By Sion Barry
Jan 17, 2007
BURGLARS who use a lock-picking method known as "bumping" are going to
find it a lot tougher to break into homes, thanks to an innovative new
product designed by a Welsh inventor.
Much to the concern of police and others, the bumping technique, which
can open common pin-type cylinder locks in seconds, has been described
in detail on one of the most globally popular sites for young people on
With millions of homes fitted with such locks, the information has been
condemned in the national media as "free tips for would-be burglars".
The Master Locksmiths Association said the technique "should not be in
the public domain".
The potential for any thief to gain easy access to households seems
likely to become a growing issue, particularly for accommodation
providers such as local authorities and housing associations, which are
responsible for 6.7 million dwellings in the UK.
However an industrial designer with extensive experience in commercial
product design and project management, both with major door
manufacturers and as a specialist consultant, has come up with a clever
yet simple response to the threat.
Mark Garratt's company, Almore, based in Pontypridd, has perfected
Pickbuster, a special fluid which can be squirted into locks to make it
very difficult for a would-be burglar to "bounce" the pins inside, but
which does not affect normal key operation.
The synthetic, high-tack fluid, specially developed in conjunction with
a German firm, is easy to apply, non-toxic and can withstand extremes of
temperature. It is being made available initially to housing
organisations in aerosol form at 2.70 per lock treatment via
The company is working on a version for individual householders.
One of the main attractions of Pickbuster is it helps housing
authorities fulfil their duty of care to tenants without having to
modify or replace locks or doors - potentially a massive and expensive
Mr Garratt has provided technical services to door makers, to government
purchasing organisations and to police bodies such as Secured By Design,
which advises councils and housing associations on security.
He said "People in the security industry have been aware of the bumping
technique for some time, but now that video footage and instructions
about how to make and use bump keys have been published on the internet,
the danger is it will become mainstream knowledge.
"One of the problems arising when a lock has been bumped open and a
house raided is that insurance companies do not pay out because there is
no evidence of forced entry."
He added, "Pickbuster is like a patch issued by an IT security company
to address a new threat; lock manufacturers, like software protection
companies, make excellent products, but when people start finding ways
around their defences, then a response is called for."
Chris Pankhurst, Almore's client adviser, who worked for 12 years in the
care industry after an RAF career, said, "No system is foolproof, but
few burglars can afford to spend ages trying to bump open a lock treated
"It is very difficult, if not impossible."
Almore is being advised by Entrepreneur Action under the General Support
for Business programme operated by the Welsh Assembly Government's
Department for Enterprise, Innovation and Networks.
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