Learn what steps you can take to prevent the 5 most common tactics thieves use to open locks
Ultimately, no lock is immune to the attacks of a thief with the right tools and unlimited, uninterrupted time on their hands. However, in most cases thieves are operating under pressure and under threat of discovery. They’re looking for an easy target that will give high reward with very little risk. Therefore, having strong locks that can withstand the following 5 most common attacks will go a long way towards deterring thieves from attempting to break in to your property.
Bumping is the practice of using a specially made skeleton key, aka bump key, to knock all the pins in a spring-loaded lock into alignment so that the lock can be opened. Some experienced thieves carry around sets of bump keys made from common key blanks so that they can be prepared for whatever brand of spring-loaded lock they may encounter. The best way to fight attacks from bump keys is to install a lock that does not use pins, such as a tumbler lock, a magnetic lock, or an electronic lock.
Another possible way of opening a locked door or cabinet is to simply pry the entire lock assembly out of place. This only works on doors and doorframes that are flimsy or on locks that lack an adequate deadbolt. To fight this attack, ensure you have a quality deadbolt and strikeplate and a solid wood or metal door. Also ensure that the doorframe is bolted into the wall studs.
Smashing the lock itself is a technique most often used on padlocks. To combat this attack, look for padlocks that have laminated rather than solid bodies. A laminated body, which is made from many separate plates of metal riveted together, can absorb stress better because the force gets distributed away from the point of impact.
Another attack you have to worry about with padlocks is cutting. To prevent a thief from cutting through the shackle with a bolt cutter, invest in a padlock that has either a hardened or hidden shackle. Shrouded disc locks are particularly hard to cut.
The final attack to guard against is that of a skilled lockpicker. One option is to get an electronic lock system, although you have to beware of the fact that many of these systems come with an emergency keyhole that could potentially still be picked. Another, simpler option is to make sure you have other security features complementing your lock. For example, you might install motion-triggered lights to prevent a thief from camping out unobserved on your front porch while they pick the lock, or a security alarm to notify the authorities of a break in.