Card Keys are the Ultimate Solution to Key Loss – A Myth

For years there has been a prevailing myth that card keys are the solution to preventing the serious consequences to losing master keys.  Those who are seasoned property/facility managers know better.  There is always a physical “brass” or “hard”  master key behind every card key to ensure against demagnetization of card keys, power outages and computer failures.  Now there is another threat to card key systems – hacking.

Earlier this year, Finnish security experts discovered a software flaw that allowed them to create a master key card from any hotel key card, even expired ones!

To find out why a surprisingly large number of hotels are sticking with metal keys instead of card keys click here.

The Gravity is the perfect addition for any facilities key control program. View The Gravity’s  fail-proof key control here.


Oberlin College Misplaces Master Key

ResEd Misplaces South Hall Master Key


Dual-degree sophomore Corley Friesen-Johnson and Conservatory junior Maggie King hanging out in South Hall. A master key to the dorm went missing toward the end of the Spring 2018 semester.

Editor’s note: Editor-in-Chief Nathan Carpenter is a student staff member for the Office of Residental Education, and was uninvolved with the reporting and editing of this story.

A master key to South Hall, one of Oberlin’s largest traditional housing facilities, has been missing for several months. This key is able to access any room in South Hall, which has a capacity of 220 students.

“The College became aware of a master key being missing toward the end of the [spring] semester,” said Andy Sadouskas, assistant dean.

Residents were not informed about the potential security risk, and the locks have not been changed since the discovery of the missing key. Instead, Oberlin Facilities and Operations simply replaced the key.

“I feel lied and cheated to by ResEd,” said Birsa Chatterjee, a former RA and current South resident. “They do nothing but f**k students over. There is so much wrong with our living situations. It’s not fair for students to pay so much, to live in a building like this, and have them do nothing about the key.” Chatterjee was employed as an RA at the time the master key disappeared.

“I was still in the group chat. We knew the key went missing. The protocol is that all the locks should be changed. I have a lot of valuables in my room and a lot of robberies have already happened in South,” Chatterjee said.

Many South Hall residents are worried about their security and the security of their personal belongings.

“Not being informed is terrifying. Someone could steal something, or hurt me or one of my quad mates,” College sophomore Reet Goraya explained.

“I think it would have been nice to be told about it. If something happened in my room, I would want to know what the first possibility would be,” Conservatory junior Colin Anderson said. “I will be more secure about where I put things in my room.”

“Some people keep necessary medications in their rooms. If someone has a key like that, that medication could be taken from someone who really needs it,” said College junior Connor Swan.

Other South Hall residents feel that the disappearance of the key is not a pressing threat to their safety.

“If someone has it, it could be bad. I feel pretty safe around here, but it may scare other people,” first-year Nico Moreta said.

“I do not care. I lock my door, but there are so many other rooms in this building,” said College senior Eliot Sernau.

EmmaLia Marriner, a College senior and lead RA of the FEAST cluster, which includes Fairchild House, East Hall, South Hall, and Talcott Hall, believes that ResEd recognizes both the importance of security on campus and the costs of obtaining security.

“I know that they [Residential Education Staff] really prioritize security on campus. They are always looking for ways to increase security on campus, whether that be ID swipes, keys for rooms, things like that. It is a major concern for campus. However, those kinds of materials are very expensive. So they always have to weigh the benefits of security and the somewhat incredible costs of paying for that security. With a master key lost, there is no way to know if someone has that key or if they ever want to use it malevolently. But the cost is incredible; You have to justify what kind of risk losing a master key like that poses and if it justifies the cost.”

Facilities did not provide an estimate of the cost involved in changing the locks in South Hall. However, the Office of Residential Education Housing and Dining Regulations details that students will be charged “at least $60 per lock change.” There are nearly 150 rooms in South Hall.

Andy Sadouskas assured that the College will continue to pursue precautions to enhance security.

“The College is always looking for ways to improve processes. We will be making requests to purchase new key boxes with either ‘trap keys’ or card access so we know who is accessing master keys. We will also advocate for replacing all keyed spaces with keyless locks as keyless cards can be shut off if lost.”

The whereabouts of the master key remain unknown. No new locks have been installed, but an additional key has been created to replace the misplaced one.


USPS Master Keys aka Arrow Keys Are Stolen

Two arrested in Granite Bay with bogus credit cards allegedly stole 39 identities

Men Pose as Maintenance Workers, Steal Master Keys to Back Bay Building

BOSTON – Two men pretending to be maintenance workers stole a set of master keys and got into a Back Bay apartment building, according to police. The two men, a 59-year-old man from Medford and a 30-year-old man from Cambridge, were arrested at a Commonwealth Avenue apartment building around 10 a.m. Monday. The men were found in the building, according to police. Boston police say the men used a set of stolen master keys to get in while posing as maintenance workers for the building’s management company. Both men have been charged with breaking and entering and possession of burglarious tools. – August 29, 2018

Comment: While this article provides no information on how the thieves obtained the apartment building master keys, we can presume there was either a breach in key control protocols or their key control program was not fully developed.  In order to verify that your key control program is adequate and  master keys are not in jeopardy of being lost or stolen, please refer to Chapter 7 of “The Key to Keys” by Randy Neely which details the Components of a Successful Key Control Program. – Anne Gareis, Director of Operations for Tether Technologies. 

Is Your Facility at Financial Risk from an Employee Misplacing Keys?

Did you hear about the Casino employee that misplaced their keys resulting in a nearly $200,000 theft?  See our previous post for the full article.

Is your Casino or facility safe-guarded from this type of incident?

Unfortunately, the most expensive Electronic Key Cabinets or RFID Key Tracking would not have prevented the employee from misplacing keys that led to this theft.

The good news is there is a solution that eliminates human error and completely prevents an employee from losing or misplacing critical keys.  The solution is the Gravity® key tether, the only industrial grade, digital tethering device that provides three types of alarms (85 dB audio, vibration and LED strobe light) when keys are separated 10-15 feet from the user. Having your team utilize the  Gravity® will prevent an embarrassing and costly theft at your Casino or facility.

Get the Casino House Advantage and Fix the Odds with Gravity® and provide an extra layer of protection to your current key control protocols!


Casino Employee Walks Away From Keys, and $193K Is Taken

Wind Creek Montgomery casino suffered a theft on Aug. 10

(NEWSER) – Misplaced keys usually don’t result in federal charges, but that was apparently the case in Alabama. The Montgomery Advertiser reports Timothy Dean Pettiway has been charged with theft from a gaming establishment on Indian lands after allegedly stealing $192,800 from Wind Creek Montgomery casino on Aug. 10. Federal prosecutors allege an employee left keys to two kiosks on top of a machine and that Pettiway retrieved them and used them to remove the box of $100 bills from kiosks 8 and 19. He allegedly took the boxes one at a time into a bathroom that his nephew, Jory D’Michael Travunn Dumas, was in; the emptied cash boxes were later found in a stall.

Dumas, a former casino employee who had been fired for theft, was also arrested Tuesday, but he was dismissed from the case Friday after prosecutors said they mistakenly identified him as the one who had collected the keys. He has been advised that he’s not immune from future charges. Pettiway was on Friday denied bond, with the judge citing his decades-long criminal history and the fact that the $192,800 remains missing. “A person with access to that much cash would have a reasonable opportunity to flee,” said US Magistrate Judge Gray Borden, per the reports the Poarch Band of Creek Indians runs three Wind Creek casino locations in Alabama, including the one that was hit. (A top gambler lost out on $10.2 million after a court ruled he cheated.)


Report cites lax security at state mental hospital

SEATTLE — Corrections officials who investigated the April escape of two violent patients from Washington state’s largest psychiatric hospital say they discovered a list of mistakes, blunders and deceptions at what should be a secure facility.

Investigators tasked with assessing security at Western State Hospital determined there were no routine inspections; 25,000 master keys were missing; thousands of tools used to open patient windows had been misplaced; and management was unwilling to recognize that failing to focus on security puts patients and the public at risk, according to a report obtained by The Associated Press in response to a public records request.

The report said that attitude was the main cause of the April 6 escape by Anthony Garver, who was confined amid allegations that he tortured and killed a woman, and Mark Alexander Adams, who has multiple domestic violence convictions. Adams was caught the next day, but Garver made it across the state and was captured several days later.

‘It’s been more than a month’: NB housing loses master key to hundreds of apartments

NB Housing employees change the locks in a north end neighbourhood in Saint John on Friday. (Roger Cosman/CBC)

NB Housing reported the lost keys on March 22 but keys disappeared Feb. 13, according to police

By Rachel Cave, CBC News Posted: Mar 24, 2017 1:16 PM AT / Last Updated: Mar 24, 2017 7:12 PM AT

NB Housing hurried Friday to replace locks and add security at housing units in Saint John after a set of custodial keys, including a master key capable of opening hundreds of individual apartments, disappeared more than 35 days ago.

Sgt. Charles Breen of the Saint John police said NB Housing reported the lost keys to police on March 22, but they had been missing since Feb. 13. In a later email, Breen clarified that a police report on the keys did not indicate that NB Housing knew they were missing Feb. 13.

The cost of fixing the problem is not known.

CBC News reached out to Lenny England, 54, who was the custodian responsible for the lost keys, but he said he was unable to comment.

Brenda Rathburn, a tenant who was aware for quite a while that the keys were missing, said it was a comfort to see the situation being addressed, but she felt the delay required some explanation.

“I don’t have any apprehension about going to bed at night anymore,” she said. “But I just feel Housing [took] a long time getting around to doing something after they were informed. It’s been more than a month.”

Tenants Receive Updates

The Department of Social Development did not acknowledge there had been a delay. A spokeswoman said the department takes security seriously and it took immediate action after learning about the master key.

Spokeswoman Anne Mooers did not say how many units were affected or where they were located, other than in Saint John.

Tenants received undated notices in their mailbox that informed them a set of keys had been recently lost.

“The safety and security of all our tenants is very important. Therefore, we will be changing the locks on your Public Housing unit as soon as possible,” said the notice.

“Additional security will be placed around all affected buildings until all locks have been changed.”

NB Housing tenants were told they would get 24-hour notice of their locks being changed. (CBC)

Locks changed at Parklea Jail after keys stolen by released inmate

An inmate allegedly stole a set of jail keys as he was being released from a Sydney prison, in an embarrassing security bungle which led to a number of locks having to be changed.

Police were yesterday investigating the December 22 incident at the privately-run Parklea Correctional Centre.

The inmate is alleged to have taken the keys from a staff area as he was being processed for release before walking past guards with them.

Public Service Association Prison Officers branch chairman Steve McMahon slammed the incident as a “rookie mistake” which could cost the state thousands of dollars in replacement locks.

Phoenix Fire Department Loses 850 Keys

The Phoenix Fire Department said Monday it can’t account for hundreds of keys for lock boxes that allow firefighters responding to fires or alarms to enter thousands of businesses and apartment complexes when they are closed.

Deputy Chief David Carter blamed poor record keeping over the past 15 years for the missing 850 keys but said there’s no indication they have been used for criminal purposes.

“Our accountability isn’t the best here,” he said.

Some of the missing keys may have been damaged and replaced and others may have been changed hands when firefighters retired, Carter said.

Loss of master keys costs college $500K

The struggle is real at the College of William and Mary.

According to a Jan. 26 report by the college’s student newspaper, The Flat Hat, the college will have to pay more than $500,000 to replace keys and lock cores in numerous campus buildings after its set of master keys went missing last semester.

The keys gave William and Mary employees access to a number of campus buildings, including Greek houses and all residence halls except one. For security reasons, the Department of Facilities Management has started replacing 3,000 lock cores in affected dorms this semester, The Flat Hat reports