Are Lockpicks Illegal In New York? Understanding Lock Picking Laws

“Are lockpicks illegal in New York?” is a question on many minds. In this article, we break it down. We’ll explain whether it’s okay to have lock picking tools in New York and what happens if you do not follow the rules. We will also look back at how these rules came to be and what could change.

are lockpicks illegal in new york-infographics by Emma Marshal

If you’re into lock picking, it’s crucial to know the dos and don’ts so you don’t get into trouble. Stick with us, and we’ll give you all the info you need to stay on the right side of the law when it comes to lock picks in New York and answer your query of “Are lockpicks illegal in New York?”.

Are Lockpicks Illegal In New York?

No, lock picks are not inherently illegal in New York. Owning lock picking tools is generally legal, but their use for illegal activities, such as breaking and entering, theft, or unauthorized access, is strictly prohibited and can result in criminal charges.

It’s essential to use lock picking tools responsibly and within the boundaries of the law, emphasizing ethical considerations to avoid legal consequences.

I hope this answers your query, “Are lockpicks illegal in New York?” shortly. You should scroll down to find out further details on the technical aspects of the legality of lock picks in New York.

Lock Picking Tools in New York: Legal Status

In order to get an answer to your query, “Are lockpicks illegal in New York?” you must know all information related to the status of lock picking tools legally.

In New York, the legal status of lock picking tools is not straightforward but rather characterized by a level of complexity or depth that requires careful consideration to understand it fully.

blurred vision of different lockpick tools

Owning lock picks is generally allowed, and they are not inherently illegal. However, the legality hinges on their intended use. Lock picks must be possessed and used responsibly, primarily for legitimate purposes such as locksmithing or lawful hobbyist activities.

By now, you must be very clear about whether “Are lockpicks illegal in New York?” or not, but you must also be aware of the restrictions and regulations in this regard.

Restrictions and Regulations

While lock picking tools themselves may not be illegal, there are strict regulations regarding their misuse.

New York law prohibits the possession of lock picking tools with intent to use them for criminal activities, such as breaking into homes, vehicles, or other properties.

criminal activity of breaking a lock by a man

This intent-based restriction is in place to deter potential criminals from using these tools unlawfully.

In some places, you may find the answer to the question “Are lockpicks illegal in New York?” as a “Yes,” but that applies only when the criminal intent is clearly visible.

Licensing Requirements

licensing certificate of locksmith in New York

Locksmiths and individuals working in related professions are typically required to obtain proper licensing to possess and use lock picking tools in their trade. It’s essential to adhere to these licensing requirements to ensure compliance with New York’s lock picking laws.

The answer to the query “Are lockpicks illegal in New York?” does not apply to locksmiths because their urge to fulfill licensing requirements is a piece of clear evidence that they have no criminal intent, so they must not think about having any issues with the possession of lock picking tools.

Ethical Considerations

Even if the law permits the ownership of lock picking tools, individuals must consider ethical guidelines.

Using lock picks for unlawful purposes can lead to severe legal consequences, including criminal charges and penalties.

Therefore, it is crucial to prioritize the responsible and ethical use of lock picking tools to avoid any legal complications.

Potential Legal Issues with Lock Picking Tools

Lockpicking tools can become illegal when they are used for the wrong reasons. It’s like having a bicycle – having it is okay, but riding it on someone else’s property without permission is not.

When Lock picking Tools May Become Illegal

Lock picking tools may cross the line into illegality when people use them for breaking into places they shouldn’t be, like houses or cars that aren’t theirs. That’s a big no-no in the eyes of the law.

breaking in car with lockpicking tool or a screw driver

So, are lock picks illegal in New York? Well, not exactly. Owning lock picking tools isn’t illegal by itself, but it’s essential to use them responsibly and within the law.

Emphasizing Responsible Use

To avoid legal trouble, it’s crucial to use lock picking tools responsibly. That means only using them for lawful purposes like locksmithing or as a hobby and never for anything sneaky or illegal.

Being responsible with lock picks keeps you on the right side of the law and helps maintain a positive image for this hobby.

Historical Perspective on Lock Picking Laws

a broken door displaying lockpicking symbolizing history of lock picking

The history of lock picking laws has seen some interesting twists and turns. Back in the day, lock picking wasn’t as regulated as it is today. People often used their skills for good, like helping others who got locked out of their homes.

However, as time passed, some folks started using lock picks for not-so-honest reasons, like breaking into places they shouldn’t. This led to concerns about security and safety, prompting lawmakers to step in.

Over time, laws started to change. They became more specific about who could own lock picking tools/picks and how they could be used. Locksmiths and professionals were often the ones allowed to use these tools, and they needed licenses to prove they were trustworthy.

The answer to the query “Are lockpicks illegal in New York?” became evident with the evolution of lock picking laws.

So, the evolution of lock picking laws is a bit like a rollercoaster ride, from being less regulated to becoming more controlled to prevent misuse. Understanding these changes helps us appreciate why today’s laws are in place to keep lock picking safe and lawful.

Penalties and Consequences

Are lock pick sets legal to own in New York City? If you use lock picking tools unlawfully in New York, there can be serious legal consequences. Here’s what might happen if you break the law with these tools:

1. Criminal Charges

a man sitting in jail for committing a criminal act

You could end up facing criminal charges, which means you might have to go to court and deal with the legal system. This is where lockpicking laws come into play, and it’s essential to understand the regulations to avoid trouble.

2. Fines

money as fine influenced by lock picking legal consequences

You might have to pay fines, which are like money punishments. These fines, often influenced by lock picking legal consequences, can be pretty hefty, and they come out of your pocket.

3. Jail Time

a man handcuffed in jail

In some cases, especially if you use lock picks for really bad things, you could end up in jail. Lock pick penalties can be severe, and you might have to spend time behind bars.

4. Criminal Record

Getting in trouble with lock picking can leave a permanent mark on your record, making it hard to find jobs or housing in the future. Staying informed about lock pick legality updates is crucial to avoid such negative consequences.

a hammer on a clock and a banner of criminal records on left side

So, it’s essential to use lock picking tools responsibly and legally, understanding lock picking laws and regulations to avoid these harsh penalties and long-term consequences.

The New York Penal Law Section 140.35 helps in defining a clear answer to your problem: “Are lockpicks illegal in New York?”

Summary of New York Penal Law Section 140.35 (Possession of Burglar’s Tools) 

Law Name:

NY Penal Law § 140.35: Possession of burglar`s tools

Purpose: Addresses the possession of tools or instruments with intent for unlawful activities, primarily related to breaking and entering or burglary.
Prohibited Tools: Broadly includes any instruments, devices, or items commonly used for illegal entry, such as lock picking tools, crowbars, wire cutters, and more.
Intent Requirement: To be charged, evidence of possessing these tools with the intent to use them unlawfully is necessary.
Penalties: Typically considered a misdemeanor offense, with penalties like fines, probation, community service, or imprisonment depending on circumstances and criminal history.
Defenses: Legal defenses may apply, especially if the possession of such tools is for legitimate purposes (e.g., locksmithing, maintenance work).
Prosecution’s Burden: The prosecution must prove both possession of the tools and the criminal intent beyond a reasonable doubt for a conviction.

New York State Laws On Lockpicks  are clear and easy to follow for practicing lock picking.


In the Empire State, the question, “Are lockpicks illegal in New York?” doesn’t have a straightforward yes or no answer. While owning lock picking tools itself is not inherently illegal, it’s crucial to use them responsibly and within the boundaries of the law.

Understanding New York’s lock picking laws and regulations is paramount. Lock picking tools can become illegal if used for criminal purposes, such as breaking and entering or theft. In such cases, legal consequences, including criminal charges, fines, and even jail time, may follow.

In conclusion, owning lock picks in New York is legal, but ethical and responsible use is key. Using them for unlawful activities can lead to significant legal troubles. Therefore, whether you’re a locksmith or a hobbyist, understanding the law and acting responsibly ensures that lock picks remain a lawful and enjoyable pursuit in the state of New York.


  1. New York State Laws On Lockpicks?
  2. Are lock pick sets legal to own in New York City?
  3. Legality of having Lockpick set mailed to me? NY
  4. NY Penal Law § 140.35: Possession of burglar`s tools
  5. Improvised Lock Picks Formerly Titled : POLICE GUIDE TO LOCK PICKING
  6. Lock Picking By Michael Kissiah,
  7. Secrets of lock picking S. Hampton Published 1 April 1987


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