Thieves in New Tampa have adopted a “bump and run” strategy to pull off a recent string of burglaries in our area.

Unfortunately, the community has seen a rise in “bump key” burglaries, and April was a busy month for these thieves who use a special to key to enter private residences.

According to the Tampa Police Department (TPD), nine New Tampa residences — eight apartment units in three separate complexes and one private residence — fell victim to “bump key” burglaries throughout April. These complexes include Camden Live Oaks in Tampa Palms, the Enclave Apartments in Richmond Place and the Gardens and Addison Park apartments, both located on Cross Creek Blvd.

Bump keys are special keys that can be purchased online or at home improvement stores, such as Home Depot or Lowe’s. They are sold as alternatives to having to drill through an entire lock should someone be completely locked out of their home or office. Sets of bump keys can be bought fairly cheaply. One website lists a set of 11 bump keys for less than $30.

These keys are inserted into the lock and manipulate the pins. By tapping or “bumping” the key while it is inserted, it will release the lock.

“Bump keys work, but you have to be skilled to use them,” says a local locksmith from Tampa Bay Lock & Key who wished to remain unnamed. “You have to be able to turn the key at the perfect time.”

The locksmith said that the only real countermeasure for bump keys is to buy a “bump-proof” lock, which can be expensive.

“The average person trying to use a bump key would probably make just as much noise breaking a window to get in,” the locksmith says.

TPD recommends that those concerned contact a locksmith. Those with alarm systems are encouraged to use them. No other leads or information was available at our press time.

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