These graphics show how to pick locks and break padlocks

The art of picking locks may seem like the stuff of action-movie heroes, rather than a commonly known skill. But with perseverance, an understanding of locks, and the right tools, anyone can become a successful lock pick.

Although most advanced and higher-end locks can only be broken with purpose-made picking tools, improvised lock picks can be used to crack low-end or improvised locking systems. According to retired Navy SEAL Clint Emerson’s book “100 Deadly Skills,” all it takes to create a lock pick is two paper clips, a hard surface, and a pair of pliers.

All a person has to do is bend the clips in the correct way to imitate professional rake and torsion tools.

Picking locks requires a combination of dexterity, practice, patience, and an understanding of locking mechanisms, “100 Deadly Skills” notes.

So the first step to successfully picking a lock is understanding how it functions. This graphic shows a common lock design — and how to beat it:

A five-pin tumbler lock, as seen above, is the most common type of lock in use today. The pins do not need to be forced upward in any specific order. So long as they’re all forced upward and held in position through the use of rotational pressure, the lock will be broken.

Defeating a padlock requires a different set of tools than a normal lock, according to “100 Deadly Skills.” Despite the seeming robustness of padlocks, their design actually leaves them vulnerable.

All that is required to break a padlock is an aluminium can and hand shears.

The double shims shown above are only necessary for a double-lock padlock. Single lock padlocks only require a single shim on the side that locks.

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