Rob here with Patriot Privacy and the Self-Reliance Institute.
As you get ready to travel this Thanksgiving, I want to bring a news report about how easily crooks can make working copies of your keys to your attention.
How do they do it?
With the camera that’s installed on almost every smartphone.
And, as a former private detective, I can tell you this news report is missing a crucial factor about how easy it is to learn where someone lives. But before I add that twist to the report, let’s look at the problem.
The report, “Camera Phones Copy Keys Easily for Homeowners – and Crooks,” lays out the threat.
“Camera phones and cyberspace are making it easier to make copies of your keys without ever stepping foot inside a hardware store. But as CBS4′s Jennifer Brice reported, the new technology could also make it easier for criminals to break into your home.
“Brice used a cell phone camera to take a snapshot of a co-workers keys. With the co-worker’s permission, she uploaded the photo to an online locksmith called keysduplicated.com. After paying just $6, a functioning house key arrived in the mail just two days later.” [emphasis added]
After discussing the debate as to whether online locksmiths are more or less secure than traditional brick and mortar locksmiths, the report adds a bit of common sense.
“’You need to protect your keys, not leave them out of site for any amount of time,’ said Barry Campbell, Director of Operations of the Society of Professional Locksmiths.
“Security experts urge caution when handing over your keys for auto repairs or to a valet.
“Don’t keep them with other identification which can tie up the connection between the key and the physical address,” said security expert Alan Schissel, who advises detaching your keys from the rest of the ring to avoid becoming a victim.” [emphasis added]
Alright, so that’s the thrust of the threat – it’s easier than ever for a criminal to make a copy of your key(s) with the aid of a smartphone camera and an online locksmith.
But what leaves me dismayed is that in both the video report and the written report the news organization presupposes that a criminal would either need to follow you home or see your license or other identification to determine your home address.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
In fact, all a crook needs to do is follow you as far as your car to obtain your license plate information. From there – just like the online locksmith – there are many online “private investigators” (some reputable, most not) who will provide the street address associated with a license plate registration for a small fee.
So there’s no need for the crook to follow you home. All he has to do is follow you to your car after snapping a shot or two of your key(s).
Bottom line: Keep your keys in your pocket/purse at all times. Don’t (like I often do) lay them on a table or counter while making a purchase.
Be safe, secure and free!
Rob Douglas – Former Washington DC Private Detective
PS: You can always email me at [email protected]
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