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which are the hardest locks to open?

Information about locks themselves. Questions, tips and lock diagram information should be posted here.

Moderators: zeke79, keysman

which are the hardest locks to open?

Postby gumb » Thu Apr 30, 2009 9:39 pm

Hello

I'd like to apologise in advance if this is a question that gets asked a lot, I tried a search but 'hardest lock to pick' got a lot of responses.

I'm new to the forum, and know absolutely nothing about locks. I'm looking to buy a lock for my workshop and thought this would be the best place to get impartial advice on which locks are the most difficult to open as I've seen videos of some very expensive locks being opened in minutes on the web. I'm wondering if you could give the names of maybe 4 or 5 locks that even the most experience locksmith is going to find difficult.

Thanks

Rob
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Re: which are the hardest locks to open?

Postby gumb » Thu Apr 30, 2009 9:43 pm

Oh, I should have said padlocks.

Thanks
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Re: which are the hardest locks to open?

Postby datagram » Thu Apr 30, 2009 11:55 pm

There is no real answer, but many would probably agree that an Abloy Protec padlock would be considered one of the most difficult. You also have to remember that security is not just picking (or bumping) resistance, but also how the padlock is secured, the door/gate/windows/walls; every components contributes to or reduces your security.

dg
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Re: which are the hardest locks to open?

Postby mcm151201 » Fri May 01, 2009 4:58 am

Short list of high quality locks:

Abloy Protec
Evva MCS
Assa Twin
Schlage Primus
Corbin Emhart
Mul-T-Lock
Medeco

Some of those, like Medeco and Mul-T-Lock, are certainly pickable but still high quality locks. Others, like Assa and Primus, have some geographic exclusivity weaknesses. I would say the top two (Protec and MCS) hold the must prestige in my opinion.

All of those are considered "high security locks" so locksmiths aren't really going to bother picking them. Now crazy lockpicking hobbyists on the other hand... :lol:
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Re: which are the hardest locks to open?

Postby adrenalynn » Fri May 01, 2009 6:06 am

I'd be a bit more blunt [it's a personality failing... :oops: ]. I've been paid to bypass a lot of locks, many non-destructively, and picking in the wild leaves one horribly exposed and vulnerable. Any one of the locks listed will fall in an instant to a gas powered rescue saw. (Kinda noisy though).

For my money, though, whatever you have the padlock attached to is what I'm likely to attack (pending an assessment like Datagram suggested). Whatever hasp, clasp, or attachment it's hooked up to is likely to fall given an adequate tug on an adequate wrecking bar. And I also have a 4-6' chunk-o'-steel to bean anyone that looks at me funny for doing it. [shiver]

It's a rare case where the padlock itself gets attacked, and let's face it - the person that wants your stuff isn't going to be able to pick a $35 "high security" Master Lock given a week of instruction and all night to do the deed. And they're not going to have the tools to bypass a shrouded Master Lock even destructively. Save your money and secure the premise. Get a monitored alarm system. Secure the valuables inside the secured premise. Don't rely on any padlock as anything more than a short-term deterrent.
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Re: which are the hardest locks to open?

Postby unlisted » Fri May 01, 2009 6:28 am

adrenalynn wrote:. Any one of the locks listed will fall in an instant to a gas powered rescue saw. (Kinda noisy though).


It's a rare case where the padlock itself gets attacked, and let's face it - the person that wants your stuff isn't going to be able to pick a $35 "high security" Master Lock given a week of instruction and all night to do the deed. And they're not going to have the tools to bypass a shrouded Master Lock even destructively. Save your money and secure the premise. Get a monitored alarm system. Secure the valuables inside the secured premise. Don't rely on any padlock as anything more than a short-term deterrent.


Heh, ANY lock will fail to that type of "destructive entry"


And an alarm is just another deterrent, not a "sure stop" to someone getting in. Alarms go off near my city all the time, and no one gives a crap about it. Yes, there is the option to have police or security to respond to an alarm, but I don't think I will scare anyone with the response times. (and if you have false alarms ever, the police will NOT respond, or will charge quite a bit of $$$ each time)

Nothing is foolproof. If someone wants in, they will get in. Having a bump resistant/pick resistant lock will help more so than a generic lock.
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Re: which are the hardest locks to open?

Postby gumb » Fri May 01, 2009 6:41 am

Thanks everyone, for taking the time to reply, it's all very useful. The workshop is in my backyard and I'd been planning to set up some kind of alarm like Adrenalynn said, just to wake me up if anything is going on out there. I think I resigned to the idea that if they want to get in they will a long time ago, I just don't want to make it easy for an opportunist or someone who doesn't really know what they're doing.

I'll check out some of the locks mentioned.

Regards

Rob
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Re: which are the hardest locks to open?

Postby adrenalynn » Fri May 01, 2009 4:13 pm

unlisted wrote:Heh, ANY lock will fail to that type of "destructive entry"


Totally agreed. And that was my point. Whether it's a cheap lock or some ungodly expensive thing, if someone takes a cutoff saw to it, kiss it goodbye...

And an alarm is just another deterrent, not a "sure stop" to someone getting in. Alarms go off near my city all the time, and no one gives a crap about it. Yes, there is the option to have police or security to respond to an alarm, but I don't think I will scare anyone with the response times. (and if you have false alarms ever, the police will NOT respond, or will charge quite a bit of $$$ each time)


Yup - but they're every bit as important as the lock. If you don't buy a few hundred dollar lock, but rather one that costs in the 1/10th neighborhood - then you can buy a monitoring service for a year with the money you save. That way, you have both.

Nothing is foolproof. If someone wants in, they will get in. Having a bump resistant/pick resistant lock will help more so than a generic lock.


As my daddy was fond of saying: "Locks keep honest people honest".

Where you and I disagree is in the "pick resistant lock will help more" statement. How many people pick their way into your shed to steal tools that they're then going to fence? Zero? It's like expecting they'll be using a glass cutter on the window. Common thieves are stupid and lazy by definition. They're not investing their lives in learning a trade/art/skill that will benefit them commercially, and that includes picking. It's impractical anyway. For the average skill level, it takes too long, leaves you too exposed, and costs money for tools and skill development.

Leaving all that aside, when I walk past something that is secured by a top-grade lock, it's like a neon sign to me. I always thing "if I ever decide to be a Bad Girl, I'm coming back here!" Nothing screams "I have something to protect that is worth money" like a rare high-end lock. Of course, that's not the case for the common thief. It's only the case for someone with the skills, tools, and impetus. So the very people you want to defend against (the smallest threat in my personal and professional opinions) are the ones you're alerting to presumed contained value.

There's a time and place for high-end locks. I argue the shed isn't one of them. And a padlock probably won't ever be. As an aside, I frequently see the results of putting Medeco and similar locks on parking meters. No one is trying to pick 'em - before or after. With cheap locks, they punched 'em out on the spot, ~$200 damage + coin contents. NOW They just take the whole darned meter and drill it at their leisure - $3000+ damage + coin contents. Not a big win there! ;)
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Re: which are the hardest locks to open?

Postby unlisted » Fri May 01, 2009 6:05 pm

adrenalynn wrote:
Where you and I disagree is in the "pick resistant lock will help more" statement. How many people pick their way into your shed to steal tools that they're then going to fence? Zero? It's like expecting they'll be using a glass cutter on the window. Common thieves are stupid and lazy by definition. They're not investing their lives in learning a trade/art/skill that will benefit them commercially, and that includes picking. It's impractical anyway. For the average skill level, it takes too long, leaves you too exposed, and costs money for tools and skill development.



I still disagree. You have no idea how many crimes are committed with burglary tools VS. someone just "smashing and grabbing" around here. Guess our (local to me) Canadian criminals got smart a while ago- it causes lots less noise, and is not as visually eye catching, seeing someone "fumble with their keys for a minute" (when they are actually picking/bumping the lock)
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Re: which are the hardest locks to open?

Postby adrenalynn » Sat May 02, 2009 12:53 am

Ok - we can agree to disagree.

Now bumping, I agree with. More than a few thieves around these parts have figured bumping out.
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Re: which are the hardest locks to open?

Postby tballard » Sat May 02, 2009 1:45 am

adrenalynn wrote:Ok - we can agree to disagree.

I think everyone is in agreement that locks are a "deterrent" not a 100% infallible solution. Bruce Scheiner has an excellent concept called an "attack tree". (I don't know if it's original, but he has the best phrasing of it)

Criminals are going to take the path of less resistance and highest reward. If you have a good lock and door, they will throw a brick through your window. If you have good doors and windows, they'll cut through the roof. Once that gets to hard, they will fall back to waiting in the the shadows and then putting a gun to your head and having you open the door.

Heck, I know of cases where criminals have walked up to the front door of a house in the middle of the day and cut a man-sized hole in it with a saber saw. In the middle of the day, few people are home, and the ones that are generally assume their neighbors are having some sort of work done.

Anyway, back to the OP's question: The best lock for you is one which isn't flashy, and isn't complete crap. Nothing more than one or two grades above what you would find in a hardware store. You're not at risk from lockpicking ninjas, you're at risk from not-so-bright criminals who see an opportunity.
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Re: which are the hardest locks to open?

Postby adrenalynn » Sat May 02, 2009 3:09 am

Absolutely, Bruce Scheiner has been a hero of mine forever (I started my career in COMSEC, worked on smartcards back when that was a big deal, encryption for card transaction, etc).

That's a key point in comsec - no matter how good your encryption is your physical security will fall. No matter how good your physical security is, your comsec will fall. :) It's a catch22. At some point someone just puts a gun to an employees head and demands their password, keys, combination, what-have-you. Path of least resistance is exactly what I was looking for, thanks! I think you hit the nail squarely on the head.

I also concur with your summary of the requirements for the OP's request. I'd have gone with "top quality hardware store lock", but I don't want to appear inflexible. :wink: I like shrouded locks because, in my experience, they really do discourage people wandering around with bolt-cutters - even when the bolt cutter _could_ be applied to the hasp. And I've seen numerous cases where I could break the hasp with a screw driver but the lock was mangled and eventually abandoned.

You owe me a new keyboard, btw. Darned lockpicking ninjas roaming the country-side unchecked! There should be a law! Quick! Write your representative now demanding the immediate outlawing of lockpicking ninjas! [giggle]
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Re: which are the hardest locks to open?

Postby adrenalynn » Sat May 02, 2009 3:15 am

I swear- I must be an idiot - I can't find the edit button...

Another key concept is the value of what you're protecting. Security is inversely proportional to convenience. How much inconvenience you have to put up with should be proportional to the value of what you're protecting. It doesn't make much sense to hire a team of counterninjas for a million dollars a year to protect something that costs $5 and is insured anyway. :wink:

Wow. I really have drug this far afield from the OP's original question haven't I? To the OP - sorry about that! :oops:
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Re: which are the hardest locks to open?

Postby sfi72 » Sat May 02, 2009 3:24 am

adrenalynn wrote:I swear- I must be an idiot - I can't find the edit button...

There isn't one.
<jkthecjer> this kwikset did not yield so easily
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Re: which are the hardest locks to open?

Postby tballard » Sat May 02, 2009 3:33 am

adrenalynn wrote:Absolutely, Bruce Scheiner has been a hero of mine forever (I started my career in COMSEC, worked on smartcards back when that was a big deal, encryption for card transaction, etc).

Heh, interesting to see we have similar backgrounds. I'm a crypto geek who spent a lot of the dot-com era doing PKI and smartcard stuff.
adrenalynn wrote:Security is inversely proportional to convenience. How much inconvenience you have to put up with should be proportional to the value of what you're protecting.

I completely agree, and I suspect it is our common background behind it. If you make a lock a pain in the ass to deal with, then users get lazy. Especially if they think it is overkill. How many safes are set to "day codes"? (i.e. all wheels set except the last one so it can be opened without dialing the whole combo) When something is a pain, user's hack around it.

I'd say this usually means a combo lock would be ideal for the OP, since if he's out in the yard, he doesn't need to carry keys around. Unfortunately, a lot of combo locks are pretty easily bypassed, and an increasing number of criminals know it. So.... with all that in mind, if it were my shed, I'd probably put a Brinks Shrouded on it. This is basically a rebranded American 5300, without rekey ability, and with possibly lower tolerances. On a good day these are a sub-10 second pick for me, but when I was starting they seemed insurmountably hard.
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