A new generation of thieves is bringing back an old technique to break into homes. It's called lock bumping. In a matter of minutes, even seconds, a thief can break in, virtually undetected.
Jeff and Amy Allen of Biloxi say it's something they've never heard of, but now that they know, it's a safety concern the couple says they can't afford to take lightly.
"With my husband working two jobs, my girls and I are here by ourselves at night and somebody could easily break in and who knows what could happen," says Amy Allen.
When it comes to lock bumping, all it takes is a specially cut key, a few taps and a thief could be in your house. David Green of Orange Grove Lock and Key in Gulfport says it could take anywhere from ten minutes to ten seconds to break in someone's home using a bump key.
"He had gotten in there and turned it in one turn. It was shocking to me. I didn't expect it to be that quick," says Allen.
It's a technique police say is new to them, because thieves typically throw bricks through windows or kick down doors during a break-in. Biloxi Police Chief Bruce Dunagan says although he hasn't seen any cases of lock bumping, the public should not disregard the potential threat it could pose to their family's safety.
"Until you brought it up on the telephone the other day I hadn't heard of this. The bad guys know it. I'm sure already, they know how to do it, so the public needs to know they're not that secure in their homes and take this as a learning tool and address their house," says Dunagan.
There are some steps you can take to protect your family.
"The first best protection is an alarm system, second to that is a high security lock," says Green.
Green says high-security locks like Marks USA and Medeco are resistant to bumping and picking. He says the dead bolt and lock cylinder set-up he sells from Marks USA would cost anywhere from 75 to 85 dollars.
With Marks USA locks, the only way you can get a spare key is through the lock smith who sold it to you.
Similarly, with Medeco locks, you have to get extra keys from an authorized Medeco vendor or directly from the company.
People who buy Marks USA locks receive a registration card upon purchase and must present the card to their locksmith to get a spare key.
Green says the average key cutting machine can't duplicate these keys, because they have a special sidebar that has to be in place for the lock to turn.
If you can't afford new locks or a security system, there is cheaper alternative. You can re-pin your locks.
"You can go to a locksmith to re-key the lock with security pins. These security pins will not prevent it, but it will make it harder on somebody trying to get in," says Green.
The pins are shaped like a spool of thread which makes bumping the lock more difficult.Green installed security pins in the Allen's house for now, but Jeff and Amy plan to do more.
"I'm actually going to move up to the security lock that would be my next step and an alarm system isn't far behind," says Allen.
Amy says she would rest a little easier when Jeff goes off to work if they were to invest in high security locks and an alarm system.
"I'd probably sleep better at night not having to worry about every little creek and crack that goes on in the house."
For more information on lock bumping and high security locks, please visit the links we've provided to the left. If you would like to find out more information on security options for your home, please contact a security expert on locks like your local locksmith. David Green of Orange Grove Lock and Key, the locksmith featured in this story can be reached at (228) 324-1735.