Scutari Bill To Increase Burglary Penalties For Illegal Use Of ‘Bump Keys’ Clears Full Senate

TRENTON – A measure sponsored by Senator Nicholas P. Scutari which would create penalties for using a “bump key” – a manufactured or modified key used to pick cylinder locks – to commit a burglary was unanimously approved today by the full Senate.

“Because ‘bump keys’ can open up just about any lock, it makes sense to ensure they don’t end up in the wrong hands,” said Senator Scutari, D-Linden. “Licensed locksmiths, for example, have a legitimate need for tools like this to come to the aid of homeowners who have forgotten or misplaced a house key; thieves do not. This bill would ban the use of these keys for illegal purposes, and send a message to would-be thieves that using them illegally will not be tolerated.”

Senator Scutari’s bill, S-189, would reclassify the manufacturing or possession of a “bump key” with intent to commit a crime as a fourth degree offense, which carries penalties of up to 18 months in prison and fines of up to $10,000. Under current law, the manufacturing and or theft using a “bump key” is classified as a disorderly persons offense, which only carries a fine of $1,000 and up to six months in prison.

Senator Scutari went on to note that the manufacture or use of “bump keys” is illegal only when paired with intent to commit a crime. Locksmiths working on a job would not be in danger of penalty under this legislation.

This measure now heads to the Assembly for consideration.

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