Do Burglars Pick Locks?

Do Burglars Pick Locks?

Although we see burglars picking locks on TV shows and movies all of the time, the real world tells us a different story.

How do most thieves get into homes or businesses when they want to steal something? They wait until no one is there before gaining unlawful entry through an open or unlocked door or window.

Since picking a lock requires a specific skill set to be successful, most burglars damage or remove doors and windows to gain entry when locked because it is faster and easier for them than using tools.

Don’t be fooled by what scriptwriters use for a dramatic effect. The people who buy lock picking tools most often are homeowners and professional service providers.

Why Don’t Burglars Pick Locks?

In 2019, law enforcement agencies reported over 1.1 million burglaries. That figure was 9.5% lower than the previous year, and it is down by almost 50% from 2010.

Less than 2% of burglaries involve shimming or picking a lock.

It’s important to remember that burglary and robbery are different. Burglars intentionally enter a property without the lawful owner's consent to commit a felony or intent to steal. Robberies occur when someone takes property from an individual or in the presence of its owner by threatening or using force.

Burglars pick homes that let them get in and out quickly. If they need to pick locks, it could be several minutes before they get past the first door. During that time, they’re exposed to the public, increasing their risk of discovery.


Man climbing through open window


Why spend ten minutes trying to pick a lock when a crowbar can pry open a door or window in under 60 seconds?

That's why most burglars check to see if windows or doors are open and unlocked. If the house or business is locked up tight, they'll move on to a more accessible property.

Should I Get a Lock Pick Set for Myself? 

As long as there have been locks, there have been people who embraced the challenge of defeating that tool. Even King Louis XVI was said to be an avid lock picker when he was the ruler of France in the 18th century.

Although some people see lock picking as a criminal skill, lock picking is actually made up of a supportive community of enthusiasts. Locksport involves bumping, picking, and other skills that can teach you how to defeat all forms of locks. It’s a unique way to work on your concentration and focus, especially if you love puzzles.

In many states, you don’t need to have a specialized license to work as a professional locksmith. As long as you have the skills and tools to help others (and a business license, of course), you can earn a modest living doing something you love.


Even if you don’t want to compete with others or start a business, lock picking is a life skill that can cheaply get you out of difficult situations. Instead of calling for an expensive emergency locksmith, you can grab your tools to do the work yourself.

Isn’t Owning a Lock Picking Set Illegal?

Although it is illegal to own lock picking tools in countries like Japan and Poland, it is not the way in most countries.

In most of the United States, owning locking picking tools is legal. You can even pick locks without getting into trouble, assuming that you have the owner’s permission to be performing that task.

Locksmith picking a door lock


That means you can have a neighbor ask you to pick their lock so that they can get the keys they locked in their house.

In some states, there are no specific laws that target lock picking. It is essentially legal because there aren’t any statutes governing the action or behavior.

If you live in Ohio, Mississippi, Nevada, or Virginia, owning lock picking tools does create more of a headache. You might need to counter the first impression with a law enforcement officer that you own “burglary tools.”

The caveat is in the intent. If your goal is to learn a new skill or have something available if you lock yourself out, it is perfectly legal in most states to own and use lock picking tools.

How Do I Get Started Picking Locks for Fun?

If you’d like to learn how to pick locks, our beginner’s resource guide takes you through everything you need to get started with this fun and challenging skill.

You can also snag out beginner lock pick set here

Lock picking tools don’t promote crime. What they offer is a practical way to help yourself, start a business, or join a supportive locksport community. Why not invest in a set today and join us?

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