Myths and Facts About DO NOT DUPLICATE Keys: Key Control
By: Rob Reynolds, CPL, CPS, CAL
(May 15, 2012) Unauthorized key duplication is one of the most violated security procedures in business. Most people seeking to copy a key meet little resistance getting duplicate keys cut. The fact is that nearly any standard key can, and will be duplicated with no questions asked regardless of any stamping on the key. Stamping such as “Do Not Duplicate” or “Restricted”, etc is not only often ignored but the key cutter may take it as a personal challenge and reply ‘Oh I can duplicate that’!
One source cites that nearly 40% of non-forced entry break-ins are a direct result of an unauthorized duplicate key (Assa Abloy 2011). These unauthorized keys can then be associated with billions of dollars of loss to business a year!
If you provide security and life safety services here are some things you should know to help your clients understand their total security picture when it comes to key duplication:
Myth: Keys stamped “Do Not Duplicate” are protected by law.
Fact: Most keys that are stamped “Do Not Duplicate” do little more than discourage key cutters from duplicating keys. There is typically little or no legal connection or consequence. Companies offering restricted keys mean that locksmiths or key cutters are not allowed to duplicate them.
Myth: Most companies offer “Restricted” keys.
Fact: This term really only refers to that company’s distribution policy on the key and has nothing to do with duplication rights. Most restricted keys are easily duplicated.
Myth: Keys for all “high-security cylinders” are protected from unauthorized duplication. Only the key blank can be protected from unauthorized manufacturing, and then only if the key blank itself is patented.
Fact: Purchasers of “high-security” keys and cylinders should ask to see proof of patent on the key blank and not the cylinder that it operates.
Myth: Most key cutters will ask questions about your key and will normally comply with any warning or request not to duplicate that key.
Fact: Only professional locksmiths will honor such requests if they are familiar with the manufacturer. Non-professional key cutters such as hardware stores, shops or mall vendors will usually duplicate any key if the key blank is available to them.
What does this mean to me as a life safety professional?
1. In developing a full security plan for your client, bring up the issue of “Restricted Keys”. By helping educate the client early on in the security development process, you can save them great deal of money by getting the proper locking hardware rather than forcing them to decide to change their hardware later on.
2. Ask what their current policy is on key distribution. If they only use keys with “Do Not Duplicate” stamped on them, then let them know that is NOT an effective means of implementing key control.
3. Which system is the best? There are a number of great key systems that restrict duplication effectively, team up with a licensed locksmith in your area to explore some of the options that they support. Once you implement a restricted key system it can be costly to change! So pick a system that meets yours and your clients needs and accounts for future expansion of their business!
Call Pop-A-Lock for your commercial locksmith needs including master keying, re-keying and true high security and restricted key control systems. We are America’s Most Trusted Locksmiths.