They say that if a burglar really wants to break into your house he'll find a way. That shouldn't stop us from throwing roadblocks in the way, and we all want to think that our stuff is little bit more secure if we've locked the doors.
In the old days burglars would take a crowbar, wedge it between the door and the jam and pry enough so that the bolt slips out of the jam. But any burglar who has an internet connection or who has spent a little time in a correctional facility will know how to make a bump key.
A bump key is a key made from a blank with some uniform file cuts in it. The burglar simply sticks it into the lock and gives it a good rap with a screw driver handle, and the key opens the lock. You can see it demonstrated at this youtube video, and here's another one with an animation showing what's going on inside the lock.
What's depressing about this is that few lock manufacturers will even acknowledge the problem. Use lock manufacturers' search engines to see what the word "bump" pulls up, and at Schlage and Kwikset there's nothing. They are either oblivious of the problem, or they want to avoid the issue. Which do you think it is?
Of note here is the disclaimer found on the instruction sheet of a Schlage lock which says in all caps:
IN NO EVENT SHALL SCHLAGE BE LIABLE FOR ANY INCIDENTAL OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES ARISING FROM THE SALE OR USE OF THE PRODUCT.
Therefore, if someone bumped open a lock and cleaned out a house then if the homeowner could prove that the lock was bumped he/she might be able to get back the price of the lock.
Contrast that with Medeco which appears to be the only lock manufacturer that has addressed the problem. And they say their locks can't be bumped. Watch their video here. Of course that's just an invitation for people to try, and there's a disagreement now between Medeco and some lock hackers who claim to have bumped open one those locks.
And here's another catch: Medeco locks cost three times the cost of a Schlage or Kwikset. And they are not that readily available. According to their website dealer locator there is only one Medeco dealer within 25 miles of me. And that dealer told me this morning that it would take three or four weeks to get one.
But you know what? Even with all of this high tech lock picking, the old crowbar is still probably a quicker and more reliable illegal entry system.