Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Duplicate Key From Scanned Image

LifeHacker reports an incident in which a reader, Mark, left behind his keys while on holiday so got a scanned copy of his keys from his girlfriend.

The locksmith took the scanned image and matched the numbers from the key and the car model against a database of known keys. The first cut key worked and it only cost $29!

That's one tech-savvy locksmith.


San Diego Lock & Safe said...

Hi there!

You know, any locksmith worth his or her salt should be able to do this without batting an eye or even thinking it over. It is a standard skill, reading cuts, and one that should be amongst the first learned.

Just as an FYI, there ARE possible legal ramifications for some locksmiths which may prevent some from performing this service, particularly by mail. For example, if you have a physical key in hand, possession is 9 points of the law, right? We can make a duplicate for you, no problem. However, if you have only a photo or a key code, ownership is harder to prove. We run into situations all the time where ex's, or family, or thieves are trying to make off with something not theirs (like a car), and providing this service without proving ownership would essentially be putting the ability to drive the vehicle off into possibly the wrong hands - To a GOOD locksmith, who takes his profession seriously, and is licensed, bonded, insured, etc., we gnerally will not take that liability on. We have to be cautious, both for the customer's security, as well as ours.

Another FYI, the "database of known keys" mentioned in the Lifehacker article is not actually that. :) It is a database of known key codes used for specific year, makes, and models. It gives us from one to 6 or so choices for the correct cut depth in any given cut. It's then up to us to determine which one is correct. :)

Last FYI: This technique ONLY works on vehicles that do not require transponder programming. :)

Hope this helps clarify a bit.


San Diego Lock & Safe

Nitin R.K. said...

@San Diego Lock & Safe


Thanks for your comment.

I always wondered how the law treats locksmiths who make keys... if someone were to come with a key that wasn't theirs and made a duplicate, can the locksmith be sued?

Now, if someone came with a lock but without a key and the locksmith helps them out with it, can the locksmith be sued now?

If you answered 'no' to the second one and there was a court ruling to serve as a precedent, hypothetically speaking, a customer can come by with a car (with the lock on the door) but no key... you get my drift.