Is it true there’s an electronic device that can unpick pin tumbler locks or is this an urban myth? How vulnerable does this now make all mechanical keyways?

A: You must be talking about the SouthOrd E500XT Electric Lock Pick. This device is about 10-inches long and you push the picking needle and tension tool – which comprise an L-shaped stainless steel bar – into the keyway.

Typical medium and high security locks employ 5 or more pins to prevent the lock’s central cylinder from turning. The E500XT has an 8000-rpm motor that delivers powerful vibrations to knock the pins clear, allowing the tension tool to turn the lock mechanism in less than half a minute.

If this sort of attack is a risk use higher security keyways like ASSA ABLOY’S DiskLock PRO or the Binary Plus keyway from MLAA locksmiths. Binary Plus features additional traps and side springs to resists this sort of attack. An issue with this device from the point of view of a theif is that is sounds like a Nutri-Bullet full of washers – it’s loud – not ideal when it comes to discretion.

SouthOrd’s 5th generation E500XT Electric Lock Pick  can be powered by rechargeable Ni-Cad or NiMH batteries or standard Alkaline ‘C’ cell batteries and includes 4 picking needles, 4 tension tools, hex wrench, and a top grain leather case. The E500XT uses three ‘C’ Cell batteries. For locksmiths or security installers who want one, cost is around $175.