Picking a lock is not as simple as many may think. It is not Hollywood where something is simply inserted into a lock and it magically opens. Picking is an acquired skill set that takes much practice and very often can still be unsuccessful for a variety of reasons. It is one of many options when faced with a "lockout" situation. The addition of specialized "top pins" can make a low cost residential lock very difficult to pick. Certain locks require specialty picks or other associated devices that are prohibitive in cost for many local locksmiths. Most locksmiths will cease picking attempts beyond 5-15 minutes and resort to alternative methods.
Skills in "bypassing" a lock vary and very often one locksmith may possess a technique others do not. Such knowledge is simply discovered through time, experience or networking within their peer group. Bypassing a lockset in some cases is faster then picking or drilling. The choice to drill a lock open is an accepted trade practice and one that is taught in the industry. Drilling a lock open requires "strategic" drill points which are designed to prevent the least amount of damage possible to the lockset and mostly focuses on the cylinder alone.
In many cases this method can result in a low cost corrective repair, in some cases replacement of the hardware is required. Those who resort to drilling without troubleshooting or applying alternative options such as bypassing or picking first may lack access to the proper tools through supply distribution and may not even be practicing locksmiths although they are attempting to be.
Suppliers or Distributors require certain information and references from locksmiths who require such tools or training and many of the staff within the distribution channels were active locksmiths involved in their local network and know who is credible and competent. They will block access to possession of lock or bypass tools at their discretion.
As a consumer, should your locksmith recommend drilling your lockset to gain entry if you are locked out of your home or business, make sure you ask the following questions -
Is there an alternative bypass method?
Can you check other points of entry first?
Will it damage the lockset or lock body?
Is it repairable?
What is the cost of replacement?
Another question a consumer can ask is -
Will you use non-destructive methods of entry?
This sounds like an odd question when we speak of drilling something, but the question is something every professional locksmith understands. Strategic drilling, reduces or eliminates damage to the locket to such a degree that it can be consider non-destructive and which is either repairable or allows for parts replacement at a controlled cost, which the consumer is informed of prior to any drilling.
Professional locksmiths who understand consumer protection, customer care and door hardware will explain to the consumers all options and costs prior to any drilling. Members of he Society of Professional Locksmiths participate in continuing education and professional development programs to provide the consumer the best possible service.
Call your local SOPL Locksmith to receive professional advice and service.
What questions do think should be asked?
Tom Lynch, CRL