Lock picking increasingly popular hobby

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The New York Times has an article (behind a pay-wall) about lock picking as a hobby almost exclusive to Germany and the Netherlands, and about Toool, The Open Organization of Lockpickers, which …

[…] is dedicated to picking locks for fun. The movement has been growing over the last five years, with a chapter now in Eindhoven, in the east of the country, and foreign branches in several places, including Germany and the United States.

[…] Its members see lock picking as a sport and organize annual competitions, a sort of Olympics of lock picking, at which entrants compete in various categories — padlocks, mechanical locks and freestyle, in which contestants confront a variety of locks with any tools they choose, as long as they do not damage the lock. The next tournament will be held in May in Istanbul.

At the hacker camps I attended the past 12 years, there always was a lock picking tent (where for some reason you had to take your shoes off, as if visiting a temple or Canadians), but I never imagined that what they were doing there was such a local hobby. According to the NYT, lock picking as a sport was invented by Steffen Wernéry of Germany, who in 1997 started the Sportsfreunde der Sperrtechnik club. The difference between the Dutch and German lock pickers is apparently that the former, in good security tradition, share their secrets with the lock makers.

(Photo of Kevin Mitnick‘s business card by Nathan Yergler, some rights reserved.)

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