Improvised Lockpick YKTTW Discussion

Improvised Lockpick
A non-key object is inserted into a lock and used to open a lock.
(permanent link) added: 2012-02-22 16:40:07 sponsor: Maxaxle edited by: shimaspawn (last reply: 2015-07-16 19:17:41)

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People use things that's not a lockpick to pick a lock. It doesn't matter what those things are, but fiction seems to like to come up with increasingly unlikely ideas.

Alice comes to a locked door and realizes that she does not have the key. Improvising, she pulls out a paper clip, picks the lock and opens it. She then locks the door and continues on.

Bob later comes across the same locked door, but does not have the key or any lockpicks. Noticing that the lock is very worn, he pulls out a flathead screwdriver, jams it in the lock, and twists it until the lock gives way.

Super Trope to Skeleton Key Card and Hairpin Lockpick.


  • Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars uses a car theft mechanic that involves this with low-end cars.
  • Grand Theft Parsons features a yellow hearse, the keys to which have been lost since before the beginning of the movie.
  • In Rugrats, Tommy is often able to pick locks with his (toy) screwdriver as easily as he can reach and push latches with it.
  • In Fallout 3, a screwdriver is used as a torque wrench (the picking itself is done with bobby pins).
  • This actually has some basis in real life. A pin-tumbler lock consists of two surfaces (generally cylinders, since the design is used in cylinder locks), one of which can rotate against the other (and is both connected to the latch and has the slot for the key in it). Both the cylinders have holes in them which line up when the lock is in the "locked position". Above the cylinders are spring loaded pins which fit into said holes, when the pins are down they lock the cylinders together. Each pin is a different length, meaning that it has to be pushed up by precisly the right amount to stop it from preventing the cylinder rotating. The teeth on a key push each pin up by a different amount and (naturally) a key cut to fit a given lock pushes each pin in the lock by exactly the right amount, alowing the cylinder to be rotating and to manipulate the latch.
    • In order to pick the lock two tools (rather than one as is often portrayed) are needed; a torque wrench and a pick. The torque wrench is used to turn the cylinder, while the pick is used to manipulate the pins in such a way to allow it to turn. A flat headed screwdrive can be used as one. In addition, a screwdriver can also be used to force the lock (literally just twist it hard enough to snap the pins) or rake it (drawing it across the pins in a particular way until they snap in place).

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