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Lock and Key Examination and Analysis

We at Sterling / APG maintain a fully equipped lock and key laboratory. In recent years, it has become obvious in the industry that one of the most important items that were sometimes overlooked by technical firms when conducting a forensic vehicle origin and cause and / or theft examination of recovered vehicles was a microscopic examination of locks and keys. A microscopic examination of keys for a specific vehicle is as important to formulate an expert opinion on how the vehicle was last operated as the forensic examination of the subject vehicle itself.

The importance of key accountability is of paramount importance in determining if any other object other than a key of the correct type and with the correct bittings that correspond with the wafer tumbler configuration of the vehicle locks was used to either start and operate or bypass the vehicle locking system. This fact is especially important with a transponder-equipped vehicle. Each vehicle, of different manufacture, normally leaves the factory with a certain amount of keys programmed into the transponder system and a corresponding number of keys and remotes accompany the vehicle. Depending on the year, make and model vehicle, anywhere between 2 and 16 keys can be programmed into the system.

The following are just some of the information that can be obtained from keys and remote transmitters:

When shipping keys to our lab, always ship the keys protected and individually wrapped, and ship by Express mail delivery with tracking and delivery confirmation. Remember, when obtaining keys from a subject, ask for all of the keys and remotes.