KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) - There’s a surge of cyber locksmiths popping up online and in app stores that allow people to copy a key with the snap of camera and get it delivered to their doorstep.
Quite often your keys are out of sight when you visit an oil-change place, drop them with the valet or give them to the carhop at the full-service carwash.
Many might question what is going on when their keys are out of their sight. One possibility is that a copy of their keys could be made in a matter of seconds.
KCTV5 investigative reporter Eric Chaloux decided to put one cyber locksmith to the test to see if a few photographs from a camera phone of a key could actually open a door to a home.
Chaloux walked through the KCTV5 newsroom and saw the keys of his boss, Clare Otto, sitting out on her desk. He quickly snapped a few pictures of a house key and left undetected.
Shortly after the pictures were uploaded to the website keysduplicated.com, Chaloux received an email saying the key could be duplicated.
Remember, the key didn’t belong to Chaloux, but all the site needed were the photos to begin milling process.
“We ask for both sides of the key in part, to make sure the person taking the picture, has enough physical access to the key,” said Ali Rahimi, founder of the San Francisco-based company.
Rahimi said they have that safeguard in place so that someone doesn’t just walk by and snap a photo from a distance of a key.
Rahimi thinks there are too many obstacles for a crook to have to jump through, like using a credit card and entering a billing address, to get a key made on their site.
“If anything bad happens, law enforcement can figure out what happened,” Rahimi said. “The risk is high, you’ll get caught.”
A few days later, the copied key KCTV5 ordered from photos of Otto’s key arrived in a small plain white envelope.
“Here is the key we got,” said Chaloux to his boss, standing by the door of her home. “We took the photos of your keys on your desk, let’s see if it works?”
With a little “jiggling” of the key, Chaloux was able to open the door to her house with the key made online.
“I’m in your house ... what do you think about that?” questioned Chaloux.
“That’s not very good, that’s very distressing,” Otto said.
“You left your keys out,” Chaloux said. “Everybody leaves their keys out ... and two quick little photographs.”
“And you’ve broken into my home,” Otto said.
“Broken into your home for a couple of bucks,” added Chaloux.
Rahimi offered a good piece of advice about always knowing who has your keys or where they are located.
“Treat a key like a personal object, like a credit card. It is a personal piece of information about you,” Rahimi said.
He said the pictures of the key Chaloux used in the test was so common, the code printed on them would allow anyone to write it down and go to a traditional “brick and mortar” locksmith to have the key milled.
“It’s a very dangerous key to walk around with,” Rahimi said.
Copyright 2014 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.