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Why All Locks Can Be Picked

May 4, 2016

Locks Can Be Picked


It is always assumed that soon after human beings had something that they wanted to keep safe, they have had locks to do just that. Locks are mentioned in ancient texts like the bible, and are even seen in some of the most ancient architecture from around the world.

The first lock patents were awarded in England as early as 1774, while in the US they were awarded soon after independence in 1790. The industrial revolution also led to a rise in the number of locks and lock makers on the market. Many of the companies that made locks during the 1800s would market their locks aggressively to show how safe they made your property, using catchphrases like “The Magic Infallible Bank Lock” to help sell their products.

Therefore, it is no wonder that the first thing many people think when they purchase a new lock is that they are making themselves and their property safer, because they are finally locking out the bad guys. Well, that may be the truth in many cases, but nothing will stop a determined thief from gaining access to your property, regardless of the locks that you use.


Weaknesses Eventually Surface

There are many lock manufacturers out there that praise their locks, saying that they cannot be picked or broken into, yet every day these companies are proven wrong. Yes, there are some locks that cannot be picked for a while, especially when new technology is utilized. However, in time, they all expose weaknesses that can be exploited, and often times they are.

For instance, there are many kinds of locks on the market today, from Deadbolts to Padlocks to Electronic locks that are slowly starting to replace every other lock you can get. At one time or another, these locks were all marketed as being infallible in one way or another but in time they have all proven to be vulnerable.


Deadbolts and Bump Keys

One of the best examples of this is deadbolts, which for decades have been called some of the most secure locks you can get. They are indeed very secure, so much so that they are some of the most common locks on external doors around the world.

However, one reason why they are so popular is because they are hard to pick, but not impossible to bypass. There are many ways that these locks can be bypassed, from the standard lock picking set that you can buy online for as little as $5, to the bump keys set that used to be exclusive to locksmiths but can now be purchased by anyone relatively inexpensively.


Pins that Tumble in 3D

Another good example is pin tumbler locks that were all the rage in the middle of the 20th century. However, towards the end of the 60s, law enforcement started noting an increase in break-ins that showed no sign of forced entry. This was mainly because there was no key control, but also because burglars had learned how to bypass them.

The answer came from a company called Medco that created a 3D pin tumbler system that not only relied on the height of the pins, but also their rotation. Fast forward a few years, and Medco had to go back to the drawing board because their someone had figured out how to bypass their locks.


Unreliable Padlocks

Padlocks, though ancient, have always held some sort of appeal, and even the most flimsy versions of these items are used to help keep property safe. However, they are some of the most ineffective locks you can get, and are also some of the easiest to bypass.

Padlocks can not only be picked easily (you could even use a paper clip), they are also some of the easiest locks to break. In fact, padlocks are so bad at keeping things safe that even the TSA which provides you with a list of ‘Approved Luggage Locks’ is looking to revise their recommendations due to, among other things, how unreliable the TSA recognized locks are.


Flimsy Electronics

However, perhaps the most shocking case of these easy to bypass locks is the Electronic lock, which is growing in popularity every day. There are electronic locks everywhere, on buildings, hotel room doors, front doors, garages, even safes and padlocks are going electronic. Seeing as technology has a major role to play in whether a lock can be bypassed or not, you would think that this would be a good thing, right?

That is where you could be wrong, as was recently proven by a popular Canadian locksmith. He took a mere 6 seconds to open an electronic lock on a safe, with only a sock and a magnet for help. It turns out the same trick works on almost any electronic lock, and all you need is time and a little patience to pull it off.

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Locks are Deterrents

Throughout this article, examples have been given on just how easy it is to bypass locks, but the real question is WHY? Why make it so easy? Well, the answer is because locks are not meant to be foolproof, but rather, they are meant to serve as deterrents to anyone who would like to gain access to areas where they are not welcome.

Even some lock makers have admitted that locks are not meant to be impossible to bypass, instead, they are meant to “show you a sign of forced entry”. In fact, locks are rated by how long they can hold out against a range of attacks, not by whether they can keep an intruder out for good.

Besides, these days, with comprehensive insurance, whatever you would like to protect is replaceable. The only items that may seem irreplaceable are sentimental items, and with those, the only thing that cannot be replaced is the emotional attachment to the object.

Therefore, though you may not get the perfect lock, it is worth it to get a good lock, even if it is just to prove that someone forcibly accessed your property.