Lock picking tools have made lots of noise with the theme “anybody can use lock picking tools to break into your house”. There are segments about lock picking on popular TV news shows, movies (example The Next Three Days) and websites scaring people like my Mom who called me after seeing something like this (news example HERE). For more information on lock picking, go to a older post found HERE.
I have acquired different lock picking tools over the course of my career but have not spent time mastering the art of lock picking. For those that don’t know, lock picking is an art similar to solving puzzles. There is a competitive lock picking scene that takes lock picking skills beyond the typical professional locksmith. My question however is regarding the average joe criminal as specified in some of the advertisements for lock picking tools. How easy is it to break into a house with commercial lock picking tools? Can anybody just buy a lock picking solution and walk into a stranger’s house? Lets find out.
The Door :
I had a friend volunteer his backdoor locks. His door has two locks which are a commercial Padlock and Deadbolt. The locks were installed by a licensed locksmith. Consider this a representation of a typical residential door.
Method 1: Using Standard Lock Pick Kit
I expected this to be the hardest method however was surprised to find this was actually the easiest. I timed myself and was able to break into the padlock within 5 minutes. The deadbolt took a little longer and required more force. I felt like I had to slowly knock the bolt over three or four times before I finally got it. The total time was just under 14 minutes. I opened the padlock in 2 minutes during my second attempt. Its actually pretty easy and silent. I used the hook piece to apply torque while using the pick’s bumpy side up to knock the pins in place. With practice I could probably open both locks under 2 minutes. With lots of practice, one could be like people in spy movies opening doors within seconds.
Method 2: Lock Pick Gun:
I was surprised by the difficulty of this method. I took around 6-8 minutes to unlock the padlock and almost 20 minutes to get the deadbolt to open. The tool is very loud and focuses on bumping the pins for a split second while torque is applied. The directions claim its a technique that is easy to mastered however it wasn’t that simple. I tried a few different pick lengths to avoid bumping the inner lock walls and barely improve my time during the second attempt. This tool works but its loud and requires practice to master.
Method 3: Bump Keys:
I’m not a fan of bump keys. I have problems getting this method to work. It took a long time to get the deadbolt to work and I gave up on the padlock. I tried two different manufactured sets and both were hard to use. I will say I don’t own a official bump hammer and plan to pick one so I can give bump keys a true test. I used multiple rubber tools to tap the keys and nothing worked liked they showcase on the web. Currently my vote is use something else however I plan to try again once I have the official bump hammer.
So the lessons learned are these tools work, they are pretty easy to use and the best tools are the old school manual picks. What can you do about this? Well my buddy just had his locks changed by a certified locksmith so “new” isn’t always better. My suggest is looking into bump proof locks (Medeco, Mul T Lock, or ASSA) which cost more but protect you from bump based locking picking threats. Also layered security is always a good idea aka alarm systems and home defense tools. I hate to say it but the saying “locks keep the honest people out” is pretty much true. It doesn’t require much to bypass the typical commercial door lock.