How to Pick a Lock But Not Like Bad Santa Did

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I’ll be 100% honest: I’ve never really known how to pick a lock successfully. It’s always something I’ve attempted to do (for fun with my friends, we’ve all taken attempts at doing  it – I’ve never legitimately tried to break in anywhere or into anything), but I never actually took the time to look up how to do it, thinking it would always come naturally to me like it seems to every single action hero or criminal mastermind in the movies. So after actually taking some time today and researching the right methods and ways in which to pick a lock with a bobby pin, I’ve come to some conclusions. By following these steps and practicing them, you can learn how to pick a lock like a pro.

What to do if you have a tension wrench…

1. You’ll want to take the bobby pin that you have and snap it in half at the place where it normally bends. All you’ll have to do is use one half of the bobby pin to pick the lock

2. You’ll want to place the tension wrench into the bottom part of the lock. By putting some pressure on it with your thumb, you’ll stabilize it.

3. Now, this is when you insert the pick into the top part of the lock. Then you’re going to do two things: wiggle and push. You’ll want to wiggle the pick in the top part of the lock, while also pushing the tension wrench in the direction that the lock would normally open in. If the key to this door turns to the right, push it to the right. If you typically turn the key to the left, push the tension wrench to the left.

4. Keep wiggling the pick into the top until the lock opens, which should only be a couple of seconds. If for some reason the lock won’t open, you’ll need to reposition the pick until you find the “sweet spot.”

What to do if you don’t have a tension wrench…

1. First things first, you’re going to need to make yourself a kind of homemade tension wrench out of a large bobby pin.  Snap the bobby pin in half like you would if you were creating a pick and then bend the bottom part of the pin until a 90 degree angle is made. Keep in mind, though, that while this will most likely work, it’s going to be a heck of a lot less stable than having an actual tension wrench.

2. It’s time to make your pick now. You’ll snap a bobby pin in half again, and then bend it just a little bit at its center. This will create better grip for you.

3. This part can be tricky. Put your crafted “tension wrench” into the bottom of the lock and make sure that its handle is pointing in the direction in which the lock typically opens in. Like I said before in the last set of steps, turn your key right – make sure the handle is then pointing right, and if you turn your key left, then the handle should point left.

4. Push down on the “wrench” with your thumb, not too hard, but still applying pressure. Then you’ll insert the pick into the top of the lock and continue to wiggle it until the lock becomes undone.

By following those steps, you’ll have the best chance possible to to truly master picking locks. The most important thing you want to keep in mind is to not get too discouraged or frustrated if you have trouble at first. It takes a lot of time, effort, and practice to learn how to pick a lock like a pro. And just like you, I hope someday that I’ll be able to do it, too.

Photo by David Silverman/Getty Images

Chris is a graduate of Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia, where he majored in English and FIlm. He has been writing for TVOvermind and Uncoached for two years and has written about numerous different television shows and pop culture topics. Contact him through Twitter (@ckinger13)
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