LockCon and the Dutch Open Championship

Locksmiths like the technicians at Phila-Locksmith are always striving to become more knowledgeable and more masterful of their lock services. Many people do not realize, for the cream of the lock picking crop, there is a convention to not only learn more about their craft, but also compete for a chance to be crowned champion lock picker. LockCon is run by The Open Organization of Lock Pickers and is held annually in the Netherlands. Lock pickers, engineers, locksmiths and lock enthusiasts from around the world flock to this convention every year to test their skills, while also taking a look at the most advanced lock technology that is available.

Maintaining the LockCon Image

The Open Organization of Lock Pickers wants to ensure that their convention and competition only occurs with the best of intentions. This is why LockCon is an invite only event to certain individuals. The President of TOOOL has said that their focus is that, “we spend a lot of time trying to keep the bad guys—or guys with bad intentions—out.” Keeping a tight reign on membership and invitations is crucial for TOOOL because of the negative connotation that can come with being a lock picker. Not only is there competition within LockCon, but also a lot of collaboration and information sharing. The event provides an opportunity for lock pickers to share information with their peers about the latest methods they use and technology that they have encountered. Of course, throughout the convention, the Youth Hostel which plays host to this event each year provides their own lager, “all inclusive”, which certainly helps to maintain the cheerful, friendly but ultimately competitive atmosphere that LockCon is looking to cultivate.

Driving Lock Innovation

Master hacker and creator of Linux once said, “Given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow”. This same logic is applied to new lock technology which is constantly being developed. With enough master lock pickers working on a new technology, it is easy to figure out exactly what the weaknesses of a new technology are. Manufacturers can use the weaknesses identified by some of the brightest brains in the lock pick industry to develop newer technology which is even more secure than that which was produced previously. Once, a lock manufacturer claimed that they had created the, “the safest locking system in the world”[1]. Intrigued, master lock pick Deviant Ollam brought the new lock to that year’s LockCon. After passing the lock around, they recorded the unlocking time that it took for every lock picker and sent that information to the manufacturer. Impressed, the manufacturer began engaging in constructive discussion with the lock pickers on how to improve their new technology.

Arthur Bühl Lock Picking Legend

Standing at 6’5″, Arthur Bühl can seem like quite the intimidating man. To many who are involved in locksport, Mr. Bühl certainly is just that. With championships in many competitions around the globe he is affectionately known as “Arthurmeister”[2] to other lock enthusiast. Hailing from Hamburg, he is among a legion of German lock pickers who have established their country as one of the top producers of master lock pickers.

Not much has been written about TOOOL’s LockCon, which certainly has to do with the strict policy that they keep on attendance. The tales that are told from LockCon display an image of not only competition to vie for top lock picking honors, but also of collaboration that enables the lock industry to grow more and more secure with each year. Americans are among the least represented in the group and continue to maintain underdog status in most of LockCon’s competitions. It will be interesting to see if in the coming years Americans are able to establish themselves as not only a competitive force to be reckoned with, but also a resource that other lock pickers can turn to for innovation. While our Philadelphia locksmiths are able to pick just about any commercial or residential lock that they come across, it would be interesting to see exactly how they stack up against the best and most refined locksmiths in the world.

toool lock con

More information about LockCon and the Dutch Open Championships can be found at: [1] Slate.com and [2] Wired.com