Is Lock Picking Legal in Wisconsin? Do You Know State Laws?

If you’re just dipping your toes into the world of lock picking, you may have questions about the legality of this intriguing hobby, especially in your own state. In this article, we’ll explore the question: Is lock picking legal in Wisconsin?

Lock picking, often depicted in movies as a skill reserved for spies and burglars, is actually a fascinating craft that many hobbyists pursue as a way to understand locks and security systems better. However, legality can be a murky issue, and it’s crucial to know where you stand, especially if you’re new to the practice.

In the state of Wisconsin, as with many other states across the United States, the laws regarding lock picking can vary. Understanding these laws is essential to ensure that you’re engaging in this hobby responsibly and within the confines of the law.

Is Lock Picking Legal in Wisconsin? Do You Know State Laws? infographics by Emma Marshal

So, let’s delve into the legal landscape of lock picking in Wisconsin, providing clarity and guidance for beginners and enthusiasts alike. By the end of this article, you’ll have a clearer understanding of whether lock picking is legal in Wisconsin and what precautions you should take if you decide to pursue this hobby in the Badger State.

 Is Lock Picking Legal in Wisconsin?

Is Lock Picking Legal in Wisconsin? Do You Know State Laws?title with map of Wisconsin and a lock on the right side

Yes, lock picking is legal in Wisconsin according to Lockpick Laws In the United States. However, it’s vital to emphasize that while the act itself is not prohibited, any intention to use lock picking unlawfully is strictly against the law. Therefore, it’s essential to approach lock picking as a lawful hobby or educational endeavor. Adhering to this distinction ensures compliance with Wisconsin state laws regarding lock picking activities.

Lock Picking Laws in Wisconsin


Wisconsin State Laws on Lock Picking

Lock picking laws in Wisconsin revolve around the question, “Is lock picking legal in Wisconsin?” Lock picking laws in Wisconsin are governed by specific statutes which are related to locksmithing.

Relevant Statutes and Regulations

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

Statute/Regulation Description
Wis. Stat. § 943.50 Defines burglary and related offenses, including entering buildings unlawfully with intent to commit a felony or theft, which could encompass unlawful use of lock picking tools.
Wis. Stat. § 939.22 Addresses the concept of intent in criminal offenses, emphasizing that the individual’s mental state, including intent, is a crucial element in determining criminal liability.
Wis. Stat. § 943.10 Covers the offense of criminal trespass, which includes unlawfully entering or remaining on another’s property without the owner’s consent, potentially relevant to cases involving lock picking in unauthorized areas.
Wis. Stat. § 175.60 Pertains to the regulation of locksmiths and their activities, outlining licensing requirements, qualifications, and standards of conduct for individuals engaged in locksmithing services.
Wis. Stat. § 134.71 Addresses the sale and possession of burglary tools, which may include lock picking devices, and prohibits their possession with the intent to use them for illegal purposes.
Wis. Admin. Code § 175.60 Provides administrative rules and regulations related to the licensing and operation of locksmith businesses in Wisconsin, ensuring compliance with state laws and standards.

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

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

Legal Conditions Description
Lock Picking as a Hobby Engaging in lock picking as a lawful hobby or educational pursuit, with no intent to commit a crime, is considered legal in Wisconsin.
Licensed Locksmith Lock picking conducted by a licensed locksmith in the course of their professional duties, such as aiding individuals in gaining access to their property, is legal in Wisconsin.
Educational or Training Purposes Lock picking activities conducted for educational or training purposes, such as locksmithing courses or workshops, are considered legal as long as there is no intent to use the acquired skills unlawfully.


Illegal Conditions Description
Intent to Commit a Crime Possessing lock picking tools or engaging in lock picking with the intent to commit burglary, theft, or any other criminal offense is strictly illegal in Wisconsin.
Unauthorized Entry Using lock picking techniques to gain unauthorized entry into a property without the owner’s consent constitutes criminal trespass and is illegal in Wisconsin.
Sale or Possession of Burglary Tools Selling, possessing, or intending to use lock picking tools or other burglary tools for illegal purposes is prohibited under Wisconsin law.

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 The Wisconsin Statutes and Annotations – § 943.12 in Lockpick Laws In the United States.

This statute makes it unlawful for any individual to possess any device or instrumentality specifically intended, designed, or adapted for breaking into depositories designed to safeguard valuables, buildings, or rooms with the intent to use such tools for breaking into these secured areas with the purpose of theft.
Violation of this statute constitutes a Class I felony in Wisconsin, carrying serious legal consequences. Individuals found guilty of possessing such tools with intent to commit burglary can face significant penalties under the law.
This law is aimed at deterring and penalizing individuals who possess tools or equipment specifically intended for criminal activities such as burglary, emphasizing the state’s commitment to safeguarding property and maintaining public safety.
It’s essential for individuals to be aware of and comply with this statute to avoid involvement in unlawful activities and to uphold the principles of legal and ethical conduct within society.

Exceptions and Limitations

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

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

Becoming a locksmith in Wisconsin offers opportunities for self-employment or joining existing locksmith businesses. While no specific license is required, individuals must adhere to state business regulations.

Essential qualifications include being 18 years or older, having mechanical aptitude, and obtaining a state-issued business license or a city-issued license.

Although formal education isn’t mandatory, locksmith training, apprenticeships, and professional certifications are beneficial. The industry is competitive, with the main challenge being customer acquisition.

Despite this, locksmiths can earn an average salary ranging from $50,000 to $60,000 annually.

Legal Consequences

In Wisconsin, illegal lock picking carries significant penalties to deter unlawful activities. Depending on the severity of the offense and other factors, penalties can include fines ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars, as well as imprisonment for a period of months to years.

For instance, fines for misdemeanor offenses related to illegal lock picking can range from $500 to $5,000, while felony charges may result in fines exceeding $10,000 and imprisonment ranging from one year to several years, or even longer for more serious offenses.

Additionally, individuals convicted of illegal lock picking may face other legal consequences, such as probation, community service, or restitution payments to victims.

It’s crucial for individuals to understand and abide by Wisconsin’s laws to avoid these harsh penalties and uphold lawful behavior.

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 , GeorgiaHawaii, Iowa, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri , Montana, New Hampshire , New Jersey , New Mexico , Oklahoma , Pennsylvania, Rhode Island , South Carolina , South Dakota , Utah , Vermont , West Virginia etc. have also similar regulations.


The legality of lock picking in Wisconsin depends on various factors. While the state doesn’t explicitly prohibit the practice, individuals must ensure they’re engaging in it responsibly and lawfully.

For students curious about the hobby or locksport enthusiasts, it’s important to approach lock picking with a clear understanding of the state laws and regulations.

Remember, legality is determined by intent, so using lock picking tools with the intent to commit a crime is illegal. By respecting the law and practicing lock picking as a hobby or sport, individuals can enjoy this skill while staying on the right side of the law.

So, to answer the question, “Is lock picking legal in Wisconsin?” Yes, it can be, as long as it’s done within the bounds of the law and with the right intentions.


What are the legal considerations for possessing lock picking tools in Wisconsin?

Regarding the legality of possessing lock picking tools in Wisconsin, while the state does not explicitly prohibit their possession, individuals must be mindful of their intent. Utilizing these tools with the intention to commit a crime, such as breaking into a building or room unlawfully, constitutes a violation of Wisconsin law.

Can lock picking be pursued as a recreational activity in Wisconsin without legal repercussions?

Yes, lock picking can indeed be pursued as a recreational activity in Wisconsin without facing legal repercussions. However, it’s crucial for practitioners to ensure they engage in the hobby responsibly and lawfully, refraining from any activities that may be construed as criminal, such as attempting to unlawfully enter premises.

Are there any specific guidelines or restrictions to adhere to when organizing lock picking-related events or clubs in Wisconsin?

In organizing lock picking-related events or clubs in Wisconsin, it’s essential to adhere to general legal principles and promote ethical practices. While there are no specific guidelines or restrictions governing such activities, organizers should prioritize safety measures and discourage any behavior that could be perceived as promoting illegal activities. This approach helps maintain a positive image of the hobby within the community and ensures compliance with state laws.


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

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