Lockpicking Lawyer humiliates Schlage's "100% pick-proof lock"

Originally published at: Lockpicking Lawyer humiliates Schlage's "100% pick-proof lock" | Boing Boing


Exactly as advertised. What’s the problem? /s


Also to deter lazy, unskilled thieves (i.e., most of them).


Does it strike anyone else as a bad look that the drainage hole is conveniently slanted in the correct exploit direction and the little stamped baffle loses height for a fold-over screw hole on the same side that the casting of the lock body leaves a big gap; rather than next to the other screw, where the same sacrifice of height would have been irrelevant because the lock body protects the mechanism on that side?

I never feel entirely safe betting against some combination of incompetence and apathy; but having everything go wrong in one place(especially in the context of overall relatively high production values; this isn’t one where it’s just the case that all the tolerances are atrocious) looks disconcertingly like an intended bypass option rather than a mistake.


There has to be a way to open the lock if the electronics fail, and without the drain hole the only option would be to get a screwdriver and take the lock apart as the LPL does in the video.


I can certainly see the use case for a mechanical bypass that doesn’t require destroying an expensive lock; it just seems deeply slimy to implement one as an undocumented paperclip-hole and call the result ‘pick-proof’; rather than taking the more typical step of using a mechanical backup cylinder and being upfront about the risk that having a mechanical bypass presents and how much effort you put into mitigating it.

Edit: the one upside is that there does seem to be a switch on the inside part of the lock(visible around 2:46) that gets toggled when the latch changes state. Hopefully that at least means that the system will write a strongly worded log entry regarding being opened without a credential. Not ideal; but exposure to IT security standards has at least somewhat inured me to not being able to actually stop someone who knows what they are doing; but maybe being able to write a nice, verbose, postmortem if things going poorly goes well.


Thieves don’t pick locks. The lock is never the weak point in a house or business. It’s the door jam or window. A crowbar is fast, quiet, and low skill. Lock picking for illicit entry is a Hollywood myth and prepper fantasy.

Locks are not physical security, they are a social contract. It’s how we tell other people, “This belongs to someone, please do not take it”


It looked like the lock took batteries. What happens when they die and everybody is on the wrong side of the door?


The two metallic contacts on the outside of the lock can be used to temporarily feed it with a 9v battery.

(vendor page expand “electrical specifications”)


There is a second half, which arguably bridges ‘physical security’ and ’ social (sometimes also legal) contract’: locks encourage destructive entry techniques that leave evidence that is usually accepted both as a sign that someone violated the social contract with respect to taking things; and that the person whose things were taken was being responsible enough that it took a crowbar to get to their stuff.

That doesn’t make them any better at physical security than a serialized zip tie; but if you want your insurer to not jerk you around until the heat death of the universe; or the police to conclude that it was, in fact, a burglary rather than you bothering them with tales of disappearing household items; having a theatrically splintered door jam doesn’t hurt at all.


This looks like such an easy fix that Schlage could probably roll out a new iteration with little to no difficulty or expense and with no loss of function in the drain hole. If that back plate simply had a tab bent inward toward the mechanism, it would block access to the sliding mechanism. Since it’s already a stamped piece, this should be trivial. And any building staff sufficiently handy could mod them with a dremel and a vise grip on 15 mins (cut two notches and bend the damn thing far enough to block the hole).


But that would add to the cost. True, it would be a trivial amount, but that’s exactly the kinds of nitpicking cost cutting that designers and manufacturers do. Save 1/1-0 of a penny per lock, and pretty soon you’ve got enough to cover an exec’s bonus. Who care if somebody’s stuff gets nicked as a result.


I worked as a commercial locksmith for about 15 years in 2 provinces. There was only one instance of a burglar that picked locks that I encountered - it was in Vancouver. It was quite serious because he’d been going through the apartment tower and eventually stabbed a tenant quite seriously. They were good locks and he obviously had reasonable picking skills.
Part of my current profession is closing all the likely loopholes my clients may have in their physical and operational security. Reinforced doors, frames, walls and high security locks can get you only so far. A determined and well prepared adversary can use enough force and technology to defeat any opening. The goal is to make them take so long that a professional response can be alerted and intercept them before they finish their theft, assault or other crime.


“The more I watch his channel the more I think locks and keys are just a mild inconvenience to professional thieves”

OTOH- what would a professional thief want with me?


Or to make it loud enough and/or enough of a hassle that they go next door.

In the house we grew up in, our neighbour put that break-detection tape on his basement windows (it was the 80s- you needed the tape in those days). We asked him, “Oh what security system do you have?” He replied, “The tape isn’t connected to anything. It’s just so the thief will see it and break into your house instead of mine”. We all had a good laugh but we then put bars over our basement windows so they’d go one more house down. :grimacing:


Almost 30 years ago I put an electronic lock on the front door because I didn’t want our 9 year old carrying a key, it’s worked flawlessly and is still in service. The 4 digits are worn so a clever thief might get lucky but they’d still have to try a few thousand combinations or just kick the door or bust out any window all before my neighbor saw.

Even if a thief got inside our cats would love him to death so we’d come home to a dead thief and cats that still want their dinner.

I keep thinking about replacing it with a newer smart lock but my biggest criteria is it must have a key override. In the 30 years we’ve had our lock I’ve never had to use the key but there is one hidden nearby just in case. It would make me nervous relying only on the smartness of the lock.

I wonder how hotel locks handle dead batteries, the lock in the video has external battery contacts in case the battery is dead and you’re locked out but I’ve never noticed such contacts on hotel doors. I tried searching and came up empty.

On a side not, my dad could never remember the access code to our lock so I made his code the neighbor’s address, all he had to do was look next door to get the code, now my neighbor has a code in case our cats need something. They have his number.


If it’s only 4 and they’re worn, that’s 24 combinations, which is pretty quick to try out.


@jlw one of the first thing you learn about locks in an intro to lockpicking type class is that most locks are largely a social signalling convention.


Just be less attractive than next door. I’d also expect a thief with a repirtoire like the LPL to quickly become well known to the law, so is the benefit worth the effort investment, say compared to studying for some other skill.


And this is why I’m not in charge of security for the Pentagon.