March 14, 2019

For most people, a morning that starts with locking your keys in your car is grounds to just go home and try again tomorrow, but for members of WPI’s Locksport Club, it’s more like a cause for celebration.

Yes, you read that right. Locksport. The art of ethically picking locks.

We were surprised, too.

Junior chemical engineering major Benson Colella has been picking locks for over seven years, and was surprised that there wasn’t already a locksport club in place when he arrived on campus. After a year and a half of unofficial meetings hosted by Colella and advertised through social media pages and group chats, the club gained SAO recognition last spring, and hasn’t looked back.

As ethical lockpickers, club members abide by something of a strict lockpickers’ code of ethics from The Open Organization of Lockpickers: Never try to open a lock that doesn’t belong to you unless you have definitive permission from the owner; and never share any lockpicking tools or skills with those who might use them for nefarious purposes.

While Colella says he understands why some might view lockpicking negatively, he sees it as an immensely rewarding hobby. “There’s little that beats the sense of accomplishment felt when we defeat a challenging lock for the first time,” he says, adding that he’s saved family and friends hundreds of dollars by getting them into cars, houses, bedrooms, and fire safes they’ve locked themselves out of over the years.

“I enjoy the community of creative thinkers at WPI, and I appreciate Locksport Club as an opportunity to practice our problem-solving skills.”

In addition to learning their way around locks, club members also learn how they can better protect themselves and their property, and some members have even designed and built their own challenge and puzzle locks. Colella has been working on a lock that requires a key to turn a combination dial, while the club’s secretary recently completed a padlock that only opens if it’s turned upside down and the key is pulled out one notch.

Yeah ... good luck trying to tap into those.

While most students might not be designing their own locks just yet, Colella is thrilled that so many stop by to talk with them and even try their hand at lockpicking when the group meets in the Campus Center. “I enjoy the community of creative thinkers at WPI, and I appreciate Locksport Club as an opportunity to practice our problem-solving skills,” he says. “I love sharing my hobby with so many.”

Anyone interested in joining the club may contact them for meeting times and locations. Don’t worry, it’s not BYOL.

- By Allison Racicot

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