3 On Your Side Investigates: Keyed Up - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

3 On Your Side Investigates: Keyed Up

JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Lock your keys inside your house? Lose that fancy FOB for your car? 

"Probably every other day, I'm looking for my keys," said Brandon resident Travin Jones.

It happens. After all, there's a reason why more than 18,000 people make a living as locksmiths nationwide, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

For those who want to avoid that hassle, there's a cheaper solution. It's an app called KeyMe, a virtual locksmith of sorts, that lets you take pictures of your own keys and get those copies mailed to you within a week. 

Sounds great for those of us who don't keep spare keys around, right?

"The troubling fact of it is, anyone can get it," said locksmith Daniel Roberts.

Roberts says the ease of use is what worries him, the fact that anybody can grab your keys, take a photo of them with the app, and return your keys because they'll already have what they need at that point: access.

Our investigation found the wording on the key that usually discourages locksmiths from copying keys, "do not duplicate, restricted" didn't stop the app from allowing us to order the key at all.

In fact, you don't even have to take photos of an actual key. In this case, we scanned a photo we had manipulated, and the app couldn't tell the difference.

"That'd be a scary thing for me, I think," said Flowood resident Cory Caton.

It's also complicated for law enforcement.

If someone uses your key to get into your home, more than likely, there won't be signs of forced entry. It'll be harder to prove. 

"It's really hard to tell whether he used a key or someone left it unlocked," said Lt. Mark Miller with the Brandon Police Department.

Experts say your insurance may not even pay you for the items that were stolen because, in essence, a spare key was used.

We reached out to KeyMe to see what the company does to safeguard against criminals and protect consumers.

The company responded to every one of our questions in a three-page statement.

"We have been in business several years, have made over a million keys, and have never had a single instance of our keys being used in a crime. Not surprising, when the alternative, copying a key at a local locksmith, is a completely anonymous and risk-free method of duplicating stolen keys," said KeyMe Vice President of Marketing Michael Harbolt.

Harbolt's complete statement:

Harbolt said the company also keeps a transaction history for every key made and they require a valid credit card, U.S. Postal Service-verified mailing address and Apple-verified device and ID just to mail order a key.

He also addressed those photos we took of a key on another screen, after the image had been altered.

Harbolt said that key would have been flagged by KeyMe's internal review team even if the app let it go through, and it wouldn't have been manufactured.

Roberts believes those security protocols aren't enough.

"If you came up with a fake name, a fake email, you can even go as far as going with a fake debit card with these," said Roberts. "Set up a fake everything. All of this fake information, nothing is checked." 

The protection KeyMe offers also doesn't benefit those who may have had their key copied without their consent and been the victim of a crime because many have never heard of it. 

"The company that makes these keys has also said we go as far as helping the police. How can they help the police if people aren't even aware of you?
 said Roberts.

Miller said one way people can safeguard against this kind of theft is easy: don't set keys down anywhere. Hold onto them. Most importantly, don't leave spares where someone can find them. 

"The one thing that people probably don't pay as much attention to as they used to is their keys. With this app it'll make you think twice about where you put your keys," said Miller.

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