April 10th, 2009

A few years ago, I lost the keys to my flat and paid a locksmith to open my front door. I was fascinated by the various techniques he deployed and considered the educational benefit of watching him at work to be tremendous value for my £80.

This week, I went for a run. In order to avoid jogging with more than is necessary, I separated my door key from the rest of the bunch, . When I returned home, I forgot to re-attach it and went out again a few minutes later.

Later that evening, whilst I waited for another locksmith, I recalled the previous experience and attempted to break into my own flat. The neighbours supplied me with various tools and, as I set to work, they gathered round to watch.

My first efforts involved a twisted coathanger, which I stuck through the letter box with the aim of looping one end around the catch on the inside. It was too flimsy and cumbersome so I improvised a more elaborate plan.

A large pair of pliers and a ball of string were placed at my disposal. I tied one end of the string to the end of the handle, whilst keeping my foot on the other end, and fed the pliers through the letter box. I was aiming to clamp the pliers around the door catch and twist it open. Every time I dropped the pliers, I used the string to pull them back through the letterbox.

The pliers were too short to reach the catch so I extended the handles by tying a chisel to each one of them. Now I had the device I wanted. I fed the chisels, pliers and string through the letter box and was eventually able to grab the catch between the teeth of the pliers. It took several attempts but – once I’d found that perfect combination of gripping and downwards pressure – my front door slid open.
My neighbours applauded and I took a bow before stepping inside.

Two minutes later, the doorbell rang. It was the locksmith.