Don’t tell anyone, but I managed to break into my own house

October 29, 2020 — by Bill Yuan

A good toolkit and knowledge from YouTube are enough to pick many locks.

Hidden by the dark of night, I squatted down by the door and opened my toolkit. I stuck the hook pick and tension wrench inside the lock and got to work. Nine minutes later, the lock barrel finally gave way. I had successfully broken into my own house.

With nothing to do locked inside my house, I thought to myself: What if I locked myself outside of the house? I stumbled upon a YouTuber by the name of “LockPickingLawyer,” who specializes in picking, decoding and breaking locks. His systematic approach and expertise in the practice made it look easy. I decided that I would learn to do it.

I first tried picking locks with hair pins and paperclips, like they do in movies. After watching a few YouTube tutorials, I was actually able to pick a Master No. 2 padlock. 

However, these makeshift tools aren’t the best suited ones for all locks. They get stuck in some keyways and are also uncomfortable to hold and use. So I decided to invest in a lock picking kit, with a transparent lock and tools with varying shapes and sizes.

The kit turned out to be a huge improvement over my makeshift tools. The transparent lock also helped me get a better feel of picking a lock. Being able to see the pins move up and down with my tools inside the lock showed me where to move my tools, and how much force I should be applying.

Not surprisingly, the transparent lock was incredibly easy to pick. After sticking my tension wrench and pick inside the keyway, wiggling the pick around and applying rotational tension with the tension wrench, the lock opened. 

At this point, though, I wasn’t ready to graduate to more advanced locks. I beefed up my skills by opening the lock as fast as possible, upside down and blindfolded. When I could do this easily, it was time to pick a real lock.

My ultimate goal was to be able to lock myself out and be able to open the door only using the tools in the lock picking kit: a task that is easy in theory and hard in practice.

The lock on the back door looked like the most pickable lock, but it was mounted upside down. Luckily for me, I had already practiced picking a lock upside down during my intensive training, and was ready for the task. 

I locked the door, but kept it ajar, just in case I wasn't able to open it. I repeated what I had practiced; I stuck the tools in the keyway, systematically pushing down each pin while applying tension to the barrel. 

My first efforts met with poor results. I  was able to open it only once, probably by dumb luck. I was usually able to set three or four out of the five pins, but for some reason I couldn’t trip the last one. 

The only thing left to try for me was to turn the lock the other direction. Sure enough, once I applied tension in the opposite direction, I got it open. When it worked, I honestly had no idea why. I was somehow able to push the pins randomly, and somehow the lock opened.

After successfully picking the lock a few times, I decided that it was time for me to attempt the great feat. At 8 p.m., I went outside and brought along a hoodie, water and rations, just in case I would be stuck outside longer than I anticipated.

It took a few minutes of mental preparation before I was able to lock myself out. I wasted no time doing what I had rehearsed; tension on the barrel, the pick in the keyway and pushing pins down one by one.

I soon learned that picking a lock for real is nothing like what I practiced. I couldn’t find a comfortable posture while working, and the doorframe reduced my working space.

Five minutes passed. I began to sweat despite the chilly weather. Everything that I feared would happen was happening. After working through the pins a few times, I was sure that I had set them all, as I felt no movement in any of the pins, yet the lock wasn’t opening. 

After 9 grueling minutes, I finally felt the lock turn and I whooped in glory. To be completely frank, I really have no idea why I was able to open it the time I did, and what I did wrong the other times. But hey, I was able to break into my own house. Time to move on to a higher stakes target… maybe my front door?