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Kryptonite lock maker struggles to recover

Sat., Sept. 18, 2004

BOSTON — Bike lock maker Kryptonite struggled to reassure customers and protect its reputation on Friday following the disclosure that its famous U-lock can be opened by a ballpoint pen. Retailers swept the locks from their shelves.

Kryptonite said it will accelerate introduction of a pen-proof version of the vulnerable locks. In a statement, the company also said it will give owners of the flawed locks an upgrade “where possible,” though it offered few details.

A company spokeswoman did not return a call seeking comment Friday.

Paul Dickard, a spokesman for Kryptonite’s parent company, Ingersoll-Rand, said Kryptonite executives were working diligently to ease concerns but did not expect the problem to affect earnings. Kryptonite products account for less than 1 percent of the $10 billion in annual sales at Ingersoll-Rand, which makes other security products such as door locks.

A design flaw enables thieves to open Kryptonite U-Locks with the hollow shaft of a Bic pen. The pens can beat the tubular cylinders used in some Kryptonite locks, including the Evolution and KryptoLok series.

The company said it was upgrading the locks to a disc-style cylinder that is pen-proof and is already used in its top-of-the-line “New York” lock.

Attorney Marc Weber Tobias, a security expert, said Kryptonite should have been using its pen-proof design in all its locks.

“God forbid they should have figured it out earlier,” said Tobias, who notes the company will face claims from people who will say their bikes were stolen because of the faulty locks.


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