4/3/2010Master Key Unlocks Every Speed Camera in Belgium
Member of parliament bears the one key that rules all of the speed cameras in Belgium.
A single master key can unlock every roadside cabinet that controls a speed camera in Belgium, Verstrepen and Hermans reported on GunkTV last Sunday. The show's host, Jurgen Verstrepen, represents Antwerp in the Flemish Parliament for List Dedecker, a political party that espouses free market economic policy. Verstrepen picked up a key at a locksmith for 14 euros (US $19) and proceeded to unlock both Gatso and Traffipax brand speed camera control boxes. Both types of camera are in use in the United States.
"We received a tip for the broadcast that a speed camera could be rendered harmless with a simple key," Verstrepen said in a statement. "I found that the story is true. I have opened several control units myself."
The control boxes apparently use the same model of lock which can be ordered, with key, from any locksmith. Verstrepen did not identify the model number for the lock and key set, despite receiving hundreds of emails after the broadcast begging him to do so.
"It's unbelievable," Verstrepen said. "My front door at home is better protected than all the speed cameras and control boxes... I have proved that even the latest model opens with my key. It is inconceivable that the Flemish government would be so negligent and amateurish."
Once open, a speed camera or red light camera control box can be disabled by flipping off the power switch without causing any harm to the equipment that could bring vandalism charges. Less scrupulous individuals might even find access to manipulate the camera device's settings. Verstrepen said that he could, by posting the model number on his website, ensure that every speed camera in the country would be shut down within twenty-four hours.
Officials confirmed to Het Nieuwsblad that the cabinets do in fact use a single key for convenience, but they denied that this key was readily available.
In some cases, a key is not even needed to open a speed camera control box. Last year, the group CameraFraud.com photographed an automated ticketing machine in Mesa, Arizona that had been left wide open for at least five days. The device belonged to American Traffic Solutions, a company that last month was caught leaving behind documents and other materials in an abandoned office building with the doors left open.
View the video of speed cameras being unlocked with the master key (in Dutch with no subtitles):