Working Hand In Hand

Feb. 1, 2012

A public relations firm sent me an E-mail which had a link to a YouTube site. I am not usually gullible enough to open unknown website pages, but since it was from a known source, I went to the designated YouTube web page. The YouTube video showed someone making a special shim from a piece of thin aluminum. The shim was then used to push the spring latch system back and quickly open a combination padlock.  

Shimming procedures may have been news to the public relations firm, but at least one locksmith tool company makes a similar shim which has been on the market for several years. Combination lock manufacturers have devised ways of defeating the shim such as installing a stepped notch in the spring latch which stops the shim from moving further to finally push the spring bolt back to unlock the padlock.

This is not the first time that a simple lock bypass method of some kind has been devised. Remember when plastic pens could be used to unlock bicycle locks?  How about the comb-shaped tool someone invented to pop open the spring retainer on a high security lock brand?  Another easy car opening method was to use auto opening tools which could be inserted under the vent window to unlock the car.  Another car lock bypass method involved pick keys. One of two different pick keys could unlock many double-sided car locks.  

Bypass methods can be sorted into two categories. If a lock mechanism can be bypassed quickly by inexperienced persons using few, if any, special tools, there is a problem. If the bypass method is effective only with special tools and training, the problem is less severe, but changes may still be required.

Most lock bypass methods have been invented by locksmiths. When a structure or vehicle must be unlocked, a locksmith must come up with some method to get in. While maintaining a balance between cost and results, manufacturers must then find ways to refine their lock products to deter new bypass methods while still maintaining a normal ease of operation.  

There are few losers in this process.  The public has access to more secure lock products and the manufacturer continues to upgrade and sell better, more secure lock products. Perhaps the locksmith is the closest thing to a loser, but don't despair. Service call charges can rise at the same rate as the degree of difficulty in opening.