We lost one of our house keys the other day, so I decided that, in the interest of home security, we’d change all the locks, just in case. I called Jack The Locksmith, who showed up a couple of hours later and knocked on my door. I opened it and jokingly asked why, if he’s so good at his job, he didn’t just let himself in. Jack replied, “I can do that, but it would cost you extra.”
It took him about an hour to remove all the locks, put in new ones, and cut some spare keys for us. I didn’t observe everything he did, but it looked like the only tools this deadbolt MacGyver used were a screwdriver and half a wire hanger. It seemed on par with what you see private detectives using in a movie, the toolkit-in-a-vinyl-wallet with two small thin pieces of metal that manipulate the tumblers just so, until the door swings open.
I realized then that changing the locks on our house would keep us safe from most potential intruders, but we’d never be safe from the Jacks of the world. I know that he is licensed, bonded, and insured, but what’s to stop some young criminal-to-be from getting a job in a locksmith shop, learning the trade, and then using those skills to get into any building he wants whenever he wants? He’d never have to break a window and the cops would never see signs of forced entry. Worse, if he teamed up with someone who had learned the alarm business, they’d never have to worry about being discovered.
I didn’t mention any of this to Jack. He might charge extra for paranoia.
Updated at 7:30pm…Several readers have e-mailed to ask why I’m tipping criminals off to an easier way to commit their unlawful acts. I say, gimme a break. While many criminals are dumb, there are enough smart ones that they’ve no doubt thought of this on their own and, for all I known, followed this path already.
And then there’s this e-mail from Bob in Tampa:
You’re probably receiving similar letters already but on the off-chance you’re not, you need to know something about the illusion of security. You seem to think it necessary for a potential thief to apprentice for a locksmith to gain the required skills. In reality, I’d say many 15-year-olds probably already have a rudimentary ability to pick locks from all the YouTube videos on the topic. I’ve watched many of them and it really doesn’t seem very difficult for a moderately motivated person to pick most locks with a little help from YouTube university.
While I don’t think these videos should be banned, I do think the lock manufacturers should see it as a challenge to step up their game and make better locks. Unfortunately, this comes at a high cost. Anyway, look up “lockpicking” on YouTube search, you’ll be fascinated by what you find.
Bob’s right. I just checked YouTube and found 5,150 videos on lockpicking — at no extra charge.