How to Crack a Padlock in an Emergency

Image of padlock and wrench.

Securing your belongings these days has become a mix of high technology and old school standbys. In that second group are padlocks, of the basic lock-and-key variety. Tried and sometimes true, they’re used for protecting everything from bikes and lockers to storage units and, of course, treasure chests.

But you know good and well that sometimes the key gets lost. And you kick yourself because you’re in a hurry to get somewhere, or there’s something stored that you really need get your hands on. Maybe it hasn’t happened to you yet, but there are methods to help you pop that lock without the key.

The video below from Tricks Hacks shows a few ways to open a padlock without a key. We’re outlining one here but stay tuned to see how else it’s done. Now, this isn’t intended to help you step into the world of crime— namely theft or burglary. Please, don’t even think about it.

If you’re caught in an emergency and can’t find the key, don’t have a backup copy, or a smart app to unlock things, take note of these padlock breaking methods. Whatever you do, remember to use these powers for good and not evil.

Pop a Padlock

All you’ll need is elbow grease and two wrenches. Find two open end wrenches in the right size to fit inside the lock’s shackle. Slip one jaw of each wrench into the U-shaped opening. The sides of the two wrenches’ jaws should touch each other. Squeeze the handles of the wrenches inwards towards one another until the lock breaks. Pop!

You’ll notice that one side bears the weight of the crack and enable you to wriggle the shackle from its casing. Once you’ve broken the lock, you’ll need to discard it because it will be destroyed.

The locks in this demonstration appear to be made of a resin-type material, making it much easier to break. Combination and closed shackle locks will be more of challenge than these padlocks. There are other techniques used to crack locks that are made of steel or brass. In many other cases, a set of bolt cutters will get the job done. If you’re in a time crunch or don’t have access to hardier tools, try the wrench.

Should you ever find yourself in the midst of an urgent situation where you needed to break open a lock, this might work. Situations where it would unadvisable to try these methods include your next door neighbor’s tool shed (because it’s wrong), your other neighbor’s garage freezer (because it’s creepy), and your sister’s diary (because it’s wrong and creepy).

Like handcuff escaping hacks, this one leads a double life as lifesaver and troublemaker. In either case, stay on the right side of things. Another idea? Buy a lock that comes with an extra key or have a spare one made. Have you ever lost the keys to a very important lock? Did you hack it or call a locksmith? Tell us in the comments!