumping is ensuring your lock has Kwikset’s SmartKey® technology. Kwikset deadbolts with SmartKey® technology also have BumpGuard™ features, which includes a patented side-locking bar – instead of a traditional pin and tumbler design – that make it impossible to bump. There are a variety of SmartKey® enabled lock options, including those that use a traditional key, key pad, key fob, or Bluetooth technology to open with your smartphone.

Learn more about lock bumping and locks to protect against it here.

With these home safety tips, you can make a more informed decision on your home security system and help improve your door security.

Resources

1 Brain, Marshall, and Tom Harris.  "How Lock Picking Works"  09 April 2001.  HowStuffWorks.com. <http://home.howstuffworks.com/home-improvement/household-safety/security/lock-picking.htm> 09 December 2013.

2 “Public Service Site about Lock Bumping.” 2013. LockBumping.org. s<http://www.lockbumping.org> 09 December 2013.