Are Kwikset Smartkeys as insecure as critics say? Have you had one broken in?

16 Replies

There's lots of pages out there about how easy it is to defeat a smartkey lock, but I can't find any anecdotes of anyone actually getting robbed by a thief doing so. They're a very attractive idea, and and I have a few, but I'm hesitant to go all in. And it's not clear they're any more vulnerable than regular low end locksets which can be picked and bumped, unlike Smartkeys.

Does anyone have any actual info related to this? 

I have smart locks and never had an issue.

A well trained person can pick your lock before you can get the keys out of your pocket and unlock your door.  A untrained person can kick your door in a few seconds.

I'm more worried about a quirky issue where your key stops working as I have heard a few talk about issues like that.

Originally posted by @Johann Jells:

There's lots of pages out there about how easy it is to defeat a smartkey lock, but I can't find any anecdotes of anyone actually getting robbed by a thief doing so. They're a very attractive idea, and and I have a few, but I'm hesitant to go all in. And it's not clear they're any more vulnerable than regular low end locksets which can be picked and bumped, unlike Smartkeys.

Does anyone have any actual info related to this? 

 Watch this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7LHeY35zxxM

Should tell you all you need to know about how terrible these locks are currently.  The internals are mostly plastic, allowing them to easily be broken with a specialized tool, or even a screw driver, and show no external signs of forced entry.  Takes about 15 seconds to break a kwikset lock, and the bigger issue is, once broken they can re-lock the door and you have no idea.

Originally posted by @Shawn Thom:

A well trained person can pick your lock before you can get the keys out of your pocket and unlock your door.  A untrained person can kick your door in a few seconds.

I totally agree.  My wife gets on to me about not always locking the door.  I tell her if someone wants to get in there is no residential lock that will stop them.  A crowbar will do wonders.  Same thing with a car trunk.  She was shocked one time when I showed her how fast one could be opened with a common screwdriver.

The guy who helped us get in our car after daughter locked the keys inside told me that locks are just to keep honest people honest. The thief that wants in will get in regardless. I think that's true with cars and houses.

So, let's discuss liability when you knowingly install a lock with a vulnerability and that vulnerability is exploited. Tenant says doors were locked, but stuff has gone missing - and only the landlord has an extra key ...

Ah, but @Steve Babiak ALL locks have known vulnerabilities. What makes Smartkey any different?

Originally posted by @Tyler Mills:
 The internals are mostly plastic, allowing them to easily be broken with a specialized tool, or even a screw driver, and show no external signs of forced entry.  Takes about 15 seconds to break a kwikset lock, and the bigger issue is, once broken they can re-lock the door and you have no idea.

 Actually, they're metal, I've disassembled one myself to reset it without a key. But it depends on one tiny metal gear tooth per tumbler, so unless the gears are made of something insanely hard but not brittle, they can be broken with the force method.

So everyone has heard the same stories and seen the same videos as me, but no one has actually heard of a burglar forcing one?

Nope, I've only seen the videos touting the "specialized tools" that can break the locks. So exactly what  door locks are people using that 100% cannot be defeated by some sort of "tool"? I can find videos of people using tools on Defiant and Schlage locks also... so unless you are completely bulletproofing your property I think it's pointless to worry that there are "tools" out there that can overcome a specific doorknob. 

Defiant Knob

Schlage Knob

Originally posted by @Johann Jells:
Originally posted by @Tyler Mills:
 The internals are mostly plastic, allowing them to easily be broken with a specialized tool, or even a screw driver, and show no external signs of forced entry.  Takes about 15 seconds to break a kwikset lock, and the bigger issue is, once broken they can re-lock the door and you have no idea.

 Actually, they're metal, I've disassembled one myself to reset it without a key. But it depends on one tiny metal gear tooth per tumbler, so unless the gears are made of something insanely hard but not brittle, they can be broken with the force method.

So everyone has heard the same stories and seen the same videos as me, but no one has actually heard of a burglar forcing one?

 Here are pictures of the internals of the KwikSet Smart Key, you can see the majority of the cylinder is plastic:

http://www.lockwiki.com/index.php/Kwikset_Smart_Ke...

That being said, if you really are looking for a lock that is harder to force entry on, look at Schlage Primus, or other similar keys that actually have two sets of pins. These again are by no means "thief proof" but they are going to be harder to pick and can't be bumped.

Updated about 4 years ago

By internals of the lock btw, I mean the portion that controls the pins/ the movement of the pins, which is plastic and susceptible to being broken with a force tool, you are correct that the housing itself is metal, but the housing doesn't do much to sto

Updated about 4 years ago

stop* the lock from being forced when the mechanism for movement/triggering of the pins is plastic and accessible via the the key hole

@Tyler Mills:

 Sorry Tyler, but you're mistaken about the plastic, those parts are metal, as I've said, I've disassembled one myself, not just looked at pictures. This video shows the construction better https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aQjXl78DdUA.

This does not mean the demonstrated vulnerability is less, just that they're not stupid enough to make it from plastic.

Originally posted by @Johann Jells:
@Tyler Mills:

 Sorry Tyler, but you're mistaken about the plastic, those parts are metal, as I've said, I've disassembled one myself, not just looked at pictures. This video shows the construction better https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aQjXl78DdUA.

This does not mean the demonstrated vulnerability is less, just that they're not stupid enough to make it from plastic.

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7LHeY35zxxM

Mentions plastic interior, but also in the description it states that in more recent releases of the SmartKey series they have upgraded a lot of the plastic to metal parts. So good to know they already correct one glaring oversight of this series

See this video... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sR-h64WwfW8

All it takes is a simple tool and vice grips. It leaves no obvious visual evidence of a break-in.

Ouch.

Get an electric key pad deadbolt w/out a keyway... Problem solved. Batteries could go dead but if you are responsible you won't have an issue. I've got one on all my properties and my tenants love them and so do I. 

Locks keep honest people honest. I've owned and managed property for about 25 years. Every break in I've had has been just kicking in the door. Real life criminals don't waste the precious seconds or minutes it takes to pick locks. For this reason I do not lock deadbolts on vacant homes, only the knobs. It's far less damage when someone kicks in a door with a locked knob. If the deadbolt is locked it ruins the jamb and sometimes the door. That being said I use standard kwicksets, I learned to relay and master locks, takes a little more time but worth it in the long run.

Perhaps the bigger issue with the Smartlock is that they give the "impression" of being a secure lock. 

Having said that we've used them on one house with absolutely no problem in terms of anyone breaking in.  However, I don't tell new tenants these are Smartlocks put in to foil break ins.

In 16 houses we've had two break ins; neither one involving a Smartlock.  In one instance tenants had a double cylinder deadbolt on a back door with windows; they left over a long holiday weekend BUT FORGOT TO LOCK THE DEADBOLT.  Someone simply broke one of the panes of glass, reached in and unlocked the bottom cylinder lock and walked in. 

 In the second break in the culprit was the tenants lawn guy; he knew when she was away at work and school.  She forgot to lock the five foot double gates when he left; he came into the yard and kicked the back door in.

Notice the emphasis on back door break ins.  Rather than Smartlocks, etc., it may make more sense to consider full steel doors on back doors.  Perhaps not guaranteed to stop a break in though.

Gail

Why bother with smart locks? You can have a locksmith rekey your locks for about $25 each and create a master key system for you and you don't even have to make a trip to the property. It's at least a bit more secure and now I only have to carry one key with me. As several people mentioned above, the only break ins I've had to deal with were people kicking in doors or breaking windows- locks are only one small component of security. If someone wants to get in, they will get in.

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