How to Break into a zippered suitcase with a pen
March 4, 2011 12:25 PM   Subscribe

Stunningly easy way of breaking into and then resealing a locked suitcase. A little harder: How to open a padlock with a beer can shim. Or do it without tools: Opening a master lock. For that oops moment: How to get into your car when you've locked your keys inside.

For the hotel room: Unlock the sliding chain lock with a rubber band. The bicycle: How to crack a combination bicycle lock. Then of course, there is the notorious bump key(wiki). And for the skinny on how locks work, Locksport's amazing beginner guide, Locksport International Guide to Lockpicking. The Locksport guide is probably the clearest and well-written lockpicking intro since this old classic. Previously.
posted by storybored (52 comments total) 104 users marked this as a favorite
 
And another previously on the Medeco lock.
posted by storybored at 12:29 PM on March 4, 2011


"I'm a locksmith. And, I'm a locksmith."
posted by mosk at 12:30 PM on March 4, 2011 [28 favorites]


Wait, so to unlock my car, I need a piece of metal, like the one that holds up the hood of my car, but in order to get under the hood, I need to unlock ... wait....
posted by crunchland at 12:32 PM on March 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Why, thank you life hacker. Yes I am in the UK and I did want to be redirected to the front of the UK site instead of visiting the url I foolishly clicked on.

Christ, I hate web developers. And I am one.
posted by sodium lights the horizon at 12:34 PM on March 4, 2011 [15 favorites]




...can't forget the Kryponite fiasco too: Open a fancy ass bike lock with a bic pen.
posted by storybored at 12:41 PM on March 4, 2011


Wow, that "unlocking your car door" method as shown in the video is soooo convenient. I always carry a wedge and a very long metal rod around with me.
posted by NoMich at 12:42 PM on March 4, 2011


#27 from "Everything I Need to Know I Learned from Dungeons and Dragons": Always carry a 10-foot pole so you can unlock your car door. Don't forget the wedge!
posted by m@f at 12:46 PM on March 4, 2011


NoMich: Wow, that "unlocking your car door" method as shown in the video is soooo convenient. I always carry a wedge and a very long metal rod around with me.

I know. Who has those kind of tools? Oh right, repo men (and repo women).
posted by filthy light thief at 12:47 PM on March 4, 2011


I'm guessing the old-fashioned jimmy bar that slides down next to the window doesn't work anymore, huh?

You can tell it's been a while since I locked my keys in my car.
posted by steambadger at 12:51 PM on March 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I once did the padlock trick at a party when I was way too drunk. Everybody was so impressed and I felt great.

The next day I woke up covered in cuts from trying to ripping a beer can in half.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 12:54 PM on March 4, 2011


UGH *trying to rip.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 12:54 PM on March 4, 2011


Wait, so to unlock my car, I need a piece of metal, like the one that holds up the hood of my car, but in order to get under the hood, I need to unlock ... wait....

Because no other cars exist that you can use the same item from?
posted by Threeway Handshake at 12:56 PM on March 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


I spent a lot of time learning and getting quite good at lockpicking, though I always struggled with certain kinds of locks.

Then I discovered that between a halligan bar, an angle grinder, and a couple of feet of det-cord, the difficulty level really didn't seem to matter so much anymore.

Of course, no one asks me to get them in their house when they're locked out anymore either, so it's got that going for it as well.
posted by quin at 12:59 PM on March 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


Because no other cars exist that you can use the same item from? --- So you're suggesting I break into them in order to unlock my own car?
posted by crunchland at 1:05 PM on March 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I used to live in a nice old apartment complex with a brand new laundry charge-card system. Since they had a Big Metal Box Of Money sitting around, they decided to put a lock on the door. It was a five-button combination lock and when you punched in 1-3-5 the thing was supposed to unlock.

It never did, though, and eventually I added a length of galvanized wire to the laundry kit, in the basket with the soap and the stupid card. This is how I learned that nobody will say anything to a determined-looking woman toting a basket of wash and jimmying a lock.
posted by cmyk at 1:15 PM on March 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


I think the suggestion is that you ask someone to borrow it from their car.
posted by soelo at 1:16 PM on March 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Locked out? Fubar!
posted by zippy at 1:17 PM on March 4, 2011


I've stopped locking my luggage altogether after the TSA ruined two suitcases (one of mine, one of my father's).

They encountered my bags locked with those crummy little TSA-approved locks, and rather than cut those off, they just cut into the bags themselves.

Since then, I've just stopped locking any checked luggage altogether, and avoid packing anything of value in checked luggage. Not worth it.
posted by smitt at 1:20 PM on March 4, 2011


Because no other cars exist that you can use the same item from?

"Hey, buddy! I locked my keys in my car. Can I please take your car apart and use the pieces to break into my car?"

"Uh, no."

"Why not?"

"Go away."
posted by The World Famous at 1:20 PM on March 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


Has it occurred to anyone that you could lock your keys in your car in your own driveway, or at a friend's house, where you would conceivably have access to such tools?

Also, this is awesome. Every so often, I remember that I'd love to learn some lockpicking skills. Now I think I need to make a bump key to keep on my keychain.
posted by ixohoxi at 1:24 PM on March 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I locked my keys in my car last Friday as I was getting ready to unload for a gig. Kind of embarrassing. But AAA was there within 20 minutes with a slim jim. For free. We made the stage on time.
posted by monospace at 1:25 PM on March 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


The chain-lock thing is kinda cool, but I haven't seen one of those in a hotel for ages. They're mostly those swinging lever types now that you need to pull away from the door to open.
posted by valkyryn at 1:37 PM on March 4, 2011


Now I think I need to make a bump key to keep on my keychain.

Bump keys are indeed a bit of magic, but you'll only be able to open locks that the key on your keychain fits into (the same brand). And if the cops see it and recognize what it is, you'll likely get into some trouble.
posted by quin at 1:41 PM on March 4, 2011




whoops, its in the post :(
posted by nathancaswell at 1:58 PM on March 4, 2011


The day I started going to the gym, I used a site like the linked one to crack my old Master padlock. The jolt of "Yeah, I'm an awesome hacker!" adrenaline was just what I needed to start exercising after several sedentary years.

It's a little too time-consuming to make a profitable business of, but I've always thought you could do a fun fundraiser for a school trip or something by getting gyms to donate their lost padlocks, having the kids crack them, and then selling them with the combinations taped on.
posted by roll truck roll at 2:11 PM on March 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


at summer school, a friend was late for class, he was so stoned he locked his keys in his car.
School loudspeaker:

"Will the ownwer of the 1983 Century go to the parking lot, your car is running"

(had him unlocked in 2 minutes)
posted by clavdivs at 2:23 PM on March 4, 2011



Christ, I hate web developers. And I am one.


The only sin committed by a web developer here is to have insufficient authority to say 'no' to the marketing asshole who asked for the site to behave that way.
posted by Space Coyote at 2:30 PM on March 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


@Space Coyote - They still convict people of murder for being there when somebody else pulls the trigger.

This is *just* like that.

Hopefully with similar results.
posted by Celsius1414 at 2:41 PM on March 4, 2011


They still convict people of murder for being there when somebody else pulls the trigger.

Yes, but that's because of a specific legal provision called the felony murder rule, which makes any participant in a felony criminally liable for any deaths that occur during or in furtherance of that felony.
posted by The World Famous at 2:46 PM on March 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


The only sin committed by a web developer here is to have insufficient authority to say 'no' to the marketing asshole who asked for the site to behave that way.

And yet both the developer and the marketer are paid out of advertising revenue, and advertisers are more likely to pay for local rather than overseas page views. I don't like ads very much and far prefer paying a signup or subscription fee for a small number of quality websites like MeFi, but it seems rather unfair to call the marketing person an asshole for bringing in the money that pays the developer.
posted by anigbrowl at 2:52 PM on March 4, 2011


quin: Then I discovered that between a halligan bar, an angle grinder, and a couple of feet of det-cord, the difficulty level really didn't seem to matter so much anymore.

Forcing entry with a halligan bar and a K-tool. You can see why quin doesn't get asked to help out anymore :) It's not lockpicking so much as lockplucking.

Also: Halligan bar demo.
posted by storybored at 2:59 PM on March 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


it seems rather unfair to call the marketing person an asshole for bringing in the money that pays the developer.

It's fair and just to call someone an asshole for hurting web users' ability to get to information. You can both take an action to maximize revenue to a site and be a shortsighted, end-user hostile asshole.

Try being outside everyone's target demographic for a while if that seems hyperbolic.
posted by Space Coyote at 3:13 PM on March 4, 2011


fubar will get you a burglar tool conviction. Spark plug and tweezers will do for 95% of car "lock-out" needs.
posted by clavdivs at 3:31 PM on March 4, 2011


*Do not attempt this at home or in public.
IMNYPT
posted by clavdivs at 3:35 PM on March 4, 2011




It's fair and just to call someone an asshole for hurting web users' ability to get to information. You can both take an action to maximize revenue to a site and be a shortsighted, end-user hostile asshole.

Information which web users receive for free, or at worst for the cost of being slightly distracted by the accompanying advertising, which is what pays for it. I'm not seeing the great moral crime here, or what's so awful about redirecting people towards the nearby distribution point. Most of the time this makes the information cheaper, faster and more accessible, but I suppose you can't please everyone.

Try being outside everyone's target demographic for a while if that seems hyperbolic.

I am in many respects, just not geographically.
posted by anigbrowl at 3:56 PM on March 4, 2011


or what's so awful about redirecting people towards the nearby distribution point.

People aren't being redirected to the article on a .uk (or in my case .au) version of the site. They are being redirected to the front page because their redirection stuff is broken. I'm guessing 90% of people then did what I did after I found myself not looking at the article I expected, they closed the tab and left lifehacker completely, presumably this doesn't help their advertising revenues. Now if they had instead redirected me to this .au version of the article, then no problem at all.
posted by markr at 5:02 PM on March 4, 2011


Exactly as Markr says - it's not the UK redirect that's the problem as such, it's the fact that the redirect breaks along the way. Interestingly, it's probably because lifehacker is using that annoying "href anchor as a page reference" bollocks while uk.lifehacker is using proper urls.

And I can't see any reason why it should be done either. The content didn't appear to be any different between the sites, and advertising is location targeted without having to switch the subdomain.
posted by sodium lights the horizon at 5:16 PM on March 4, 2011


How to break into your own car, when you lock your keys inside:

1. Buy a cheapo keysafe.

2. Locate a spot on the car frame facing upwards - that is, a surface easily reachable from the edge of the car, that has its top surface accessible. Much of your car frame fits this description.

3. Clean it off. It has probably collected a fair bit of road grime.

4. Using a 2-part epoxy* like JB Weld, glue the keysafe to the top surface of the frame (obviously with the keysafe sliding door at the top).

5. After it cures, insert spare key.

6. When locked out, remember the key.

Ta-dah! While I wouldn't use it on a crowded street in my daily parking spot, the odds of someone accidentally finding this spare key on the outside of your car, easily reachable without even climbing underneath are far less than the odds of someone piping your car lock or driver's window in the first place.
posted by IAmBroom at 5:29 PM on March 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


First, I bought the special TSA locks, since, you know, it's important that the very people I'm trying to protect my valuables from be able to open my bag at a moments notice. Except, for the last three years, I've been told not to lock my bag. When I did, I had to go through a separate line where the opened my bag, and searched through the entire thing. That's no longer an option, now, and I've been ordered to unlock, and leave unlocked, my suitcase.

Meanwhile, reports of luggage handlers stealing all kinds of shit are all over the news. I love travelling by plane, don't you?
posted by Ghidorah at 5:33 PM on March 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


The chain-lock thing is kinda cool, but I haven't seen one of those in a hotel for ages. They're mostly those swinging lever types now that you need to pull away from the door to open.
posted by ceribus peribus at 6:12 PM on March 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


Last comment because it's turning into a derail: it's not that I think this is a good way to implement redirects or any of that, but that a bad implementation of a reasonable concept isn't a good excuse to get a hate-on for people who work in marketing. I don't work in or love marketing, but as far as sites like these go, the people who do are just trying to bring home the bacon so all the employees can get paid. Calling them assholes for that is peurile.
posted by anigbrowl at 6:29 PM on March 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think it's perfectly reasonable to hate marketers but we can likely blame the designers for the broken links on the gawker sites. Just delete the #! from the url and it should take you to the article. This page explains why they broke their own links and why it was a stupid design.
posted by Occam's Aubergine at 7:27 PM on March 4, 2011


On a slightly more abstract level, those five-button electronic locks you see on cars? Twenty minutes maximum. Via the other good website.
posted by eritain at 7:34 PM on March 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


How to crack a Master Lock combination in 100 tries.

I found that over-designed and impossible to follow.
posted by Ratio at 8:48 PM on March 4, 2011


Meanwhile, reports of luggage handlers stealing all kinds of shit are all over the news. I love travelling by plane, don't you?

TSA inspection agents are in a perfect position to relieve you of small, high-value items. They're supposedly monitored by camera, but anything that can be vanished by prestidigitation is vulnerable. I know more than one person who found a TSA inspection notice in place of a valuable.

One of my family members had an overpriced LED flashlight lifted from her case during an inspection. She went through the claims process, which is a byzantine mess designed to obviate any responsibility on their part. She was only compensated after submitting the claim a third time after contacting a US senator she happens to be on a first name basis with.

Anyone without that kind of clout can forget it. They can rob you, they can molest you, and they can detain you indefinitely. The TSA is as unaccountable as any petty bureaucracy you'd find in a fascist state or banana republic.
posted by clarknova at 10:42 PM on March 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


couple of feet of det-cord
heh, that is banging the box.

posted by clavdivs at 3:43 AM on March 5, 2011


"But AAA was there within 20 minutes with a slim jim. For free. We made the stage on time."

monospace - we once had a similar incident: Our bass player was supposed to meet us at a town 90 min east of the previous night's gig, where he had to stop and do something during the day. On his way out of town he stopped for a car wash. It was winter, and on the way out of the carwash he hit a little patch of ice and slid off the pavement. No problem, he thought, so he put the car in gear and got out to push it up the height of the pavement. Distressingly, the car thought he was still inside, and locked all the doors. What to do, with the car sitting there with the wheels turning on the ice.

So he calls CAA, and the guy comes out, fiddles with the slim jim for a while, and opens the door. Big relief! Now the bass player still has 90 minutes to make the gig. Except that the slim jim is stuck in the door, and the CAA guy won't let him drive away with it, because HE MIGHT USE IT TO BREAK INTO SOMEONE'S CAR. Eventually the guy saw the light and buddy showed up at the gig with the slim jim duct-taped to his window. Only 30 minutes late, and the people didn't seem to mind.

Weirdly, when we got stopped by the cops on our way to the hotel after the gig, they didn't say anything about the slim jim, which was probably just as well.
posted by sneebler at 11:27 AM on March 5, 2011


"Hey, buddy! I locked my keys in my car. Can I please take your car apart and use the pieces to break into my car?"

It must be horrible to not have any friends.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 12:44 PM on March 5, 2011


I think my brother is still mad at me for unlocking his car 20 years ago. He had tried for hours with a bent hanger. I asked to try as I had never done it before. *click chunk* And it was done in one try.

Moral of the story? Ask your sister to help.
posted by deborah at 3:42 PM on March 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


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