Is Lock Picking Legal in Missouri?

Embarking on the journey of learning lock picking can be both thrilling and educational, particularly for beginners exploring the intricacies of this ancient craft. However, it’s crucial to address a pertinent question before diving into the world of tumblers and pins: Is lock picking legal in Missouri?

In this article, we’ll unravel the legal complexities surrounding lock picking in the state of Missouri, catering specifically to those who are new to this captivating skill.

Is Lock Picking Legal in Missouri? infographics by Emma Marshal

So, if you’re a novice lock enthusiast eager to comprehend the legal landscape, join us as we demystify the legality of lock picking in Missouri and equip you with the essential knowledge to navigate this captivating realm responsibly.

Is Lock Picking Legal in Missouri?

Is Lock Picking Legal in Missouri ? title with map of Missouri and a lock on the right side

Yes, lock picking is generally legal in Missouri when practiced responsibly and ethically. It becomes illegal when done with the intent to commit a crime or trespass. Possessing lock-picking tools with criminal intent is against the law. Always ensure you have explicit permission before attempting to pick a lock to avoid legal consequences. Stay informed and practice lock picking within legal boundaries.

Answer to “Is Lock Picking Legal in Missouri?” according to Lockpick Laws In the United States is a YES with a must show intent.

Lock Picking Laws in Missouri


Missouri map

Lock picking laws in Missouri revolve around the question, “Is lock picking legal in Missouri?” Lock picking laws in Missouri are governed by specific statutes designed to regulate the possession and use of lock-picking tools.

Relevant Statutes and Regulations

Here is the information about relevant statutes and regulations regarding lock picking laws in Missouri presented in a table format:

Missouri Statutes/Regulations Description
Missouri Statute §569.170 Prohibits breaking and entering into a dwelling, business, or other structure with the intent to commit a crime.
Missouri Statute §569.180 Addresses the possession of burglary tools, including lock picking tools, with the intent to use them for unlawful purposes.
Missouri Statute §569.190 Prohibits unauthorized entry or trespassing on property, even without breaking and entering.
Missouri Statute §569.095 Defines the crime of unlawful entry into a motor vehicle, which may include instances involving lock picking.
Missouri Statute §569.170.1 Addresses the crime of home invasion, which involves breaking and entering into an occupied dwelling.
Missouri Statute §569.200 Prohibits tampering with locks or other security devices with the intent to commit a crime.
Missouri Statute §569.150 Defines the crime of entering a dwelling without permission with the intent to commit a misdemeanor.
Missouri Statute §569.170.2 Addresses breaking and entering with intent to commit larceny, which may involve the use of lock picking tools.

Is lock picking legal in Missouri should become more clear from conditions of legality and illegality.

Conditions under Which Lock Picking is Considered Legal or Illegal in Missouri

Conditions for Lock Picking in Missouri Legality
Lock Picking with Intent to Commit a Crime Illegal (Missouri Statute §569.170)
Possession of Burglary Tools for Unlawful Purposes Illegal (Missouri Statute §569.180)
Unauthorized Entry or Trespassing Illegal (Missouri Statute §569.190)
Unlawful Entry into a Motor Vehicle Illegal (Missouri Statute §569.095)
Home Invasion (Breaking and Entering into an Occupied Dwelling) Illegal (Missouri Statute §569.170.1)
Tampering with Locks or Security Devices with Criminal Intent Illegal (Missouri Statute §569.200)
Entering a Dwelling Without Permission with Intent to Commit a Misdemeanor Illegal (Missouri Statute §569.150)
Breaking and Entering with Intent to Commit Larceny Illegal (Missouri Statute §569.170.2)
Lock Picking Without Criminal Intent, With Explicit Permission Legal, under responsible and lawful circumstances

There is a comprehensive article on Is lock picking illegal in the US for detailed information on all states in this regard.

Following table summarizes the key points from Missouri Revised Statutes – § 569.180.1, in Lockpick Laws In the United States.

Missouri Revised Statutes – § 569.180.1 Possession of Burglar’s Tools
A person is guilty of possession of burglar’s tools if they have any tool, instrument, or item designed or commonly used for offenses involving forcible entry into premises. The possession must be with the purpose of using it or knowing that someone intends to use it for an unlawful forcible entry into a building, inhabitable structure, or a room within.
Elements of Violation The possession of tools must be associated with the intent to commit or facilitate offenses related to forcible entry, emphasizing the individual’s awareness or purpose.
Examples of Tools Items considered as burglar’s tools may include but are not limited to lock picking kits, crowbars, or other instruments adapted for breaking and entering.
Premises Covered The statute applies to various premises, including buildings, inhabitable structures, or rooms within these structures.
Legal Consequences Violation of this statute can result in criminal charges, emphasizing the seriousness of possessing tools for unlawful entry.

Exceptions and Limitations

In Missouri, lock picking is legally permitted for licensed locksmiths, law enforcement personnel, and individuals with explicit property owner consent.

Explicit Permission and Legal Purposes

Lock picking is generally legal in Missouri when performed with explicit permission from the property owner or for legal and educational purposes.

Engaging in lock picking for locksmith training, educational demonstrations, or lawful access is considered an exception.

Embarking on the journey to become a locksmith in Missouri doesn’t follow a strict set of rules, but certain keys open doors according to Locksmithing School: How to Become a Locksmith in Missouri?

Eligibility Criteria
Age 18 +
Education Degree NO
Criminal History Criminal record does not disqualify.
Key Skills Mechanical and mathematical abilities, knowledge of lock components, proficiency in using locksmith tools
License and Certification State-issued business license or City Hall business license; Professional certifications recommended
Average Salary (US, as of August 2022) $50,000 – $60,000 per year

Penalties for Illegal Lock Picking

Engaging in illegal lock picking in Missouri can lead to severe consequences, as outlined by state statutes. Individuals found violating the law may face the following penalties:

1.    Criminal Charges: Violators may be charged with criminal offenses under specific statutes. For example, unauthorized entry with lock picking tools can result in charges under Missouri Statute §569.190.

2.    Fines: Monetary penalties may be imposed, depending on the severity of the offense. For instance, possession of burglar’s tools under Missouri Statute §569.180.1 may lead to fines upon conviction.

3.    Imprisonment: In more serious cases, individuals convicted of illegal lock picking may face imprisonment. For example, home invasion involving lock picking tools is a felony under Missouri Statute §569.170.1, carrying potential prison sentences.

4.    Legal Record: A conviction for illegal lock picking can result in a criminal record, impacting future employment opportunities. For instance, breaking and entering with the intent to commit larceny (§569.170.2) can leave a lasting mark on one’s record.

5.    Civil Liability: Beyond criminal penalties, violators may be held civilly liable for damages resulting from their illegal lock picking activities. For instance, if an individual uses lock picking tools to gain unlawful entry, they may be liable for any property damage or losses incurred.

Do you want to know about similar aspects related to lock picking in other states as well? Other states like California, Arizona, Alaska, Alabama, Ohio, New York, Washington, Florida, Virginia, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware , Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine etc. have also similar regulations.


The legality of lock picking in Missouri involves understanding the delicate balance between pursuing a fascinating skill and staying within the bounds of the law.

For locksport enthusiasts who revel in the challenge of picking locks as a sport, it’s essential to be well-versed in Missouri’s statutes.

In essence, the legality of lock picking in Missouri underscores the importance of responsibility, awareness, and adherence to the law.

By staying informed, obtaining permission, and approaching lock picking as a skill rather than a tool for illicit activities, both students and locksport enthusiasts can enjoy their pursuits within legal and ethical boundaries.

So, is lock picking legal in Missouri? Yes, if approached responsibly and with respect for the law.


  1. Is it legal to possess lock-picking tools in Missouri?

Possessing lock-picking tools in Missouri is generally legal; however, the intent behind possession matters. If the tools are intended for criminal use or unlawful entry, it is prohibited under Missouri Statute §569.180.1.

  1. Can I engage in locksport activities in Missouri without legal repercussions?

Engaging in locksport, a legitimate and legal activity focused on the recreational and competitive aspects of lock picking, is generally acceptable in Missouri. However, it is crucial to ensure that your activities align with responsible and lawful practices, avoiding any actions that might be perceived as criminal.

  1. Do I need explicit permission to practice lock picking in Missouri?

Yes, obtaining explicit permission is advisable before attempting any form of lock picking in Missouri. Whether you are a student exploring the skill or a locksport enthusiast, respecting the property rights of others and seeking permission ensures a legal and ethical approach to lock picking.


  1. Locksmithing School: How to Become a Locksmith in Missouri?
  2. Lockpick Laws In the United States
  3. Lock Pick Laws by State 2023

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