What is Lock Bumping? Break-In Prevention & Apartment Security Tips!

Coming home to a ransacked house is a terrifying experience. Over 3 million households suffer a home burglary every year. In addition, the chances of victimization increase when residing in multi-family living quarters, such as apartment buildings. 1   2

At LaForce, we have years of experience with multifamily housing structures such as apartment complexes, high-rise apartment buildings, and condominiums. Safety and security are primary concerns for both owners and residents – so, how can users decrease their chances of a household burglary?

Rick Patenaude, a locksmith on LaForce’s Installation team with 27 years of experience, explains one method that burglars use to break into locked apartment doors – lock bumping – and how to prevent it. We also list measures that owners, building managers, and residents can take to maximize their security and safety.

What is Lock Bumping?

Lock bumping is a lock picking technique that utilizes a generic “bump key” to force open a pin tumbler lock. The lock picker inserts the bump key into the lock and strikes it with a hard object like a screwdriver, causing the door to unlock.

Preventing Lock Bumping

The best way to prevent lock bumping is to upgrade the building’s locks. For a resident’s unit entry door, Rick recommends a high-security deadbolt or auxiliary lockset. LaForce commonly supplies a number of reliable brands – contact us for a quote! Overall, less expensive, residential-grade locks are easier to bump open, so invest in the highest quality lock within budget.

Apartment Building Design and Maintenance to Enhance Security

A savvy burglar will target poorly secured multifamily complexes for convenience, ease of entry, and access to a large number of units. So how can facility owners and managers design and maintain apartments and condominiums to reduce risk?

In the initial design phase, buildings should be built with several layers of access. For example, one main entrance that leads to a common reception area drastically reduces the rates of burglary. A U.S. Justice Department report notes that households with restricted access and indirect outside access experience lower rates of attempted burglaries. In addition, exterior doors should be visible to the rest of the neighborhood, and not hidden from public view. Parking areas should also be situated so that multiple windows overlook the area.

Other tips that building managers can use to lower break-in attempts:

  • Avoid landscaping that creates blind spots
  • Invest in good interior and exterior lighting
  • Maintain common areas to demonstrate care and commitment
  • Design common building entrances to automatically lock
  • Limit access to the building to 1-2 access points
  • Install security cameras and/or an electronic access control system, for maximum safety

Apartment Resident Actions to Boost Safety

Residents living in a multifamily complex can take additional measures to maximize safety and security:

  • Become friends with neighbors, increasing the chances that people will watch out for others, and suspicious strangers in the complex will be easier to spot.
  • Talk to the landlord about using a high-security, commercial grade lock with an integrated deadbolt feature, and/or a having security system installed.
  • Review key policies with your building manager to spot lapses or inadequacies.
  • Ensure common areas are well-maintained and well-lit.
Burglary by housing type: The U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics compiles household burglary rates by “number of units in the structure.” Single-unit residential homes experience 28.4 burglaries for every 1,000 households (2.84%) while structures with more than one unit tend to suffer from a higher percentage of attempted and completed burglaries (2.97 to 4.18%). Burglary rates decrease to 2.51% when the building structure has 10+ units. (Graph)
Definition of Burglary (U.S. Department of Justice) “Burglary is defined as unlawful or forcible entry or attempted entry of a residence. This crime usually, but not always, involves theft. The illegal entry may be by force, such as breaking a window or slashing a screen, or may be without force by entering through an unlocked door or an open window. As long as the person entering has no legal right to be present in the structure a burglary has occurred. Furthermore, the structure need not be the house itself for a burglary to take place; illegal entry of a garage, shed, or any other structure on the premises also constitutes household burglary. If breaking and entering occurs in a hotel or vacation residence, it is still classified as a burglary for the household whose member or members were staying there at the time the entry occurred.”

7 thoughts on “What is Lock Bumping? Break-In Prevention & Apartment Security Tips!

  1. Keeping house from any theft is very important and these Tips are really very Interesting and good regarding the security of the house. Good job by the writer.

  2. I have never heard of lock bumping before! It is crazy how burglars can use a generic key to open your pin tumbler-style locks by force. Your advice to install a commercial-grade lock is smart. I should reevaluate the security of my doors and see if I need to upgrade so that no one can force their way into my house.

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