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

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 Senate Law and Public Safety Committee.

“By and large, ‘bump keys’ are used by locksmiths to open broken doors and to aid homeowners who have simply forgotten or misplaced a house key,” said Senator Scutari, D-Linden. “Unfortunately, because these keys can open just about any lock, when put into the wrong hands, they can spell disaster for the security of homeowners and their possessions. This bill sends a clear message to would-be thieves that the use of these tools for unlawful purposes 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 full Senate for consideration.

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