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Are Lock-Picking Tools Legal?

On our locksmith training courses, we cover a lot of material. Depending on the type of course you select, you’ll cover different levels of training. However, every course involves using specialist lock-picking tools and developing the skills you need to work, change, and manipulate locks.

But hang on – doesn’t that work bear an uncanny resemblance to ‘the bad guy’ in every film? Isn’t that how cartoon characters break into banks, vaults, and homes? There are some sensitive legal regulations when it comes to lock-picking tools. In today’s article, we’ll explain what those mean for you.

Will Lock-Picking Tools Make You a Criminal?

So are you a criminal for ordering your first set of lock-picking tools? Does lock-picking put you on a wanted list? And have MPL been breaking the law all this time, training up a gang of expert lock-pickers and locksmiths?

Of course we haven’t – and you’re not a criminal for purchasing lock-picking tools. But you still need to be careful.

To make extra sure that we’ve got this one correct, let’s look at the official wording from The Theft Act 1968. Section 25 states the following:

“A person shall be guilty of an offence if, when not at his place of abode, he has with him any article for use in the course of or in connection with any burglary or theft.”

So before you pack your lock-picking tools on holiday or stick them in your pocket and head to the pub, bear in mind that if you’re stopped in a public place and found to have lock-picking tools, then you’ll have some very difficult questions to answer.

While you’re technically breaking the law, non-suspicious activity is unlikely to get you in trouble. If you have the tools for your profession, then it shouldn’t be an issue. But other factors such as previous convictions and the time of day will all be considered.

For those interested in lock-picking but not necessarily a locksmith career, experimenting with lock-picking tools within your own home is technically legal. But is it a risk worth taking? If you’re found with these tools at the wrong time in the wrong place, the consequences could be severe. Nobody should be able to buy locksmith tools until they’re a fully accredited locksmith. These are the regulations that we work by at MPL Locksmith Training.

MPL Locksmith Training Courses

Why not enrol for a locksmith training course with MPL to make sure that you understand the legalities of locksmiths’ work? That way, you’ll have the suitable accreditations to show why you’re carrying lock-picking tools.

We still wouldn’t recommend carrying lock-picking tools in public, off-shift, but at the very least, your circumstances will not be suspicious.

We offer a range of locksmith training courses. Each of them is suited to trainees of every ability, ambition, and budget. You don’t need any accreditations to begin your training courses with us – just commitment and a desire to learn.

Even if you’re just looking to eliminate some bad habits and brush up on your skills, we have the training course for you. Choose from the following:

Our Specialist Locksmith Training Course in particular is fully accredited and is the most comprehensive course, giving you all the training and experience you need to begin a locksmith career.

You’ll use a wide range of different pick and entry tools. By the time you’ve completed any of our locksmith training courses, nobody will be doubting your professionalism.

Become a Professional Locksmith with MPL

We have more than two decades of experience with locks and lock-picking. In that time, we’ve developed a wealth of knowledge and experience. Those qualities are reflected in our training courses where you’re guaranteed a high standard of integrity, professionalism, and care.

In fact, we know locks so well that we manufacture and supply our own locksmith tooling.

Speak to our team today on 01924 693 293, and find out which course is the one for you.

What Is Lock Snapping & How Can I Prevent It?

Whether you’ve been a professional locksmith for a week or for a decade, you need to know about lock snapping and the different ways you can prevent it from happening to homes you’ve worked on. That way you can give your clients the peace of mind they need, installing the locks that you know will provide adequate security for their home.

On our MPL Locksmith Training Courses, you’ll learn everything there is to know about lock snapping, uPVC doors, and the design flaws of certain locks. In today’s article, we’re going to briefly discuss what lock snapping is, the steps you can take to prevent it from happening to your clients, and how our training courses can help.

What is Lock Snapping?

It’s highly likely that you have a family member, friend, or even a colleague that has fallen victim to this surprisingly easy hack. Lock snapping is one of many different techniques that a criminal will use to gain access to your property. Unfortunately, it’s one of the most common techniques.

This is mainly because, with certain locks on UK doors, it’s relatively easy to do. Snapping a lock involves snapping the cylinder lock in half – it’s in the name. Brute strength and force snap the cylinder lock in two, allowing the intruder to remove the outer cover and expose the locking mechanism.

From there, they can tamper with the rest of the lock and bypass its security completely. No particular skill is required, and no specialist tools are needed either: a screwdriver or a hammer will do the job just fine.

Sounds pretty scary, doesn’t it? Well, to make things worse, the lock which is most vulnerable to lock snapping is the Euro cylinder (including both single and double cylinders), found on many uPVC front doors throughout the United Kingdom, and even on van doors as well.

By design, the Euro lock cylinder is very weak. We’ve previously explained how you can promote the benefits of snap-safe cylinder locks over standard locks. But today, we’re going to explain a few different ways that you can ensure your clients are safe from lock snapping.

How Can I Prevent It from Happening to My Clients?

These are the different steps you should take to ensure that the lock you’re fitting is fit for purpose.

Check the Existing Lock

Before you begin to order any snap safe accessories, take a look at the lock that has already been installed. You’re looking for a couple of things here.

First of all, has the lock been correctly installed? There shouldn’t be any more than 3mm of the lock protruding from the door. If there’s more than 3mm exposed and the cylinder is sticking out from the door, that makes it easy for the burglar to snap and manipulate.

If the lock however is installed correctly, then try to find out the rating of the lock. Cylinder locks standards are recognised on the TS007 and the Sold Secure Diamond Standard (SS312). Euro cylinder locks are rated on a 3-star basis, depending on the security they provide in accordance with these standards.

Does the existing cylinder lock have a 3-star rating under either of these standards? You should be able to see 3 stars and a kite mark on the lock. If its rating is less than 3-star, it needs to be removed and replaced.

Fit Diamond Standard Locks the Correct Way

So if the existing lock has to be removed, make sure that you install one that is effective against lock snapping.

You can do this by installing a lock which has a 3-star rating on either TS007 or SS312. These locks are often labelled ‘snap-safe’ locks, and have been proven to stop burglars attempting lock snapping in their tracks.

You’ll need to make sure that you install a lock which is the correct size, since there are several different sizes of doors and locks.

Finally, install the lock so that only the appropriate amount of cylinder is protruding from the door. This should be as little as possible, while still allowing the locking mechanism to be operated with a key.

Locksmith Training with MPL

As you can see, there are different ways to protect a home from lock snapping. And since there are hundreds of thousands of uPVC doors in the United Kingdom with insufficient snap-safe locks, the threat of lock snapping remains very real.

When you enrol on our MPL Locksmith Training courses, you’ll learn even more about lock snapping and how you can prevent it from happening to your clients. You’ll have the knowledge to explain the advantages of pricey snap-safe locks over standard locks, as well as the skill to correctly install a safe, secure lock.

Contact our friendly team today and find out how you’ll benefit from training with the best in the business.

A Guide to Auto Locksmith Equipment

In many of our locksmith training blog posts, we talk about the different types of locks and the different ways that our training courses will help you become a fully trained locksmith. But we’ve generally stuck to talking about the most common types of locks found in British homes – what about the locks that are an important part of everyday automation?

The locking mechanism on your car, for instance, is vastly different to the lock on your front door. And it’s no less important. Every single day, British drivers make calls to auto locksmiths in desperate need of car lock access and repair. Today, we’re going to take a look at the unique equipment that auto locksmiths need to use, why that equipment requires specialist training, and how our Specialist Auto Locksmith Training Course can help you beat the competition.

What is an Auto Locksmith?

Automotive locksmiths are fully trained and certified locksmiths that work with the locks and keys specifically related to vehicles. Although the most common auto locksmith service is to assist with emergency access to a car due to a broken key or lock, they’re trained in many other services as well.

Modern car keys use ignition chips that communicate with internal car computers. If those keys are lost or damaged, then a new chip needs to be programmed to communicate with the computer. As part of our auto locksmith training, you’ll learn how to “cut” a new car key, assist with access to locked cars, reprogramme remote fobs, and open damaged car doors.

Locksmiths that haven’t undertaken additional training in a specific auto locksmith course usually aren’t able to assist with automotive locks. As you’re probably already aware, the technology used in automotive locks and keys is different to the locks around your home. One of the biggest differences is that auto locksmiths need to be fully trained in using specific automotive equipment.

What Equipment Does an Auto Locksmith Need?

Auto locksmiths are still required to carry much of the usual locksmith equipment, just as they would with normal locks.

However, the biggest difference for an automotive locksmith is the need to use a computer. Since you may need to reprogramme keys and ignition chips, you’ll need to use an intelligent device that is capable of programming and transmitting encrypted data.

Much of the digital work is usually carried out with specific software. So, once you’ve acquired a suitable computer, you’ll learn how to use the programming software as well.

But as an auto locksmith, you will also need to rekey laser locks and replace broken locks.

In other situations, you will need to help drivers with emergency access to a vehicle. Gaining access to locked cars is slightly different to gaining access to locked houses and windows, and specialised tools are required.

First of all, you’ll need to use unique picks for unique locks. LISHI picks, Mr Li picks, and inner groove picks are just three of the many picks that you’ll be fully trained on as part of our auto locksmith training course. Long reach tools, Edge locks, Tibbie locks, gold fingers, and button tools are other essential pieces of auto locksmith equipment that you will become familiar with.

You’ll cover locks specific to car manufacturers, and even airbags as well. Our 3-day auto locksmith training course covers the majority of what you need to know about auto locksmithing, and the equipment that is used on a day-to-day basis.

Who Can Become an Auto Locksmith?

The good news is that although it may sound complex, auto locksmithing is a great career choice for anybody interested in locksmithing.

The majority of people attending our training course are current locksmiths looking to expand their skillset. Taking the next step into auto locksmithing gives you an advantage over other businesses, and allows you to carry out more work. Where other locksmiths devote themselves purely to standard locksmith work, you’ll be one of few auto locksmiths able to cover both home and automotive work.

But that’s not to say that our course is only an option for certified locksmiths. In fact, students that are new to the industry will benefit from focusing on such a specific locksmith trade, and becoming an expert in that field.

Auto Locksmith Training with MPL

Whether you’re a complete beginner or an experienced locksmith running your own enterprise, you will benefit from our Specialist Auto Locksmith Training Course.

Speak to our team today if you have any questions about the equipment you’ll learn to use on our auto locksmith training course. Our friendly team of locksmith experts are also happy to explain how our course is City & Guilds accredited, and how you can enrol on the next training course near you.

Coronavirus Policy

In light of the current ongoing events around the world we thought it was necessary that we reach out to our customers regarding Coronavirus and how we can all play our part going forwards.

We take the upmost pride in our level of service and customer care at MPL in the interests of maintaining this whilst keeping our customers and staff in good health.

We are cleaning more frequent than usual. The training areas, kitchens and toilets are being thoroughly cleaned at the end of each day.

All staff and candidates have been instructed to sanitise after using the toilet and as and when they have coughed or sneezed and also before consuming food after using tools.

Staff have been briefed about self isolation if they are starting to show symptoms or indeed if they have been in contact with anyone displaying the symptoms of the virus

Should any of our customers who are booked in start to show any symptoms please let us know prior to our visit so we can take the appropriate action.

We ask that any visitors who visit us to be mindful and not enter the premises if they have any symptoms themselves.

We will carry on with ‘business as usual’ until there is further guidance from the Government but we do have a duty of care to each other and it’s imperative that we keep both customers and staff healthy.

Our policies that have been put into place can be seen in full below along with the most up to date policies from the Holiday Inn Hotel in which our travelling candidates stay.

We hope everyone is understanding of the above and continues to support us the best they can throughout this period.

Stay Safe and Best Wishes

Nicky England (Managing Director)

Click here to see our policy document

A Guide to the Different Types of House Locks

The reason we train locksmiths is because locks are supposed to be complicated and secure. They’re specifically designed so that nobody except the key-holder can use them to gain access to wherever they’re installed. Learning how to install, operate, and replace house locks requires specific training because there are so many different types. And that’s where we come in.

Yes, like everything, there are several different types of house locks, each with their intricacies and unique mechanisms. Let’s take a look at some of the most common house locks and tell you a little more about how our MPL experts can get you trained up on every single one of them.

Padlocks

We can’t mention different types of locks without mentioning padlocks. Padlocks can be secure, safe, and reliable locks – but not for the front door of your home. That’s because padlocks are the only type of lock that is not permanently attached to whatever it’s protecting.

Mortice Locks

Mortice locks are one of the most common door locks found throughout the United Kingdom, particularly the Five-Lever Mortice lock (British Standard). In fact, mortice locks are so common, that many home insurance policies will refer to them as the house lock of choice. On our locksmith training courses, we’ll teach you all about the British Standard kitemark, and what BS3621 means.

These locks are robust and difficult to force open, since they’re protected by the strength of the door frame. A key is required to open and lock the door from both sides, and they’re easy on the eye since all of the mechanics are inside the door.

Cylinder Locks

Another common lock is the cylinder lock.

Different pins of varying lengths are combined in one assembly, and only the key which correctly fits the shape created by the assembly will open the lock. This is a common type of lock used in electronic locks, such as those with ‘fob’ permission locks.

Single-sided cylinder locks are operated by using a key on the outside of the door. Another locking device, such as a thumb-turn, is found on the inside of the door. This means that a quick exit is possible, and that becomes significant in the event of a fire or emergency. As you might imagine, a double cylinder lock requires a key for access on both sides and is more secure than a single-sided cylinder lock.

Cylinder locks can also be swapped out and changed without needing to remove the entirety of the internal hardware. On our locksmith training courses, we show you how to do that with minimal fuss.

Multi-Point Locking Systems

So, by this stage, you already know a thing or two about house locks and their locking mechanisms. If all of the different bolts, cylinders, keylocks and pins have been a little bit confusing, then you may find the popular multi-point locking system a little easier to comprehend.

It’s in the name, really. This is likely to be the type of lock you find on a uPVC door. As the key turns (on either side of the door), a minimum of three different locks move and secure themselves within the door frame. Sometimes, there can be up to five different points of contact, making it a very secure door lock. The majority of new homes will use a front door with a multi-point locking system.

Lock Types and MPL Locksmith Training

There are still many other types of lock used throughout the United Kingdom, including rim locks, and nightlatches. You can learn everything you need to know about all of these types of locks on one of our Locksmith Training Courses.

Our courses are extremely flexible, and you can learn the basics in our 1-day course, or complete the full training in an intense 5-day locksmith course. We have over two decades of experience in the industry, and our purpose-built locksmith training centre has all the resources you need to become a City & Guilds approved locksmith. Contact our team today on 01924 693 293.

5 Common Door Lock Problems and How to Solve Them

We’ve all done it – curse at doors that won’t open or close correctly. It might be a small, irritating door lock problem that worsens over time. Or, it could be one single catastrophic door lock failure. Whether you’re desperate to get indoors after a long journey, in a rush, or you’re trying to bring in the food shop, door lock problems are the last thing you need.

Their purpose is simple, but the technology and locking mechanisms behind door locks can become complicated. This makes some types of lock more prone to failure, or complications. Let’s discuss 5 of the most common door lock problems you could face. We’ll also share a few easy-to-remember solutions so that the next time you encounter a problem with your door lock, you know exactly what to do.

Misaligned Door Locks

It’s usually pretty obvious when a door isn’t correctly aligned within the door frame. Misaligned doors are unsightly and they’re certainly not great for the energy efficiency in the room. But it also means that the door lock won’t be correctly aligned either.

In its simplest form, a misaligned door lock means that the locking bolt doesn’t meet the strike plate on the door frame. When it begins, this can be an annoying door lock problem with a straightforward fix. However, this misalignment will worsen over time and could become a very serious door lock problem. Eventually, after a misaligned door has been constantly forced closed, the door lock will break.

Even if your door lock has been installed correctly, its position can move over time. Temperature changes can affect doors and even warp the material. Before you start dismantling your door lock, check the hinges on your actual door – it could be that your door is misaligned, and simply adjusting the positioning of the door might solve the problem.

If the problem isn’t with the door alignment, then you’ll need to adjust your lock and strike plate until they’re flush. Remove the strike plate and move it so that when your locking mechanism is activated, the two of them meet perfectly.

Loose Door Parts

A less serious problem is a loose door part. While this is considered more irritating than catastrophic, it’s a common problem and can eventually have serious consequences. There are many moving parts within door locks – once one of those parts becomes loose, the whole sequence is at risk of becoming damaged.

Extended use will loosen door knobs, handles, screws and latches. These loose parts mean that your door lock isn’t likely to function correctly – you might find yourself locked either inside or outside of the building. This makes things like burglaries easier, and creates a huge fire risk.

Try to tighten the screws you have access to. If that doesn’t work, the screws might have worn away completely, and need to be replaced. If, even after replacing them, there are still door lock problems, there could be a more complicated issue within the door lock mechanism.

Stiff and Jammed Door Locks and Latches

Another annoying door lock problem is a stiff, hard-to-use latch. Whether it’s a handle or a key-turn which is stiffer than it should be, this could also become a serious issue. That door lock is stiff for a reason – if you leave it for long enough, that stiff door lock will eventually become one that jams. It could become so jammed that you end up breaking your key inside the lock.

Do not ignore the signs of a stiff door lock. As with loose door parts, the risks of ignoring a potentially stuck door far outweigh the benefits of ignoring a faulty lock – your security and safety are at risk.

Doors become stiff and then unusable due to a build-up of dirt and grime within the mechanism. Try to clean the dirt away as effectively as possible with a cotton swab. Much of it will be hard-to-reach, so you might have to dismantle the lock to reach certain parts. Then, do your research and apply the correct lubricant to the jamming area. It’s important that you use the correct type of lubricant, as the wrong type could further damage the lock.

Broken Keys

It seems like you only ever break a door key when you’re already having a bad day, but the truth is that there’s more to a stuck key than bad luck. As we’ve already mentioned, ignoring common door lock problems will eventually cause a key to stick or break completely.

A key broken inside a door lock compounds the problem. As well as being stuck either inside or outside, you now have part of a key lodged very specifically into the door lock. Depending on how it broke (or got stuck), this could prevent you from moving parts of the door lock mechanism to fix the problem in the first place.

A key extraction kit has the tools you need to safely remove a broken key from within a lock. Be careful not to push any key pieces further into the lock. Once the key parts have been removed, inspect your door lock and figure out the problem – it might be time for a new door lock altogether.

Faulty Internal Mechanisms

The final door lock issue we’re going to discuss is one of the most difficult to solve – faulty locking mechanisms. Normally, this requires professional help and is the problem that is most likely to be broken beyond repair.

There are many different moving parts within a door lock. No matter how advanced or reliable your door lock is, eventually, one of those parts is going to break or wear down. When this happens, it’s normally time for a completely new door lock.

For more information and tuition about door locks and common door lock problems, check out our Locksmith Training Courses. You can train to become a fully qualified locksmith in as little as 5 days with MPL, and there won’t be a door lock problem that you won’t be able to fix.

Dave – Dortech Maintenance

Dortech Maintenance are delighted to be working with MPL Locksmiths in the upskilling and development of our site engineers. We look forward to continuing to develop this partnership and would highly recommend their training courses to others

Elliott – Engie

Six Engie carpenters attended the advanced locksmith training course at MPL Locksmith Training to improve their skillsets in force entries to SBD doors. All carpenters who attended the two day course found the course informative and beneficial.

The practical training sessions delivered by the qualified trainers enabled the Engie carpenters to perfect the non-destructive force entry in high security door locks. I would recommend MPL as a training provider as the training delivered a cost saving to the business through non-destructive force entries

Bill – Ashton Pioneer Homes

In December 2018 I sent two of my operatives to MPL for locksmith training. The training was excellent and they have been able to put this in to good use. It has shortened the time taken for evictions and helped us portray a more professional image in front of bailiffs and other staff. I would highly recommend them for training and for purchasing the right tools.

How to Promote the Benefits of Snap-Safe Cylinder Locks Over Standard Locks

One of the greatest skills you can develop as a locksmith is a good depth of knowledge about the types of locks you can install. Being able to offer your customers advice about home security in general, and locks specifically, will allow them to recognise your expertise and help to build trust.

Often, there is a trigger for having your locks changed: post-burglary or attempted burglary; a broken lock; to prevent a particular person or persons accessing the home; or when moving into a new home. However, increasing numbers of people are proactively seeking to upgrade their locks. It’s a good time to think about it, as burglaries traditionally spike around this time of year due to darker nights. Plus, the national awareness campaign – National Home Security Month – creates a lot of media noise around home security.

As well as the opportunities that lock upgrades present to locksmiths, you also have a responsibility to offer good advice and reassurance to your customers. This is more likely to generate repeat business as your customers trust your advice.

Upgrading to snap-safe cylinder locks

Locks are the first line of defence for any property and, of all the security measures you can implement, a good quality lock is the most fundamental. Reinforce this point with all customers. The most secure locks are SS312 Diamond Sold Secure standard. They are more expensive than standard cylinder locks, but here are the benefits to help you make the sale:

Traditional cylinder locks can be snapped

As we know, traditional cylinder locks are vulnerable to lock snapping where the cylinder is broken to manipulate the lock to open. Snap-safe locks break at a designated point that doesn’t allow for the lock to be opened, making a break-in much more difficult.

Lock-snapping is easy

You don’t need special tools. It takes just a few seconds to do, and you can even watch videos on YouTube that show you how to snap a lock.

Lock-snapping is common

Lock-snapping accounts for around a quarter of break-ins. With the exception of an unlocked door (a third of burglaries are insecure break-ins), it represents one of the easiest ways to access a house.

Why promote snap-safe locks?

Snap-safe locks cost a little more than standard cylinders so there’s a small additional margin to be made on the product. However, installation takes the same amount of time, so you may wonder what’s in it for you as a locksmith to convince your customers. Well, apart from the professional responsibility to enable your customers to achieve strong home security, you’re also selling your knowledge and expertise as a locksmith. This builds trust and your customers are more likely to trust you to review other locks such as windows and garages. Plus, if anyone does attempt a break-in, the most likely outcome is that the break-in will be thwarted by the lock, but the cylinder will break at its designated point and need to be replaced. No greater evidence would be required to show the value of your recommendation and you would be the tradesperson of choice for any replacements.

The skills to develop your locksmith business as well as the technical skills required all form an essential part of our locksmith training. See our locksmith training courses for all options available.