Locksmithing/Legal Status


United States


In United States, laws concerning possession of lockpicks vary from state to state. Generally, possession and use of lockpicks is considered equivalent to the possession of a crowbar or other tool that may or may not be used in a burglary. Illegal possession of lockpicks is generally prosecuted as a felony under the category of possession of burglary tools or similar statutes. In many states, simple possession is completely legal as their statutes require proof of intent. In some states, however, possession without appropriate licensure is considered prima facie evidence of intent to commit a crime, rendering simple possession a crime.[1]



In California, locksmiths must be licensed by the state.[2] However, simple possession is completely legal, as illegal possession must be coupled with felonious or malicious intent.[3]



In Colombia, it is strictly forbidden to possess lock-picking kits, which is considered a felony.



In the Netherlands, owning lock picks is legal, but using them on someone else's locks without permission is not. There is even a lock picking championship, the Dutch Open, which was reported on in the newspapers. [4]

United Kingdom


In the United Kingdom, a person who carries a lock pick set (even a home made one) can be charged with the offence of "going equipped", unless they have a good reason for carrying them.[5] The penalty for this can be upward of 7 years' imprisonment.

New Zealand


In New Zealand, possession of lock picking tools "without lawful authority or excuse" falls under the crime of "being … in possession of instrument for burglary", which carries a maximum penalty of three years' prison, if accompanied by the intent to use it for burglary.[6]

European Union


Most countries of the European Union don't regulate the possession of lockpicks. All responsibility concerning criminal or legal acts using the picks is taken by the owner of the lockpicks.



In Poland according to the delinquency Codeep Act article 129 § 1:

  1. possessing, producing or obtaining a lockpick by a person whose profession and occupation doesn't require it;
  2. delivering a lockpick to a person whose profession and occupation doesn't require it;
  3. [...]

is punishable with arrest, freedom limitation or fine. § 3 says that a lockpick is forfeited even if it wasn't a property of the principal.


  1. "Code of Virginia Section 18.2-94". Virgina General Assembly Legislative Information System. http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?000+cod+18.2-94. 
  2. "Locksmith Companies and Employees". California Department of Consumer Affairs. http://www.dca.ca.gov/bsis/locksmith.htm. 
  3. "California Penal Codes, Sections 466-469". California Legislative Information. http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/waisgate?WAISdocID=69505628890+1+0+0&WAISaction=retrieve. 
  4. "Lockpickers hebben slot in paar seconden open", the Leeuwarder Courant, 2002-12-02
    "Vito Tieke", Even Vragen Aan, the Algemeen Dagblad, 2002-12-02
    "Duitser kampioen sloten openen", the Sp!ts, probably 2002-12-02
    "Duitser wordt in Sneek kampioen sloten openen", the Friesch Dagblad, probably 2002-12-02
    "Duitser eerste kampioen sloten openen in Sneek", the Dagblad van het Noorden, probably 2002-12-02
    "Sloten openen als nieuwe sport", Dagblad de Limburger, probably 2002-12-02
    Note: the dates of some articles were not available, but considering the fact that newspapers generally report promptly, it can be assumed the given dates are correct.
    It was also documented on television, in the programs Hart van Nederland and on Omproep Friesland.
  5. "Police-information.co.uk legislation index". Retrieved 2006-08-10.
  6. "New Zealand Crimes Act Section 223 subsection 1 - Being disguised or in possession of instrument for burglary". Retrieved 2006-08-14.