6 Signs Your Locks Have Been Tampered With

One of the things home and business owners are constantly worried about is the security of their property and the safety of the people and objects within the property. Modern locks and security systems have gotten more innovative, but intruders’ methods have advanced with time as well. It’s critical to be extra careful and watch out for the signs that someone has accessed or tried to access your property without your permission. Are your locks malfunctioning or do they appear to be damaged? These could be signs that the locks have been tampered with and danger could be lurking! However, before you call the police to file a complaint and ask a locksmith to do a lock change, you should be sure that these signs indicate tampering and not regular wear and tear. Below, we have compiled a list of some signs that suggest someone tried to tamper with the locks. We’ve also explained what to do next to secure your property from criminal-minded people.

Types of Unauthorized Entry

Not every invader comes with a breaching tool to damage the lock; some use sophisticated means so that there are no signs of tampering. Before learning about the signs of tampered locks, it’s important to understand the types of unauthorized entry methods intruders use to break into properties.
  • Lock Picking

Lock picking is the practice of using tools, such as tension wrenches and picks, to manipulate the internal components of a lock in order to open it without a key. Invaders use this method to open locks on doors, vehicles, safes, and other types of valuable property. Lock picking requires skill and practice, as well as knowledge of the inner workings of locks. Identifying lock picking is not easy since there are no visible signs on the lock’s exterior; which is why most burglars prefer this technique to break into a property.
  • Lock Bumping

Lock bumping involves the use of a special key, called a bump key, to get a lock open. The bump key is made to match the grooves of a standard key, but the cuts on the key are all the same depth. When the bump key is inserted into the lock and tapped with a small tool, such as a screwdriver, it causes the lock’s internal pins to jump up slightly, allowing the lock to turn and open. Identifying the signs of bumping is easier than lock picking, as this technique usually damages the lock pins making the lock unusable.
  • Bypassing

Bypassing a lock involves finding a way around the lock’s security mechanisms without damaging it. This can be done by manipulating the lock’s internal components or using specialized tools to defeat the lock’s security. For example, a lock can be bypassed by using a shim to lift the latch or by using a tool to push the lock’s pins out of the way.
  • Drilling or Force Opening

Drilling is a common technique many burglars use to remove a lock. It works by physically drilling into the lock’s body or mechanism. This method is often used as a last resort and will obviously damage the lock, but it is one of the most effective ways to gain entry into a locked space.
  • Shimming

If there is a gap between the door and frame, burglars often use shimming to break into a building. This method involves using a thin piece of hard plastic or metal, such as a credit card or a piece of aluminum. The piece is slipped between the door and the frame to push the latch or lock mechanism out of the way in order to gain entry.

Signs That Your Locks Have Been Tempered With

Most signs of lock tampering are noticeable, and you can easily determine if someone has tried to open the lock. However, there are some subtle signs that might not be obvious, but still show that someone tried to tamper with the locks. Below we have listed some of these most common signs:

1. Scratches or Marks Around the Lock or Keyhole

If you notice a lot of new scratches or marks around the lock or keyhole, it could be an indication that someone has attempted to pick the lock or force it open. These marks may be caused by the use of tools such as lock picks or screwdrivers. One thing to note here is that normal wear and tear also causes scratches over time, so you need to determine if the marks are due to regular wear or tampering. Pay special attention to the area around the keyhole and look for signs the scratches are fresh, such as paint or metal flakes. Sometimes amateurs leave easily identifiable marks.

2. Visible Bending of Your Lock or Door

The bending of your lock or door can be a sign that someone has attempted to force them open. Visible bending happens when intruders use excessive force to turn the door knob or if they use tools such as a crowbar or hammer to try and break the lock open. The lock or door can also bend when someone attempts to drill out the lock or use a saw to cut through the door. These actions cause severe damage and might weaken the structural integrity of the lock or door, making it easier for intruders to break in. If you notice visible bending of your lock or door, it’s important to have it inspected and repaired by a professional locksmith, like S.E.L Locksmith in Baltimore.

3. Key Not Fitting Properly

On a regular day, your business or house key should easily slide into the lock. If you are suddenly unable to fit the key inside the keyhole, it could be due to lock tampering. When a lock is messed with using techniques like bumping, it might damage the internal components, for example, the lock pins. When you try to insert the key inside the lock, the damaged pins may act as an obstacle. Also, in some cases, there could be parts of tools (used by invaders) stuck inside the keyhole, making it difficult to push and turn the key.

4. The Lock Feels Loose or Wobbly

A lock that is securely installed should feel firm and solid. If the lock feels loose or wobbly, it could be a sign that someone has tampered with it. The loose fit might be caused by invaders attempting to drill out the lock or by the use of tools to try and manipulate the lock mechanism. Is there a wobbly or loose lock on your property? Call 443-987-3051 to speak with an emergency locksmith from S.E.L Locksmith to get the lock fixed and get a key replacement. We are a residential and commercial locksmith that can fix your lock in an emergency situation to ensure your property remains secure at all times.

5. The Locks Aren’t Functioning Properly

Severe damage to the lock can make it unusable, and chances are that you won’t be able to unlock the door without professional help. Though a malfunctioning lock can be due to many reasons, such as age or wear, it usually doesn’t happen all of a sudden. If you are unable to open the lock even after the key turns properly, it indicates that the internal mechanism isn’t working. The lock freezing and getting stuck while latching also shows that someone has tried to tamper with it.

6. Shiny Metal Edges Around the Keyhole

Nowadays, most burglars use advanced techniques to open locks, such as picking, bumping, and bypassing, but some still take the traditional, blunt route, i.e., drilling. When someone tries to drill a lock, it leaves shiny metal edges around the keyhole. You’ll see signs of a drill bit on various parts of the lock, indicating that invaders tried to tamper with the lock.

What to Do If Your Locks Have Been Tempered With

If you have noticed any of the above-mentioned signs on your locks, it’s important to take the right action. A damaged lock isn’t going to secure your property as it should, so you shouldn’t waste any time. Here’s what to do next:
  • Be Wary About Entering Your Home or Business

If you see signs of lock tampering, don’t rush inside the property right away! The intruders might still be inside, and confronting them can be dangerous. If it seems like there was an unsuccessful attempt to tamper with one lock, look for any signs of forced entry elsewhere, such as broken windows or doors that have been pried open.
  • Call 911

Lock tampering could be a case of trespassing, burglary, and other crimes so you should call the police right away. Inform the local police department that your locks have been tampered with and follow their instructions for the next steps.
  • Take Pictures

Taking pictures is essential for a variety of reasons; one being it helps you prove that someone tried to open the locks and access your property. Moreover, pictures will help you with the insurance claim in the event of a burglary.
  • Call a Professional Locksmith to Change Your Locks

A properly-working lock is critical to safeguarding your property from potential threats. When you see signs that any locks have been tampered with, call an emergency locksmith in Baltimore for their excellent locksmith services, and get the locks replaced as soon as possible. A Baltimore locksmith can also recommend some advanced security locks and other measures to keep your property secure at all times. » More: Rekey Or Change Your Lock?

Easy Ways to Prevent Intruders From Breaking Into Your Home or Business

Keeping intruders from breaking into your property can be difficult, but you can ensure your possessions are safe even when you are away by following these tips:
  • Install High-Security Locks

Make sure all doors and windows have strong, secure locks that are difficult to pick or force open.
  • Use a Security System

Install a security system with motion sensors, cameras, and alarms to deter intruders and alert you of any suspicious activity. You can even opt for access control systems or master key systems for added security.
  • Keep Lights On

Keep lights on outside your home or business, especially at night, to deter intruders and make it more difficult for them to hide. Lights may also make it look like someone is home, discouraging intruders from breaking in and causing harm.
  • Keep Valuables Out of Sight

Keep valuables such as jewelry and electronics out of sight and away from windows so they do not tempt robbers.
  • Secure Sliding Doors

Add a security bar or slide lock to sliding doors to prevent them from being easily lifted off their tracks.
  • Maintain Your Locks

Maintaining the locks and other components, such as strike plates, is essential to strengthening the overall security of your doors. Opt for emergency locksmith services whenever you encounter a malfunctioning lock or a damaged strike plate. » More: Why You Should Rekey Your Home

Have Your Locks Been Tampered With? Call S.E.L Locksmith – Baltimore Today!

Finding signs of lock tampering can be stressful and scary, but you don’t have to deal with it all alone! At S.E.L Locksmith – Baltimore, we can replace tampered locks and broken strike plates so your home or business remains safe and secure. We provide comprehensive residential, commercial, auto, and emergency locksmith services. From key duplication so you have a spare key to lock rekeying in case of lost keys, we can tackle all your locksmith needs. Our mobile locksmith teams will usually arrive at your location as quickly as possible so you don’t have to wait to get the locks replaced. We even replace car keys and can make you a new car key right on the road or in a parking lot if someone has tried to force open your vehicle. For more information on our complete locksmith service options, or to schedule an appointment, call or text us at 443-987-3051. Our professional locksmiths are at your disposal when you need us!

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