My First Lock Picking Teacher

on August 15, 2009 in Misc

Great news!  After parkour class today I met a top-of-the-line lock picker, someone who knows the art as well as Layla.

But first let me summarize the class:

We really, really worked on jumping the vault boxes.  And I really, really still suck at jumping the vault boxes.

Anyway, after class I mentioned to one of the instructors that I’d overheard him saying something about lock pickers.  Of course he knew a few, it turned out.  (The rule seems to be that in any large group of Crazy Young Guys, one can find at least a couple excellent lock pickers.)  In fact, one of the best was hanging out in the gym’s lounge.

Chris was lying on the floor of the lounge with ice packs bracketing the calves of one leg while his right arm was taped up and nearly immobile.   Apparently during the National Parkour Jam a week earlier he’d dislocated his elbow and banged up his leg.  But he was still bright-eyed, very friendly, and happy to give me the basics.

He started by pulling out his own lock picking kit.  It was a small leather case with only a few tools in it, and the ones he recommended to me the most were the rake, the half diamond, the hook, and the torque.  He also pulled out a laptop and brought up two websites he highly recommended:    lockpicking101 and the MIT Guide to Lock Picking.  “Like, the MIT Guide is great,” he said; everything I need to know should be in there.

For half an hour, Chris showed me how he used the tools on padlocks and described the pins that were in the locks and in deadbolts; he talked about how to line up the pins and what I had to feel.  You have to develop serious sensitivity in your fingers, he advised.  Some people can do this in only days, but it took him a year to get really good at feeling those pins move.  In fact he was now so good he used to teach lock picking, and for the last six months he hadn’t bothered to carry a house key.  In one recent incident when he was locked out of a place, he picked his way past three deadbolt locks in ten minutes.

“And like these new hospital locks that are supposed to be unpickable?” He almost laughed.  “Totally pickable!”

Maybe I should now emphasize that Chris strictly avoids doing anything illegal.  As with many of his Crazy Young Guy colleagues, he only picks locks at home for the fun and challenge of it or when he’s locked out of his place.  It sounds funny, but there seems to be a code of ethics among guys like Chris that goes:  Dude! Like, picking a lock illegally is totally uncool.

Another word about Chris:  he’s a college student who in a couple days will be flying overseas for a year of studying abroad where he plans to become fluent in the local language.  He’s definitely no slacker.

But enough about lock picking for now.  In my next blog I’ll list more of Chris’s handy-dandy pointers and his advice regarding Layla’s own personal kit.

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