Consumer-grade padlocks aren’t all that good

Here’s one way to get through them, using equipment any moderately prepared intruder can carry with him in a backpack (like this example).

If you’ve got to secure something important, use a security-rated padlock rather than a general consumer-grade one – and even then, be aware that it can be defeated.  If it’s claimed to be unbreakable, don’t believe the claim;  and also consider that if the padlock resists penetration, its hasp and the door behind it may not.  I’ve been at more than one crime scene where a very expensive, highly-rated padlock was on the ground, still locked, with the hasp from which it had hung sawn in two on the door behind it.



  1. A surprising amount of padlocks can also be shimmed or otherwise bypassed, drilled, or raked. It's safe to assume most criminals won't care to learn to pick locks, but the above don't take much skill if any.

  2. Yeah, bolt cutters work on almost all padlocks actually. The tougher ones require larger bolt cutters which make them less concealable, but that's more of an inconvenience. A padlock that protects against this will make the shackle inaccessible. It also helps if it's not accessible to a pry-bar. A good example is the Rotalok, but you should get a locksmith to re-pin it with security pins, as I recall the core being vulnerable to picking.

  3. This guy will show you everything you need to know about opening padlocks and other locks. He's very watchable, has a pleasant voice, doesn't use annoying music (except in his title sequence) and has tons of video.

    Like all youtube channel pages, it autoplays his intro video.

    Learned a lot from this channel in the last week.


  4. A cordless angle grinder with a cut off blade is going to defeat any metal object it can access.

  5. All locks are pretty much a joke. Your lock is only as strong as what it's anchored to. You can have a deadbolt with an inch-thick bolt, but if it's anchored to a pine door frame, so what? One good kick can rip it free. Even a concealable foot-long prybar can defeat most locked doors. And how many residential doors are really solid? Most have ornamental wood panels less than a half-inch thick, set into 1-inch side and top rails. You can defeat those with the claw end of a hammer.

    Bike locks have a similar problem: how sturdy is the thing you've locked your bike to? I've seen bikes "locked" to bollards less than four feet tall. I've seen bikes locked to chain-link fence you could cut through with a decent pair of kitchen scissors.

  6. This conversation is just a version of "no obstacle is anything more than a delay unless it can be covered by fire".

  7. As raven says above, a cordless Dremel tool with a few cutoff wheels will defeat any padlock. I have done this when I lost my shed's padlock key, it took about 5 minutes.

    It is very quiet, too. And will fit in your jacket pocket.

    Unlike the movies, you can't effectively shoot them off with your revolver. A 12 gauge will do it, though with much more commotion.

  8. I see a padlock doing its job.

    Took more than a minute a minute of high-visibility activity to get through the lock. No lock does anything but buy you some time, and make it so that the person breaking in draws attention to themselves.

    My mom sold real estate from 1970 until her retirement last year, and I used to go around with her all the time as a kid, frequently getting into places where there was no lockbox or other way to access the house yet. It never took us more than a couple of minutes to find a way into any house we ever went to. Probably accessed over a hundred locked houses just when I was with her in the 70's and early 80's. She said in her entire career it never took her more than a couple minutes to get into any house. No one ever called the police, either. Not once. This is a 5-foot 4, now 75 year old woman. Go figure.


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