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House locks pickable from 0ft away via $15 lock pick set. Or, you know, a crowbar.

A lock keeps out casual thieves, nothing more.

I was going to say, a weekend studying lock picking (which is definitely a fun thing to learn) and you can probably pick open a great majority of the houses out there in very little time... however, even if not practical this research is pretty interesting

Any recommendation on the best way to learn lock picking?

Sure! I'm very much a novice but: I started with 'Visual Guide to Lockpicking' [1] although 'MIT Guide to Lock Picking' [2] is very good and also free. After you get the basic mechanics of locks and lock-picking down you really just need to practice. Get yourself a set of lock-picks online (also look at your state laws for lock-picks, in many states only a licensed locksmith can carry them around so it may be a good idea to keep them at home, and avoid doing things like leaving them in your car/pocket. I believe some US states make it out right illegal to possess them, so just be aware).

Some places will sell practice locks with pins removed, but do not buy them, they are way overpriced and if you really want to understand the mechanics of locks it will serve you well to bust one open. So go to a hardware store and pick up an inexpensive but not cheap lock, crack it open and remove some of the pins (even all but one), add/remove/reorder the pins until you are really good, and then buy more locks.

Also do keep the law in mind, when I looked it up it's illegal in most if not all states to pick locks that you do not own if you are a not a locksmith (even with the owners permission), which can include obviously the locks on your apartment and locks of friends. You could probably get away with this, but the hacker interest in learning things like lock-picking is not universally seen as benevolent, and it would be stupid to get in legal trouble for a hobby

[1] http://www.amazon.com/Visual-Guide-Lock-Picking-Third/dp/097...

[2] http://www.lysator.liu.se/mit-guide/mit-guide.html

Get two hair pins. Straighten one out and stick in lock. You now rake along the pins on top from back to front. At the same time you use the second one to apply rotational pressure on the tumbler so that after being flicked up the pins rest on the edge of the thingy inside, and you'll be able to turn it then. If the first rake doesn't do it try again. This is all there is to it. After a bit of practice you can walk up to a door and pick the lock as fast as anyone can insert and turn a key.

...or a rock and a window. $0, the homeowner provides the rock.

Indeed. The weakest chain and all that.

Get a good lock and a sturdy door frame. It's usually about making it difficult for burglars, not impossible.

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