Security matters. You should always be concerned about safety, especially when you have a lousy spouse or creepy stalker. Whether you need to keep your garden shed closed or lock up an entire freight shipment, padlocks are an essential part of any security plan. The more you have at risk, the greater your need for a secure lock. Having the right padlock can be the difference between having your identity stolen and keeping wild animals out of your yard, or not.
We get insurance to replace things when they’re lost, damaged or stolen. There’s nothing wrong with having a Plan B, especially since that’s what insurance is for. A smart Plan A is to lock things up securely, so you don’t have a problem in the first place. Some things can’t be replaced or hidden again once they’re outside your control.
Sometimes a crafty criminal (or crummy spouse) thinks they can get into things by having a locksmith do their dirty work. While a locksmith can undoubtedly open locks, it’s not always legal for them to do so. They can even lose their license if they knew or suspected it wasn’t legal.
Can a Locksmith Make a Key Copy Without the Original
The most straightforward answer is yes, but that isn’t always how it works. A locksmith has key making tools, and those tools can cut many types of different keys. If you have a padlock and you lose the key, you might be able to take the lock into a shop, or call a locksmith, and have them come to make a new key using the lock itself. Sometimes they can even pick the lock open for you.
If your key requires a card, as is the case with “Do Not Duplicate” keys, you need to have that card or be able to otherwise prove the key and lock are yours. It is not legal for them to just ‘take pity on you,’ and do it anyway.
Laws Regarding Locks
There are numerous, lock related laws. Mostly the laws have to do with locks in general or lockpicking, and padlocks fall under that jurisdiction. If someone steals from a locked container you own and you can prove it, then you have a pretty good case against them. You may be able to get your stolen goods back or request official changes in information.
Having a lawyer press charges might help you void evidence used against you if it was stolen, but that’s not always the case. Often any information is considered useable if it’s valid. However, you can sue or even have someone jailed for the theft, which might help in case of child custody or similar issues.
Not all cheating cases are straightforward. Sometimes you have to be clever and find other ways to prove your ex is playing dirty. If you can show in court that they have a history of illegal behavior, it speaks to their character. While it doesn’t make any
Pressing charges on a federal level is different from merely getting a lawyer for an average case. According to Justice.gov, the steps for federal proceedings are as follows:
- Investigation- Discovering whether there’s a need to proceed.
- Charging- If they believe a crime occurred, the allegedly guilty party will be charged.
- Initial Hearing/Arraignment- This is where the first part of the case is assessed. If bail is an issue, it will be discussed here.
- Discovery- The lawyers need time to collect evidence.
- Plea Bargaining- If the defendant wants to take a plea, it happens before anything else.
- Preliminary Hearing- This is when they start to look at the facts of the case.
- Pre-Trial Motions- If the other party wants to move for dismissal or invalidate some evidence, things of that nature happen at this stage.
- Trial- Hopefully, you know what a trial is.
- Post-Trial Motions- Anything that was done improperly can be addressed here.
- Sentencing- Punishment or lack thereof happens at the end.
- Appeal- Sometimes there’s enough evidence discovered after a trial to invalidate the verdict, or other extenuating issues may arise that cause the case to need a second hearing.
Your case won’t go to a regular city or county court in this case. Instead, prosecutors, district attorneys or United States Attorneys will handle the process. A Federal Judge or Federal Magistrate Judge will hear your case. Sometimes a grand jury will be called to try the defendant. This is especially true in the case of mail theft. If your PO box key gets stolen by your cheating spouse, they may go to prison for it.
If they cut a lock off a mailbox or belonging to the government, it can be even worse. For example, the package delivery boxes in apartment communities may have a padlock on them. When you have a package, you get the key in your regular mailbox to retrieve it. Sometimes you can’t get a cheater directly for cheating, but if you know they cheated the system and you have proof, then you might be able to find a different way to get them out of your life.
18 U.S. Code § 1704 – Keys or Locks Stolen or Reproduced-
This law is about mail fraud. That means anyone stealing mail from another person. Whether a key is stolen or a padlock is cut, this may apply.
26 U.S. Code § 5682 – Penalty for Breaking Locks This law is specific as well. It applies to breaking locks to steal liquor, or to reach anything locked up by the IRS. If your lousy ex has used bolt cutters on a padlock for something like this, then they could be jailed for up to three years.
Five states have anti lockpicking laws that are specific. When you have a cheating ex who’s especially motivated or skilled lockpicking might be a big issue. Your private information is yours to keep and protecting it is easier in places with specific anti-lockpick laws. You may also want to consider putting in a security camera, like the ones we reviewed here to catch them in the act of stealing.
- Illinois – This is the only state with prohibitions about bump keys and hammers. While a bump key isn’t technically a lockpick, it can be used to pick a lock. If you’re found with these tools on your person, then it’s considered proof of intent. Oddly enough, regular lockpicks aren’t included in the law so someone would still have to prove intent if you had them.
- Kansas – If you have lockpicks in Kansas sheriffs can take “two sets of fingerprint impressions and one set of palm print impressions” immediately and run you through their system. (Kansas Statutes 21-2501(a))
- Mississippi – Concealing lockpicks in Mississippi is a hazardous idea. Any hidden picks are prima facie (pretty good on its own but not indisputable) evidence of a crime. However, if you keep your picks in the open, it’s a different story. Treat lockpicks like a gun and keep them where law enforcement can easily see them.
- North Carolina – “Repairing, rebuilding, rekeying, repinning, servicing, adjusting, or installing locks, mechanical or electronic locking devices, access control devices, egress control devices, vaults, and safe-deposit boxes for compensation or other consideration, including services performed by safe technicians,” is entirely illegal. You can’t even offer to help with anything that could be considered locksmithing unless you’re licensed. (North Carolina Code 74F-4 )
- Tennessee – Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 4, Chapter 29 and Title 62 (4 – 8 )“No person who is not licensed under this act shall possess, use, sell, or offer to sell any codebook, lock picking tool, manipulation key, try-out key, safe opening tool, or car opening tool. (h) No person shall sell, offer to sell, or give to any person not licensed under this act any codebook, lock picking tool, manipulation key, try-out key, safe opening tool, or car-opening tool.” Basically, if you want to pick locks without a license, do it anywhere other than Tennessee. This is the most restrictive and harsh state where all laws concerning lockpicking are concerned. Additionally, it is also probably a fantastic place to be a legally licensed locksmith.
Not to Be Mistaken for The Padlock Law of Canada
The Padlock Law has nothing to do with padlocks. In 1937 Canada (Quebec) enacted a law to prevent communist propaganda. Chapter 11 of the Statutes of Quebec is called “The Padlock Act.” This is, in itself, an alleged act of communist propaganda trying to turn people against the act itself. The implication being that the government is trying to lock up people’s thoughts and expression. While the wording clouds the issue, the law actually prevents people from promoting any of the ideas of communism or Bolshevism.
Finding Good Information About Padlocks
If you’re looking for laws on locks, like when and where a landlord can perform a lockout or when a sheriff can padlock private property, you’ll need to be more specific with your query. Ask the exact question.
Keep in mind that you may have the right to open or break a padlock if your property is being withheld illegally. Just because a bad spouse locks something away, doesn’t mean you can’t have it. Still, it’s best to check first. When in doubt, ask a lawyer.
What Makes A Padlock Secure
Numerous aspects of a padlock can get an upgrade. The security of your padlock depends on how many or what type of security features it has. There are numerous choices. Realistically not every lock needs every feature to be as secure as possible.
For example, a lock that has no shackle access doesn’t need a boron alloy shackle because it’s not a weakness. Conversely, a boron or other cut and break proof lock doesn’t necessarily need a hidden shackle.
- Materials- The primary material your lock is made from matters a great deal when it comes to security. Steel, titanium, hardened steel, and boron alloys are the best for preventing things like cutting or smashing locks.
- Locking Mechanisms- If your lock has extra tumblers or more than three digits, it is more secure because it is harder to pick.
- Tamper Resistance- Moving plates, dual-sided keys, and other features can help prevent everything from drilling to lockpicks. Any lock that has these sorts of features is more resistant to theft.
- No Visible Shackle- The loop of the lock is called a shackle. This is the piece thieves with bolt cutters, saws or torched go through to get at what’s inside your secure area. If they cannot reach the shackle, it can’t be cut off.
Add a Plastic Security Seal
A plastic security seal will show you if your property has been accessed. They function in many ways, but the basic gist is that when you have a security seal on a lock, opening it breaks the seal and can’t be repaired. This is a smart way to tell if a thief has picked your lock.
These seals can come with barcodes and specific number designations. To add a layer of security, the seals are all unique, so even the most ingenious thief can’t simply replace your seal with a lookalike. The numbers wouldn’t match.
The Five Most Secure Padlocks
Picking a padlock can be a bit of a crapshoot, you never know when your number will come up, and some thief will test your lock. You don’t want a padlock your kid brother could break into before he hit double digits. Cheap, poorly built security measures are like an advertisement that says you have something worth getting to and you don’t care enough to make sure they don’t.
If something isn’t worth locking up well, then maybe it doesn’t need a lock at all. For everything else, we’ve done extensive research into the world of padlocks and selected the creme of the crop. With a lock like these, make sure you never lose your key (or code) because your locksmith might not be able to help.
1. Union Hercules Padlock
Union Hercules gets the top spot on our list for a very good reason. They are almost impossible to break into. These outstanding and unusual looking locks have everything a wary buyer needs to keep their property secure. Even a really crazy ex isn’t going to get in easily, if at all, with one of these in place.
Using a Hercules lock means you don’t need to worry about anyone getting inside. They’re keyed differently, so no other key from the same brand will open your lock, which is a common critical lock failure.
Thieves and snoops can’t even get to the hardened steel concealed unspring shackle to try and cut it. Moreover, it retains your key if not appropriately locked so you’ll never walk away and accidentally leave the door open to predators.
The box-like look of this lock is its own deterrent since it doesn’t look like a standard padlock. Anyone trying to get in could pass this right by if they haven’t seen one before. It appears more like a solid piece of metal than a potential weakness you could exploit to enter a secured container or area.
A Tale of Missing Locks
For nearly two centuries Chubb Locks were known and trusted as a top brand. Then they seemingly disappeared overnight. Fans of the brand were disappointed that they couldn’t get the familiar locks anymore, but it turns out that’s not the case at all.
The short version of the story is that ASSA Abloy, who previously manufactured the Chubb Locks essentially still makes them. However in 2010, the license expired, and they were forced to transfer Yale, Union, and Chubb. As a result, Chubb had to make some cosmetic changes.
The locks are still made in the same place, using the same technologies. They even kept the part numbers (mostly) and staff the same. Only the brand changed. So if you want a high-quality lock like the trusted Chubb padlocks, you need to look no further. ASSA Abloy Union Hercules Padlock is a Chubb lock. It just changed its name when it got married with other lock companies.
- Maximum Security, Maximum Safety- Lock security is rated in different ways depending on where the lock came from initially. In the EU, they use a system called CEN. The rating system goes from 1, the worst, to a 6, which is the best you can buy. ASSA Abloy Union Hercules receives a “CEN Grade 6 Maximum Security,” rating. That means you can’t get more secure than this lock without putting your property in a bunker and then burying the bunker in concrete and dropping it in the ocean.
- Resists Just About Everything- Some locks like to crow about their hardened shackles. Don’t get things twisted, a hardened shackle is a fine thing to have, but you can do better. Hercules is manufactured to be torque, drill, force, and pick resistant. If that wasn’t enough, they also created it with corrosion resistance in mind. Not much short of an explosive can damage this lock.
- Unique Keys- The dual-sided keys that open this lock look like something out of a fantasy movie more than they resemble a standard key. The beauty of a two-sided lock-key is that it makes picking the lock exponentially harder to do because a thief can only fit so many lockpick pieces inside a small keyhole.
- Needs a Flat Surface- This style of lock isn’t going to do as much good if you don’t have a flat surface for it to lay flush against. The design is quite literally made to secure doors or other vertical surfaces that you can’t reach around or through. A lock like this would be overkill on a Gym Locker and might interfere with the next door locker opening properly.
- Blanks- While it’s no simple task to ‘bump’ this lock, blank keys are sold to the public. If someone managed to get a key impression, they might be able to craft a blank that would open your lock if they had sufficient tools, knowledge, and time to do so.
- Sixteen Millimeters- The Shackle on this lock is a whopping 16mm. That’s larger than a standard locker or hasp hole. You might have to get a custom piece to put the Hercules through, or at least take a Dremel to your existing equipment to widen the gap so a shackle can fit.
Upgrade to Union Hercules here.
2. Ingersoll 10 Lever Padlock
This lock is one of the longest on the market since they were initially released in 1971. Any lock that’s made it almost fifty years speaks for itself where durability is concerned. Most locks simply don’t stand the test of time because better technology bumps them off the shelves. The Ingersoll has been around since 1949, so they’re almost as well known and reliable as Chubb/Union/ASSA Abloy. They earned the second spot on our top five list.
All Ingersoll manufacturing happens in England, where they were founded and family owned for years. Because the company was eventually sold, some of its history has been lost. However, their website had this to say about their padlock design, “This is unconfirmed, but our suspicion is that they were originally made for Military contract and no found their way into the civilian market as a high-security padlock.”
Given how well designed their products are, we’re inclined to believe, or at least suspend our disbelief until someone proves otherwise.
A lever lock is an older design. The less expensive pin-tumbler system has become more popular because it’s cost-effective. Unfortunately, cheaper doesn’t usually mean better. A regular lock doesn’t have anywhere near the level of security in the Impregnable Range Ingersoll Ten Lever Padlock.
More levers translate directly to a more complicated lock. For obvious reasons, a sophisticated lock is more difficult to pick. When you add the other security features like the shackle protection, it’s going to be ridiculously hard to break this lock.
- Bonus Key- Plenty of locks use keys. Some even come with a spare key in case you’re a sharing type, or you just need a spare. Generously, Ingersoll includes three keys with each lock. This way you’ll have one to carry, one to hide and one to lock away elsewhere for a rainy day. Many people leave their spare with a trusted friend or family member in case of emergencies.
- Need More Locks or Keys- Your circumstances can change rapidly. If you find yourself suddenly in need of more locks than you had before, then Ingersoll has you covered. They can make you more keys, or even locks to match your existing keys. All you need is the number of the key to get more locks to match it.
- Warranty Included- It’s always a good sign when a company stands behind their quality. Be careful not to invalidate the warranty with cheap key copies or other misuses.
- Resale Only- Ingersoll only sells in the UK. If you plan to purchase one of these brilliant locks, you’ll have to buy it through an intermediary. They don’t even have international shipping. No worries, though, because there are plenty of sellers who are happy to go to the extra trouble to stock them.
- Too Good To Be True- The quality and reputation of Ingersoll locks are so good that counterfeits are a problem. Cunning criminals with too much time and plenty of equipment can make and resell fake, less expensive copies. Inferior parts and materials can make a look alike, but it’s not the same product or maker as the original and outstanding Ingersoll locks.
- Call the Company- Should you manage to lose all three of your keys and need a replacement, or decide you want other keys for your lock(s), please contact Ingersoll. Cheap replicas of this key style can be made, but just like the replica locks, there’s a quality difference. When non-specialized equipment cuts an inexpensive copy of an Ingersoll key, the slight variations that come from not having the same equipment cause damage over time. Don’t waste a good lock on cheap, convenient keys.
Pick up an Ingersoll right here.
3. Vulcan Viro Premium
Vulcan Viro is virtually impossible to cut with hand tools or bolt cutters. That’s not a claim that many locks can make. When it comes to being the toughest and most cut resistant Viro has it in the bag. You can tell they value their products and have pride in what they do. The included cut-proof chain comes with a specialized Cordura tube wear pad cover to protect the finish. You won’t have to worry about ruining the beauty and shine of your lock against rough surfaces like brick.
This lock is the complete package, quite literally. The lock, chain, and cover come with three keys so you can lock up whatever you need secure. Versatility and sturdiness won this lock a place on our list. You can use it to lock up your motorcycle, your business, or just the garden gate and rest easy knowing that nobody is getting through.
Founder & History
Viro locks are an acronym for the name of their founder, Vincenzo Rossetti. He started his outstanding lock company back in 1942. Throughout their long history as exceptional lock creators, they’ve always strived to make the best and most secure locks around. By 1965 they had opened a vast 25,000 sq meter new factory in Zola Predosa (near Bologna).
In the following years, they continued to innovate. In 1985 they opened Viro Tronic to develop electronic products including RAM 7. The first fully electronic safe made in Italy was a hit, but they’ve continued their commitment to non-mechanized locks all along.
Viro has been recognized for their research since the mid-1990s, and in 2006 they even added fingerprint based locks, which put them ahead of their time. This year they celebrate their 77th birthday. Decades of achievement and innovation have gone into your Viro lock, and it shows.
- Galvanized Chain- The unique links on the chain are case hardened. Moreover, an electro-galvanized finish is made to prevent corrosion and keep your lock chain working for years to come.
- Hard To Grip- The shape and materials used in creating this lock are made to defeat thieves. The square chain links are harder to grip with bolt cutters, making anyone who tries to thwart your lock waste time and think twice.
- Exclusive Design- The exclusive shape and design of the lock itself is made with safety and security in mind. It features a unique double-sided lock that opens on both sides. You can use the same key for either shackle. Plus, the added security means you won’t lose hold of your chain while you’re unlocking your valuables.
- Lockout Problems- If you lose your keys, you have a real problem with this lock. Since it can’t be cut open, you’ll have to hope your locksmith can pick the lock. Even that won’t be easy, so be very careful and make sure you put at least one of the three keys where you can get to it at all times.
- Choose Your Size Carefully- Since you have so many options on the size of your lock and chain with Viro, you need to pay extra attention to your choice. If you select a lock chain that’s too large, it won’t fit with your needs.
- Keyway Can Get Stiff- Make sure you take good care of your lock. If you don’t, you’re risking a stiff keyway that could slow you down. In an emergency, every second counts, so keep your keyway clear and clean.
Choose a Viro right here.
4. ABUS 20/70 Diskus
Disc padlocks have always been a fantastic choice for security. The simple, yet brilliant design of a round lock with a hard to reach shackle provides added protection and makes bolt cutters useless. The German made Abus 20/70 is a powerful piece of lock technology, plus it’s our pick for lower budget high-security option.
Like most of the companies whose locks made the list, they’ve been around a long time, since 1924 in fact. Naturally, they bring all of their experience to the table. However, ABUS goes further. ABUS ensures a long service life and a supremely high-quality lock.
Abus cares about more than just the locks they make and security needs. They care about customers who use their products. They show their heart and community-mindedness by going above and beyond in many ways. Our favorite is their sponsorships. ABUS likes to share the good fortune by consulting with companies and even sports teams as a partner, to help keep their essential equipment safe.
More than just a partner, ABUS sponsors events and teams to help them achieve their dreams. You have to admire a company that has more than a great product. They have a whole division for promoting and sponsoring athletes and sports teams. Commitment to making things better would be worth an honorable mention on our list even if they didn’t make such excellent locks.
- Steel to the Core- Some locks put a nice steel outside around a softer core, but not ABUS. Their 20/70 Diskus is stainless steel outside, and within. Good stainless steel helps prevent corrosion so your lock won’t rust at the core leaving you locked out.
- Plus Disk Cylinder- The cylinder in an ABUS 20/70 is one of the hardest to pick on the market. It resists drilling and pulling. Also, the number of key variants is so high that you won’t be at risk of a savvy thief buying their own replica and using its key to open your lock.
- Anti-Cut Plate- It almost seems like guiding the lily, but ABUS added an anti-cut plate for one more layer of security on their already impressive lock.
- It’s Not Boron- As ‘cons’ go this is pretty lame, but there is a harder substance ABUS could be working with. Boron is harder than diamond when it comes to crush resistance. A good alloy is stronger than steel, but sometimes you don’t need the overkill when the product is already great.
- Only As Good- Your new ABUS lock will resist bolt cutters, but if you don’t get a high-quality hasp for it to go with, then a thief can break the equipment it’s attached to instead. The lock is only as good as what you put it on.
- Snap a Key- The keys that go with locks are always a weak point. No key is as strong as the lock it opens. If you overturn your key, you can twist or break it off. Use a gentle touch, and your keys will last as long as your locks.
Check out prices on an ABUS here.
5. Squire Locks SHCB65 Stronghold
Our most unusual entry is the SHCB65 Stronghold. With all the appeal of a square, hard to reach shackle lock, and the benefits of a combination lock, this unique lock will keep your valuables secure and maybe even confuse a thief. An average three number dial has an incredible ten-thousand possible numerical choices. With the added fourth dial, the number of potential combinations is multiplied exponentially. No one is going to randomly choose the right four number combo out of a hundred thousand choices randomly.
Everything about this lock is next-level secure. The unusual looks are great, and the color is beautiful. Most locks aren’t all that visually appealing, but the Stronghold is more than a great lock, it is also a looker. Finding your lock in a crowded room will be easy.
Squire has been a family owned independent company for centuries. With 230 years of experience, they’ve been making locks for longer than anyone, even on this list. Since they began in 1780, the level of sheer experience Squire has is unrivaled in the field, which certainly explains how they came up with such a unique lock.
- Patented Bolt Technology- The Stronghold takes shackle technology in a new direction with their patented slide bolt. You have to pull the button out to release it from the housing. Though it’s not perfect, this feature may also help confuse and thwart thieves as they try to push the button and think they’ve failed to unlock it at all, assuming they get that far (which they won’t).
- Anti-Cut- The extra shrouded lock body helps give an additional layer of cutting damage resistance to keep your lock from breaking.
- No Lost Keys- One of the things that has always made number-dial padlocks so popular is the lack of keys. With no keys to copy, lose, or have stolen, it’s harder to get in to a lock. Just don’t leave write the numbers down.
- Locksmith Trouble- If anything goes wrong, a locksmith can’t just pick this lock for you. No keys means there’s no keyway for picks to go inside. Don’t lose your combination, or you may accidentally lock yourself out.
- Not Cold Resistant- Unfortunately, if you’re seeking a cold weather resistant lock, this one isn’t designed for freezing temps. In most normal circumstances, however, it’s one of the best you can get.
- No Issues- There is no third ‘con,’ for this lock. It’s amazingly well made and difficult to break into.
Seek out a Squire Stronghold here.
Honorable Mention: Crystal Vision SHPLA
If you’re looking for a lock that tells you when there’s trouble, then the Crystal Vision SHPLA is an attractive alternative. With a one year warranty, you can be confident it will work as promised. If anything goes wrong, you can get a prompt refund or replacement.
Our favorite thing about this lock isn’t the company history, social contributions, or materials. Instead, this supremely crafty lock will scream if anyone tries to break it. The built-in alarm is 130dB of sheer volume. No one is going to get away with your valuables while your lock chimes out a warning that loud if they even try to break in.
Choose Crystal Vision right here.
Some things are just gone forever if a thief gets them. If Pandora’s box had been secured with one of these padlocks, all the evils of the world wouldn’t be floating around today. Instead of being a victim, be proactive. No one is going to handle security for you. In order to keep your personal data and valuable property safe, you have to get the right equipment to do the job.
Padlocks aren’t the only security measures you need, but they can be a huge leap in the right direction. When you do your part to make sure your things are locked up, then you have less reason to worry. Otherwise, you might as well hand out your prized possessions and personal info on the street corner. Don’t be a willing victim.