And they are right. There is a trick to open some of these locks in seconds, causing no damage to the lock. In the article, Dutch police advises to always use two locks to secure your bike (and better lock your bike to solid objects too).
Yesterday I learned manufacturers of these locks were going to warn the public using nation wide advertisement in newspapers. Curiously I looked in the newspaper today, and had to look twice. But I found the add on page 26 (of the digital telegraaf edition). I expected the add to say something like: Warning, possible product failure. Instead it said: A new phase in security. First thing the add does is … advertise the new AXA Defender RL as a secure lock. Second it mentions ‘the police discovering a new method of manipulating locks’. This ‘by the police discovered method’ happens to work on ‘some older models SL7, SL9 and 583′. Needless to say police did not discover this method. If they did it would (still) be a big secret. Instead of the police, the guild of bicycle thiefs discovered it. And police found out about it that way. I am real curious if other brands are affected by this too.
The AXA website covers the problem the same way as the ‘ad’ in the newspaper. Instead of making a serious effort to warn their customers they just mention on the side of the page: AXA advertisment, a new phase in security. Not something a concerned customer will click on straight away.
I am curious were this is heading to, as this story shows great resemblance to problems Kryptonite had in the US. Someone found out these locks could be opened in seconds, without any damage, using just a bic pen. That story started with some denial, but ended with Kryptonite publicly making a lock exchange offer. I am curious if AXA thinks it is going to get away with this, or if they are going to make the same offer to their customers as Kryptnite did….
I have know for at least a week there was a problem with the AXA locks, without knowing the details. My locksmith friends were swamped by kiddo’s asking them for SL7 blanks (really, for a science project at school sir). And when I visited the bicycle shop around the corner they told me quite some people had their bikes stolen….
The bicycle shop gave me two locks from their garbage bin for me to experiment on. It only took me a couple of minutes to figure it out and open them both. And since every bicycle thief in the Netherlands already knows how to open these locks, I do not mind sharing the trick with you (18 MB quicktime movie or youtube). And please do not complain about me teaching malicious people how to open locks. Complain to the manufacturer of the lock that makes locks ‘that are not worth a dime’ ….
Update 08-12: Abus does not only seem to have the same problem as AXA, it looks as if they also share the same marketing people. The head of the ad in the newspapers today says: New generation Abus bike locks. And it does mention some ABUS Protecta 48 and 4600 can be opened using an ‘illegal method’. Who’s next?