Police Across the Nation Concerned Over Rise in Use of Bump Keys

The keys are increasingly being used in burglaries across the country.

— -- It used to be that only locksmiths used bump keys -– a modified key that can be used to open many kinds of locks –- but now anyone can buy them online, and police are worried because the keys are increasingly being used in burglaries across the country.

In some cases people don't even know they've been burglarized. That’s because bump keys can be used to break into your house without leaving a trace.

"We just couldn't figure it out, then the detective informed us, this lovely bump key," she said.

The suspects in that case were arrested and charged with burglary, but other cases of suspected bump key burglaries have popped up in other parts of the country, including Florida, Texas, Virginia and New Jersey.

A rash of 10 burglaries at an apartment complex in Marlton, New Jersey, in 2014 had investigators stumped until an expert locksmith examined one of the victim's locks.

A suspect has been charged in that case, the outcome of which is still pending.

Using the key effectively doesn't take much skill, only practice. Tapping -- or bumping -- the key while it's inserted into the lock causes the lock pins to jump, and the lock opens when it's turned.

The ease and availability of bump keys prompted David Rible to act.

Rible is a former Wall Township Police Department detective and certified locksmith who is now a New Jersey lawmaker. Earlier this year the state assemblyman introduced legislation that would make it a crime for anyone other than a locksmith to make, buy or own a bump key.

In a controlled environment, Rible demonstrated the ease of opening a door with a bump key for ABC News' Gio Benitez, getting a lock opened in just seconds. "The other point too is, once they're done they lock back up and leave. The homeowner comes home the door is still locked," Rible said.

When Rible successfully opens the lock in seconds, Cathy is shocked.

"I'm not happy because I thought they were good locks," she said. "When we put the door in we wanted really good locks for safety reasons."

After the experiment, "GMA" had a locksmith put bump-proof locks on the couple's home.

Another expert says even good locks can be bumped, which is why he wants a law that would ban the bump key. For now, he recommends investing in a high-quality bump-proof lock, such as several locks made by Medeco and Mul-T-Lock.

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