New device lets crooks crack many hotel locks

[I’m disturbed that the Today Show’s security expert mentioned in this article/episode didn’t correct NBC that it wasn’t thieves that invented this device, but this is also the same network that let Bob Costas flap his gums about a number of factually incorrect claims about gun control during NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” halftime. — WK]

By Jeff Rossen and Josh Davis Today News December 6, 2012

Some insiders are calling it a security crisis at hotels nationwide: A breach, leaving you more vulnerable.

When you lock your hotel door, you assume you’re safe and your stuff is safe. Don’t be so sure: Thieves have invented a small, simple device that can unlock hotel doors at some of the most popular chains. Some hotels have known about this security problem for months — so why hasn’t it been fixed?

Jim Stickley is a security expert who worked with us on this report. Using a homemade gadget to pop electronic doors, he was able to break into a hotel room in seconds — no kicking the door, no fancy tools.

We booked hotel rooms in New Jersey where he did it again and again — at a Hyatt, a Ramada, a Doubletree Hilton. This security flaw is so alarming, even hotel managers are stunned. “That’s absolutely insane,” one said when we showed him.

The device is so small, thieves can hide it in a magic marker. And criminals are learning how to make it watching videos posted online.

“Do you have to be a computer whiz to build one of these?” we asked Stickley.

“No, you could be a village idiot,” he said. “Just go online and you can find step-by-step instructions and be done in a half hour.”


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