Found on falfiles gen disc (thanks Cookie).www.qctimes.com/internal.php?story_id=1035941&l=1&t=Local+News&c=2,1035941
Saturday, September 25th, 2004
By Barb Ickes : Viewpoint
By putting two and two together, a Bettendorf father of three managed to break into his own gun cabinet using nothing but a Bic pen.
The man asked that only his first name, Mark, be used in this article, fearing that publishing his identity and the fact that he has guns in his home could invite trouble.
The company that made his gun cabinet was very familiar with Mark’s name after he made several calls to them this week.
When news broke last week about a popular, high-end brand of bicycle lock, Kryptonite, being susceptible to a simple break-in method, the Bettendorf man recognized the type of tubular lock and round key that were described in the story. It sounded just like the lock on the gun cabinet bolted to the wall of his bedroom closet.
After reading the story, the man called Wauconda, Ill.-based Stack-On Products Co., which made his gun cabinet. Even though a company spokesperson assured him his cabinet was secure and the lock could not be opened with a pen, he was not convinced.
“I used three different kinds of pens,” he said. “I need to be thorough. I’ve got three kids living in my house.”
After doing a little research on the Internet and reading about the flaw in the Kryptonite locks, the man went to a Staples store to buy a box of the Bic pens that were specifically cited as the break-in tool. He pulled the ink cartridge out of a pen and widened one end of the barrel slightly by scraping it with his pocket knife, just like a Web site instructed.
“I had run home for lunch and was in a hurry,” he said. “Within 30 seconds, I was into the safe with that pen.”
Another call went into Stack-On, he said, and, this time the same employee told him an engineer would be dispatched to Bettendorf to inspect his gun cabinet.
On Wednesday afternoon, the man demonstrated how he could move the locking mechanism on his gun cabinet with a slightly altered Bic pen.
“You can find more expensive gun cabinets that will protect your weapons from fire and all that, but all I really needed was to keep my guns away from my kids,” he said. “It turns out I had a false sense of security.”
Susan Eckhoff, the vice president of administration for Stack-On, said the calls from Bettendorf launched the company’s engineering department into an investigation of the tubular locks. She would neither confirm nor deny that the locks may be faulty.
“Right now, they’re telling me they’ll have something on our Web site next week — Monday or Tuesday,” she said. “Not everything is finalized.
“(The Bettendorf man) is the only phone call we had,” she said. “We’re very grateful that he did call.”
To hear some area retailers tell it, many gun owners have become increasingly security-savvy and are investing in more expensive gun safes and cabinets that use combination or electronic locks rather than the tubular locks. The less expensive models, such as the Stack-On cabinet that was opened with a Bic pen, are not as popular as they used to be, retailers say.
In fact, some stores have stopped stocking the tubular-lock models made by Stack-On.
“Security is a definite concern and that’s why we stopped selling them,” said Matt Meyer, a manager at K&K Hardware in Bettendorf. “If I wanted to keep my young children out of it, I would choose the heaviest-duty gun cabinet I could find.
“I have two kids and I wouldn’t buy a cheap one.”
The cabinets can range in price from less than $100 to well over $1,000, but, regardless of price, manufacturers boast that all of their cabinets are secure. In fact, the model the Bettendorf father owns is one of the products pictured on the Stack-On Web site, where it notes that the cabinet is “California Department of Justice Certified.”
Even so, Kevin Nyberg, the manager of the Gander Mountain sporting goods store in Davenport, said an increasing number of gun owners are willing to pay the extra money for heavy-duty gun safes and cabinets. He estimated that, in the past six months, his store has sold only a couple of the Stack-On models that use a tubular lock.
Nyberg also said he is confident Stack-On will correct the problem.
“I wouldn’t doubt at all that they’ll be sending lock upgrades … or complete return-to-vendor offers,” he said. “Stack-On is a stand-up company, and I’m sure that when their engineers figure it out, they’ll do something to fix the problem.”
While the Bettendorf man said he is most alarmed by the apparent vulnerability of tubular locks on gun safes, he wonders how many other products are at risk.
“I’m guessing we’ll be seeing Bic pens sticking out of vending machines, pay phones and file cabinets all over the place,” he said. “But security doesn’t get any more important than when you’re talking about keeping guns out of the hands of children.”
Barb Ickes can be contacted at (563) 383-2316 or firstname.lastname@example.org.