What I'm Seeing Now

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Have Bump Keys Arrived In Your Area?

Have bump keys arrived in your area?

What are "Bump Keys?"  Have you heard of them?

Bump keys are an easy, Internet-available way for non-locksmiths to get into your home.  Or most any home. And they are proliferating.

Where are they coming from and how are they proliferating?  The photo to the right is of a set of bump keys.

Notice two things - they all seem to be cut with the same pattern.  They are.  And the silver key on the right is stamped "Mexico."  These keys are all "Made in Mexico."  These keys typically come from Central America and are used in untoward ways.  An American locksmith will have his own set, but will not cut a set for you.  They are a real problem in my area - metro Washington D.C.  They might be in use in your area too - right now!

The police say to watch out!

The keys on the right are patterned to fit various locks.  American door knobs, the ones on the front doors of most American houses, usually come in one of three patterns.  The keys in the photo fit a dozen.  The key, and another small tool, allows these locks to be "bumped" and opened.  There is NO evidence of a break in.  Detectives have used these for years!

How is it done?  Burglars and thieves are very good at watching neighborhoods.  They search for patterns of behavior and schedules.  It is easy to determine when someone is not home just by vigilant observation.  A van pulls into the driveway and backs up to the garage.  The van is clearly labeled, "________ Cleaning Service," or "________ Painting Company."  What neighbor watching out the window would question that?  They get out, go to the front door, and appear to go right in.  Obvious to the neighbor is that they have been given a key.

They have not!  A practiced bumper can get in with the first or second try, within seconds.  To anyone watching, it is a fluid and easy motion.  They are in.  What are they interested in?  Anything quick and easy, money or jewelry sitting around, but mostly your hard drive.  Within a couple of minutes your computer is out the garage door, wrapped in a drop cloth or whatever, and into the van.  There is someone there ready to forensically dissect your computer.  They want credit card information, bank accounts, you name it.  Once the credit card number, and password, or pin number, or 3-digit code on the back is obtained, they return the computer.  If they know you will be back soon they may take it altogether.  Mostly, it is returned to its place and they leave with no evidence they have been inside. The best bumps are those where you, or the police, have no idea someone has been inside.  Nothing has been stolen!

Within one hour your credit card information has been converted into a pirated card and is used on the street in Bangkok, Paris, Bogotá, Beverly Hills - wherever!  Or an ATM card, and your bank account is drained.  Or both.

YOUR IDENTITY IS COMPROMISED!  Good luck with that...

My Recommendation:  Call your local police department and ask if they suspect such keys are in use in your area.  Call a locksmith and ask his recommendations.  There are many.  On my house I have installed Medeco locks.  They cannot be bumped.  They are not cheap, but worth it.  The keys cannot be copied if lost.  The key pattern is registered to me, and to have a new key cut I need to identify myself with photo ID.  Of course I can take the locks with me should I move.  Those locks, and a good security system, protect me and my family, especially when we are away.

Look into it!  This problem is getting worse and fast.

 

 

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560

www.jaymarinspect.com


Comment balloon 40 commentsJay Markanich • February 02 2019 12:28PM

Comments

Keyless entry in many homes. Oops, what is that combination again?

Some is operated with a fob and smart phone. 

Posted by Sam Shueh, mba, cdpe, reopro, pe ( (408) 425-1601) 3 months ago

Good morning Jay. Will people stoop no lower? Theses guys have talents allowing them to make a good honest living. Enjoy your day!

Carol Williams this is a nominee!

Posted by Wayne Martin, Real Estate Broker - Retired (Wayne M Martin) 3 months ago

Good morning, Jay Markanich when you think you've heard it all, there's always more coming.... 

Posted by Barbara Todaro, Marketing Agent for The Todaro Team (RE/MAX Executive Realty ) 3 months ago

I rarely see keyless entries, Sam.  But know they are out there!  And they are exceptionally easy to pick.

Wayne - most people who take from others have smarts and talent.  They choose the lower brow, easy life, until, that is, they get caught.

Barbara - these keys have been in our area for about 18 years.  And proliferating.  See my post on preventing burglaries and which keys to use.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) 3 months ago

Hi Jay,
I had no idea. Thanks for the heads up.  I will ask my favorite locksmith about this.  

Posted by Carol Williams, Retired Agent / Broker / Property Manager (Although I'm retired, I love sharing my knowledge and learning from other real estate industry professionals.) 3 months ago

Good morning Jay. I have heard about these. It is scary for sure. Thanks for the reminder.

Posted by Sheila Anderson, The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133 (Referral Group Incorporated) 3 months ago

Hmmm...not anything we have heard of here...I think I feel a reblog coming on...and a call to the cop shop !

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) 3 months ago

Oh wow, Jay. I'd not even heard of these. Great information to have. We have a proliferation these days of coded locks so no keys needed.

Posted by Nina Hollander, Your Charlotte/Ballantyne/Waxhaw/Fort Mill Realtor (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage ) 3 months ago

Good morning,  Jay - a word to the wise (or maybe a word to the too trusting).   Knowing your neighbors helps but unfortunately it's much more than that. 

Posted by Michael Jacobs, Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393 3 months ago

Thank you very much, Jay, for sharing this information.

I have shared your blog on Facebook and will schedule an April reblog.

Posted by Roy Kelley (Realty Group Referrals) 3 months ago

Hi Jay- I'm familiar with them but had not thought of them in a while. We just moved into a home and I'm looking at the locks we have!

Posted by Kathy Streib, Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224 (Room Service Home Staging) 3 months ago

Carol - I had a similar post 10 years ago.  But it was time for a new one!

Sheila - see comment above!  But they are worse now, at least around here, and getting to be more and more of a problem.

S&D - they have been out for a long time.  It might be your police have not had cause to warn about them in your area.

Nina - coded locks (and electronic locks) are easily compromised.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) 3 months ago

Michael - I happen to be the repository for many of my neighbors' keys, interestingly.  But I am not walking around checking houses unless asked.

Thanks Roy.  This is good info to get out there.

Kathy - go with good ones!  I like Medeco.   This blog might help you:

https://activerain.com/blogsview/2510170/be-burglar-blockers---what-to-do-when-you-first-move-into-a-house

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) 3 months ago

                       

                                 Thank you Jay. 

Posted by Kathy Streib, Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224 (Room Service Home Staging) 3 months ago

Aw shucks!  And ain't that a cute new design!  It's good to see someone still using incandescents, Kathy!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) 3 months ago

I have been aware of this for some time and we are using the more protective locks in new construction.

Posted by Joe Pryor, REALTOR® - Oklahoma Investment Properties (The Virtual Real Estate Team) 3 months ago

Jay, this is EXCELLENT! And you offer a viable solution. We are not in an urban area, but a very rural one. Most of us don't even lock our doors. We DO pay attention to who is in our driveway, tho. And to animals roaming about that we don't recognize, and since it's one way in and one way out, we don't get much crime. 

Posted by Gayle Rich-Boxman Fishhawk Lake Real Estate, "Your Local Expert!" 503-755-2905 (John L Scott Market Center) 3 months ago

Good Lord, Jay. What the heck? There's always something, right? Thanks for the heads up.  ( Laughing at your incandescents remark to Kathy) 

Posted by Debb Janes EcoBroker and Bernie Stea JD, REALTORS® in Clark County, WA (ViewHomes of Clark County - Nature As Neighbors) 3 months ago

Good job, Joe.  My anti-bump locks, Medeco locks, were really expensive!

We lock everything, Gayle, especially at night.  We are inundated with illegals who are just looking for whatever they can take.

Thanks Debb.  I know, what the heck!?  When they "banned" incandescents I went out and bought a boatload, not because I wanted them, but because I couldn't stand the ban!  I'm a Son of the American Revolution and it's in my blood to rebel.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) 3 months ago

Another thing to be aware of (and prepare for). I had not heard of this - thank you for the warning.

Posted by Kat Palmiotti, The House Kat (Grand Lux Realty, Monroe NY, 914-419-0270, kat@thehousekat.com) 3 months ago

Kathy - yeah, but Lenn never used them!

Kat - unfortunately they have been around a long time.  And getting more prevalent.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) 3 months ago

Excellent information, I called our local police department, they had heard of them, not in big use in our area, but in Philadelphia yes,and if they are being used there only a matter of time as they said before we see them being used here. Thanks, and I re-posted the article with a local twist.

Posted by Nick Vandekar, 610-203-4543, Tredyffrin Easttown Realtor, Philly Main Line (Long & Foster Real Estate Inc 610-225-7400) 3 months ago

Thanks Nick.  Soon they will be everywhere.  They seem to be moving north from the south.  In my area, a long time, almost 20 years.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) 3 months ago

One more thing to terrify me. It's such a horrible feeling to have your home invaded like this. 

I usually hide my laptop when we are going to be away for more than the day, and I'm not taking it with me. My husband thinks I'm paranoid. I believe you can't be too careful.

Posted by Sharon Tara, New Hampshire Home Stager (Sharon Tara Transformations) 3 months ago

Sharon - may I say HA!?  We put our laptops in the gun safe.  It weighs 1600 pounds and impenetrable, so they won't be going anywhere.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) 3 months ago

Jay Markanich

 Oh WOW is my reaction. Had not heard of this kind of stealing but it makes sense...since nothing was stolen.  Not sure if this is a good thing to warn about or will it just give the bad guys more ideas. 

I have a new door and locks...will be checking it in seconds.

Thanks for teaching me something new.

Posted by Margaret Rome, Baltimore Maryland, Sell Your Home With Margaret Rome ( HomeRome Realty 410-530-2400) 3 months ago

Yes, we've seen these for a few years here in Charlotte - especially with the builders - one key fits all of their door locks, Jay. It's scary to me - I'd also be worried about insurance not paying for theft since there was technically no 'breaking and entering' reported.

Posted by Debe Maxwell, CRS, Charlotte Homes for Sale - Charlotte Neighborhoods (www.iCharlotteHomes.com | The Maxwell House Group | RE/MAX Executive | (704) 491-3310) 3 months ago

Margaret - make no mistake, if there is a valuable something available or easy to steal - money or jewelry - they will!  But quick in and out is the goal.

Debe - the builder locks and keys are different as when the buyer moves in and uses their own key the pins inside the lock change to only fit the new homeowner's key.  But still, most any lock can be bumped if one is not careful.

 

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) 3 months ago

Jay I missed this sadly  I have never heard of it and to boot, how easy is this to do...a bit scary... BTW thanks to a reblog from our friend Nick Vandekar, 610-203-4543  I am here, Endre

Posted by Endre Barath, Jr., Realtor - Los Angeles Home Sales 310.486.1002 (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices) 3 months ago

Endre - I'm shocked, shocked I tell you, you did not see this the second I posted it!  It is easy.  A little practice and most things become easier.  If on'e objective is to snake others, practice makes perfect.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) 3 months ago

I came over from Carol Williams Second Chance Saturday post. This is very timely information for me since I was planning to replace our locks with Schlage. I like the fact that the keys cannot be duplicated by anyone but you, another layer of security.

Posted by Diana Zaccaro, "The Accidental Blogger" Cocoa Beach, Florida (Tropical Beachside brokered by eXp) 2 months ago

I'm glad you did Diana, but seriously embarrassed for you that you did not see the original post!  He says with a wink.

Schlage does make a bump proof lock, but it is a key pad I think, which are demonstrated to be pickable.

Thanks for stopping by!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) 2 months ago

I have not seen them here, YET. What is your opinion of electronic locks with key pads? There are a lot of the on VBRO beach houses!

Posted by Tom Bailey (Margaret Rudd & Associates Inc.) 2 months ago

They have been picked by electronic experts, Tom, but generally they are very safe.  Most schmuck burglars are not electronic experts!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) 2 months ago

Jay, they have been in use in our area for quite a while. It takes about 3 seconds to bump a lock. When they became previlent in this area, we changed out locks to double-deadbolts. They also seem to be much more difficult to bump. A typical lockset is a breeze.

Posted by Mike Cooper, GRI, Your Neighborhood Real Estate Sales Pro (Cornerstone Business Group Inc) 2 months ago

They are Mike.  I have a set with many different lock patterns.  And one gets better at bumping with time!  You may read into that...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) 2 months ago

Hi Jay

Thanks for the warning...I had heard the term "bumping" but wasn't really clear on what it was. Pretty scary. I'll have to check with the local police to see what they have to say!

Jeff

 

Posted by Jeff Dowler, CRS, The Southern California Relocation Dude (Solutions Real Estate ) 2 months ago

It would be interesting to hear what they have to say,  Jeff.  Yours is an area full of people from south of the border.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) 2 months ago

I just heard about these keys recently, Jay. I sure could have used one at age 16 when the doors were locked, I had no key, and I had to sneak back into the house. But that's about as nefarious as I get.

Posted by Gwen Banta (Sotheby's International Realty) about 2 months ago

Gwen - ha!  Once I had to sneak back in, but I snuck out only once.  The experience soured me on sneaking out.  I left the basement door open for myself.  But then I had to sneak past my mother's bedroom, and up the stairs, only to get dressed and come right back down to deliver papers.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 2 months ago

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