On October 1st, 2012 a news story ran in the NY Post about a retired locksmith named Daniel Ferraris from New Jersey who sold a set of 5 keys on Ebay that were being called Masterkeys for the New York City Fire Department.
Source - http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/lock_away_these_nyc_keys_g3PWCp3FzMapURRjyssJ4J
This apparently angered NY City officials and public advocate Bill DeBlasio who raised concerns over terrorism. Keywords such as being alarmed, angered, lives at risk, safety, and more surfaced. Calls to Home Land Security were even made!
DeBlasio himself went so far to say - "We cannot let anyone sell the safety of over 8 million people so easily. Having these keys on the open market literally puts lives at risk. The billions we've spent on counter-terrorism have been severely undercut by this breech [sic]."
A NYFD lieutenant said, “This guy should be prosecuted for selling something like that."
This blog entry may help to "put out a fire" and possibly help to point to the cause of the fire, which may not necessarily be retired locksmith Daniel Ferraris.
The Society of Professional Locksmiths was contacted by the NY Post to examine the images of these keys to determine if they could be decoded and made simply by sight. The answer is Yes, they can be "decoded" visually. This is a skill of "reading the key" and is often utilized by professional locksmiths, although it is not impossible for a novice to achieve with trial and error. But there is a missing component not being mentioned.
Source - http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/quick_cheap_to_duplicate_LDyfssGvqhuyUrG6b0P6YM
You have to know which keyblank to use and have access to the right one that fits the actual lock cylinder.
The keys in question ARE NOT restricted or controlled in any manner or by any locksmith industry standards or ethics. They are commercially available keys with easily obtainable blanks. There are no markings on the key to indicate any sensitivity, patent number, serial numbers or even a Do Not Duplicate stamping. What makes a key restricted is the restriction or reserved distribution of the blanks themselves among authorized dealers.
The idea that anyone can stamp a key with Do Not Duplicate does not mean it is restricted In fact, there are many companies that stamp keys with this marking as Barry Campbell Managing Director of the SOPL points out - "There is a reason someone stamped that key that way!" Some would argue that some lockmsiths would stamp Do Not Duplicate on every key in an effort to prevent competitors from duplicating them. Even institutional locksmiths and university's stamped keys are not truly restricted but they are indicating that the key is part of a larger security concern which should be respected.
High security lock cylinders or locking systems are useless if the keyblanks they use are made freely available and offer no key control management.
Daniel Ferraris offered for sale keys that were not restricted by design but by possible internal policy of the NYFD. The term Masterkey is also questionable since many people mistakenly identify their keys as being a masterkey simply because it opens more than one lock. To understand the difference between a masterkey, operating key, change key and more it would be necessary to review Basic Masterkeying -
A key with a single bitting combination which is issued to everyone in the NYFD is not a masterkey if the lock cylinders are all fit to operate that single combination and no others.
To further understand the differences between Do Not Duplicate, Do Not Copy, proprietary key systems and un-monitored keys, read institutional locksmith Don O'Shalls paper on "Do Not Duplicate" -
Source - http://locksmithcharley.com/DND.pdf
In his writing Don also points out institutional policy as it relates to controlling keys. So what exactly was or is the policy in the NY Fire Department? Mayor Bloomberg states that they are investigating current procedures to ensure "proper controls are in place."
Of the 5 keys sold on EBAY, 3 of them were Yale keyways. None were restricted. However, Yale does have 3 levels of security cylinders with exclusive keyways. The highest restriction being the VYZ keyway where keys can only be obtained from the manufacturer and only with an authorized signature. There are many such systems which require an authorized signature that even the local locksmith provides.
Source - http://stuff.mit.edu/afs/sipb/user/jhawk/cyl_keys.pdf
The NYFD and City of New York did not utilize such systems when we examine these keys. By claiming they are restricted appears to be more of an internal policy to prevent their firefighters from having unauthorized duplicates made. So who is to blame?
If retired locksmith Daniel Ferraris promoted and sold these keys on EBAY with full knowledge of what they were for, then shame on him, he knows better. But the question still comes back to the fact that they are not restricted and can be made without any penalty. If the NYFD chose to use a non-restrictive locking system or failed to upgrade those in highly sensitive applications that could result in chaos, then maybe Bill DeBlasio and others need to look more closely at why they are presenting a false sense of security and any mentioning of prosecution may become negligence on behalf of New York City and the NYFD.
Unlike the Associated Locksmiths of America (ALOA) which advises its members to treat the "Do Not Duplicate" keys in the same manner as any unrestricted key, we at the Society of Professional Locksmiths disagree with their standards and prefer the ethical approach by recommending a refusal of service. Other alternatives are available such as rekeying the lock the key fits, or replacing the hardware. Keys with this stamping are in essence no longer capable of being generated beyond itself.
Source - http://www.sandiegolockandsafe.com/docs/aloatechnicalstandards.pdf
There is no need for more rules, laws or prosecution. What is needed is better "key control" and members of the Society of Professional Locksmiths provide such products and services.
Another thing to consider is that mass retailers are now using automated vending machines to duplicate keys and there is no way to prevent an unauthorized key from being made. MinuteKey is the company who provides these machines in places such as Lowes claim in their FAQ's the following -
Can I copy “Do Not Duplicate,” school building, high-security, public institution or other restricted keys? No, this machine is not to be used for duplicating these types of keys. See Terms & Conditions.
Source - http://www.minutekey.com/faq.htm
What is needed is for the consumer and others to learn and understand what the professional and ethical locksmiths offer and how they can resolve these issues cost effectively.
Ask your Locksmith! - http://www.sopl.us/public-service-announcements.html
The following keys shapes and many others can be duplicated without your knowledge. If you have one of these on your key ring, contact your local Society of Professional Locksmiths and ask for an upgrade.
November 18, 2018
Has New York City Fixed It's Key Problems?
Home Advisor (formerly Service Magic) Testimonials And Sites That Recommend Us
Danny was very professional and friendly at the same time. He not only gave me the quote and fixed the exterior door and explained his work. He was prompt and upfront about the work and did the work. He came in time took care of it on the same day. (Sasheethn K St Louis MO) June 2018d out problems but assured not urgent. Please feel free to have Danny pass out my number for my total experience review 314-351-5553
Charlie M. (St Louis, MO) November 2015
Danny was pleasure to meet and was very knowledgable. He explained several lock replacement options but I decided none of them were a good fit for a storm door, however, I did replace a lock on my entry door with a type of lock I had never seen before. I would highly recommend this company.
Patricia J (Bridgeton, MO) March 2014
They were prompt and showed up when he said he would show up. He knew his stuff. I had ordered new handles and he was honest enough to say that we don't need them that he can fix the doors and he did. Made me lock and unlock my doors to his satisfaction so that I knew what to do. Am very, very pleased with the service and cost.
Joyce K (Glencoe, MO) May 2015
Showed up on time for appointment. Was very knowledgeable about the project and offered a solution beyond what I asked to be done.
Stephen G (Chesterfield, MO) May 2015
Daniel was right on time, assessed the problems I had with two doors, made the repairs, and explained what caused the problems to begin with .... He is a "door expert" and a true professional. I highly recommend him.
Vince V (St. Louis MO) May, 2015
Danny was fabulous! He went over my concerns and he provided me with more than a fair quote. He was there when he said he was going to be there. I would highly recommend Danny. Cheers!
Denise S (Imperial, MO) May 8, 2014
Hired Danny to re-key locks on "new" house purchase. He advised to replace with new deadbolts & door knobs on 3 entry doors instead which I agreed with. All doors have 1 matching key & the safety of excellent quality product & workmanship. He also added new strike plate to door frame to complete project.. I recommend as your 1st & only call to a Locksmith.
Denise F (St. Louis, MO) April 3, 2014
Danny was very helpful in solving a pretty complex problem involving many lock.
Scott C (Eureka, MO) March 27, 2014
Needed patio door track to run smoothly. Arrived early, fixed door and explained what he was doing during repair. Quick and easy. Door works great, my wife will now speak to me, and I've become a better dancer.
Mike W. (Arnold/Oakville MO) July 2013
The owner spent a longtime with me on the phone helping diagnosis the problem. He was on-time, friendly and helped resolve my issue. I will definitely use him again!
Chris C (Lake St Louis, MO) July 2013
I had a very pleasant experience with Master Key Systems. They came out, did the job (which took longer than expected) and they did not change the price they quoted me. Now, I am not certain that it was a great value for the money because I don't have a comparison, but they did what they said, when they said, for the price they said. Enough said!!!
Antonio B (Saint Louis, Missouri) March 2013
Professional.. Upfront about charges. Fixed the sticky door within 20 minutes. I will recommend Master Key for exterior door issues.
Muthu R (Ballwin, MO) July 2012
Danny was a master craftsman, knowledgable and professional. I will be calling on him again in the future as well as passing on his services to friends and family.
Marsha L (Saint Louis, MO) July 2012
Danny was excellent! I called him on a Monday to fix a sliding glass door. He happened to have the exact part we needed (and it was not an easy find - we had looked everywhere) and he came over Tuesday evening. He stayed until 8:00 until the job was done, and cleaned up afterwards. He was courteous, professional, and efficient! I could not be happier!
Rachel P Maryland Heights, MO (July 2012)
He did an excellent job. Got there on time and quickly solved the issue. Was very pleasant and explained the situation and how to keep the door from sticking in the future. Would definitely use Master Key LLC again!
Neil F. (Saint Louis, MO) April 2012
Danny was very friendly and knowledgeable, although his apprentice seemed to do most of the work, Danny kept an eye on him to make sure it was done right. He had very reasonable pricing for re-keying.
Greg D (St Louis, MO) October 2011
He was extrememly fabulous and helpful and did a wonderful job. He was very professional.
Shannon M. (Arnold, MO) October 2011
Growing up spending so much of my time in Italy, the uniqueness of the Nova Classico left quite an impression on me. To be able to have and enjoy them in my own home here in the states is a nostalgic indulgence I'm enjoying beyond words. Thank you Danny for coordinating this transaction.
Joseph M (Chicago, IL) September 2011
great job. hired on the spot and he did job right then at great price
Ron B (Arnold, MO) July 2011
I searched the internet and found your services. I received three phone calls within several days. A service call was scheduled. Two gentlemen arrived promptly, analyzed the problem and fixed it.
James & Florenc M Saint Louis, MO July 2011
The repairman was on time and did an excellent job of fixing a very stubborn door lock. He was persistent and cleaned up the work area afterwards. I would use this service again.
Brenda F (Saint Peters, MO) June 2011
Danny was very polite and knew what the problem was and how to fix it. He also gave me some information about other issues that could arise with my door and locks. Will hire again if I ever need that type of work done.
Jason M Imperial, MO March 2011
I had an exterior basement door that dragged when opening and closing. The hinges were not fitting properly and the door frame had shifted, probably due to the age of the house.The screwswould not go far enough into the wall without hitting stone...even using a special drill bit. Dan worked a long time drilling and sanding to shore up the door as best as possible. I know it will never be perfect. He could have easily sold me a new door and the same issue would happen. He was honest, thorough, and did an excellent job without charging me a fortune. I'm satisfied with the door now. If you want an honest, experienced man, Then Dan is the man
Roger M Saint Louis, MO March 2011
I purchased the Cowdroy P697 Pocket door lock with key over the internet. I emailed questions before my purchase and was provided with the answers quickly by return email. The purchase was quick and easy and the lock was shipped immediatly. Installation is quick and easy. But you do need to convert millimeters to inches (use the internet) in the installation instructions. And the lock looks great and works great. I will do business with them again. THANK YOU
Ed D (February, 2011)
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