Urban Legends

Bump Keys

The Legend

Found on the Internet in February 2007

I got this note and saw a film about something scary. It seems that criminals can use master keys and bump them to open anyone's house lock! I also saw this other film where someone got this video tape and on the tape it said that after they watched the tape they would get a phone call and then they would die! Even without a master key!

That's it -- I'm nailing the door shut and never leaving the house again!

Behind the Legend

Bump keys are real things. They are master keys (otherwise known as skeleton keys, 999 keys, or mun keys) that will open any lock when hit rhythmically with a rubber mallet. The rhythm varies by the type of lock (for example, the Bulldog fight song will open a Yale lock), and if a rubber mallet is not handy, the thief may strike the lock with a drumstick or tambourine.

Because of the noise caused by all the bumping and the fact that the slightest error can cause the lock to remain locked, many thieves are giving up on bump keys all together and just using their rubber mallet to break a window.

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