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MAARSSEN, Netherlands – Hosts of locks with pipe-type keys are unsafe. The master tool is a cheap ballpoint pen. Motorcycle thieves discovered that the material and the shape of the clear plastic housing of, for instance, a BIC Crystal, fits the aperture of, for instance, a € 200 kryptonite lock. Knocking the pen into the […]

MAARSSEN, Netherlands – Hosts of locks with pipe-type keys are unsafe. The master tool is a cheap ballpoint pen. Motorcycle thieves discovered that the material and the shape of the clear plastic housing of, for instance, a BIC Crystal, fits the aperture of, for instance, a € 200 kryptonite lock. Knocking the pen into the cilinder, the material splits and fills the cavities for the key’s ridges. Turn the pen, and the lock opens. The inventors probably have been using their secret for years, but suddenly the knowledge has spread. American websites (have a look at sites like www.spokejunkies.com, www.technologyreview.com, www.bikeforums.net, etc. (most show 20-second Quicktime movies showing how it works) or use your search engine with, for instance, kryptonite+ballpoint as search criterium). For the moment, Kryptonite and BIC take the blame, but a TNO spokesman (twowheeler lock testers for Dutch ART lock certificates) says that all locks with tubular keys, 7-pins and rotating center socket can be opened with ballpoint pens, not necessarily of BIC manufacture. “It’s more than their problem, it also applies to candy automates, office furniture, you name it: dozens of millions of locks will have to be replaced on the shortest possible notice.”(OB)

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