Trying to determine if a burglar has tampered with your lock can be difficult. It’s essential to examine your door lock if something doesn’t look right. 

Ways to Tell If Your Lock Has been Tampered With

Discovering that your security may have been compromised is a terrifying feeling. Whether you’re a homeowner or a tenant, lock tampering needs to be dealt with immediately. Here are the most common lock tampering techniques and warning signs you should pay attention to.


Brute Force

red bolt cutters

This is the hastiest and messiest form of an attempted break-in. When an intruder uses brute force during an attempted break-in, it will be easy to spot signs on your lock fixture movement. 

A criminal will often try to drill through a deadbolt, break a lock, or kick down a door. Brute force could also include the burglar drilling the lock and then using a crowbar to damage the lock’s body. 


Signs of Brute Force Tampering

For brute force attempts, you may see debris, splinters, a dented lock, or scratches after an attempted break-in to your home.

There are less obvious ways to force through a lock, though, so you might also look for unnatural wear signs and damage. Sometimes, latches and deadbolts can be bent during the attempt, and there is damage or warping to the door or doorframe.


More than 90% of American doors use old-style cylinder locks which are vulnerable to lock bumping. Lock bumping is a technique that doesn’t need special equipment. It’s one of the fastest and easiest ways for burglars to break into a home.

Burglars often use this method by filing down the key’s teeth to make it work as a little saw to open the door lock. Using the filed-down key, they can easily get into your home. While the scenario is a bit alarming, it is good to note that there are signs that bumping will leave along the way.


Signs of Lock Bumping

One sign of lock bumping is the presence of fresh nicks around the keyhole’s edges. The lock’s shiny metal edges may also look like they’ve been recently hit. This usually results from the forceful pounding of the key into the keyhole. 


Lock Picking

locksmith lock pick service

Picking is where a burglar uses small tools like a flat screwdriver to turn the lock. Then they use a pick to rake the pin tumblers. The tools reach the pin tumblers inside the lock and force it to turn. Then, just like bumping, once the tumblers catch, the lock easily turns. 


Signs of Lock Picking

Picking a lock takes more time and expertise than bumping. It’s also a gentler technique, so it is unlikely to leave indications like warped pins or bolts. As picks wiggle around inside a lock, they can cut into the edges and leave marks that show attempts to pick the lock.


Upgrade Your Home Security To Protect Against Door Lock Tampering

residential locksmith teaches kid

Based on reports from the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) and the Department of Justice, nearly two-thirds of all residential break-ins leave no sign of entry.

If you notice any signs of tampering on your door locks, it’s important to report it to the police as soon as possible. The second thing you need to do is call a locksmith to upgrade your locking system.


Discovering that your security has been compromised is a terrifying feeling. No one should feel unsafe at home.

One of the best ways to prevent lock tampering is to change your locks or upgrade them to hybrid digital and mechanical bolts, which don’t use tumblers and pins. Whether you choose high-security locks or a smart lock, upgrading will help secure your home and prevent future lock tampering. 

The certified locksmiths at A Carolina Locksmith can examine your lock and repair it within minutes. 

For more information about how you can upgrade your locks for your home’s security, contact us today.


  • I had no idea that your lock would leave traces of possible forced entry or lockpicking attempts if they decide to invade your home. I like your suggestion of hiring locksmiths who can properly diagnose this for you and provide a solution for your security issues. I’ll probably reach out to one of these experts if ever I end up in this situation in the future.

  • Zoe Campos says:

    I totally agree that any signs of tampering on our door locks should be reported to the police. We haven’t encountered this situation, but there’s been circulating news around the neighborhood stating that there’s an intruder on the loose. Once I see signs of forced entry on our front door, I’ll be sure to call the police and hire an emergency locksmith for repair.

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