Changing door locks after burglary

April 25, 2011

How to address after-hours burglary.

Q: My office on the upper floor of a medical office building was burgled last weekend. I suspect the janitor or one of my staff did it because there was no forced entry, so a key must have been used. I have reported this incident to the building manager and police, who have done nothing except tell me to change keys. How do I confront the suspects?

A: First, make an accurate diagnosis of the problem. A key is not necessary to open most locks. Many nondeadbolt locks can be opened with a butter knife or automotive "slim-jim" if you know how, leaving little to no trace. In addition, "lock bumping" is a newer, very easy lock-picking technique for opening a door lock using a specially crafted "bump key" readily available from suppliers on the Web or made at home following YouTube video guidelines. Bump keys also leave no trace. Consumer Reports has a good report on this topic that reads "business complexes that utilize one standard lock brand and model face a high risk of having their locks compromised." A quick look around your building may find that all the locks on the building offices are the same brand and model as specified by the original architect or building manager, so the list of suspects is now much wider than the janitor and staff. I'd suggest that "confronting the current suspects" is of no value.

First, convert to better, "bump key" and "slim-jim" -proof locks, those of a different brand and model than in the rest of the building's offices. Read a good article on the topic at http://stadium.weblogsinc.com/engadget/videos/lockdown/bumping_040206.pdf, go to http://ConsumerReports.com and search "bump keys" for more info, or call a good locksmith to do a more extensive security audit and lock/strike upgrade to your office. That locksmith might find other security weaknesses needing attention, such as windows and ceiling crawlspace service accesses.

Send your practice management questions to medec@advanstar.com
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