Wednesday, July 03, 2019

Love Locks and Locksporting

One of the things I love about writing is that I have an excuse to learn about new things. “I’m looking into it for a book,” I say. “I’m not wasting time, I’m researching!”

In my reading journey over the last year or so, I read about love locks and the sport of lockpicking called locksporting. Ever since I read about it, I’ve wanted to put both of these things into a book. And now, I think I’ve found the story for them.

My current WIP, book 6 my Aurora Anderson series, is set in February so it seems like a great place to put in love locks. And, since my main character’s BFF, Liz, is really into lock picking, it seems like a good fit to me.

A love lock is a padlock that sweethearts affix to a bridge, monument or other public structure to symbolize their love. They usually place their initials or names and/or a date on the lock, then throw away the key (often into a nearby river or body of water) to symbolize their unbreakable love.

And, as you might guess, some cities have issues with this, particularly the keys being thrown into the water. The Pont des Arts bridge in Paris was a favorite location to affix locks. Until sections of the fencing started to crumble under the weight of all of those locks. So now, no more love locks on that bridge. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t love locks in other places. In fact, you can consult a map to find out where there’s a location near you by going to

 The other thing I’ve been researching is locksporting, the sport of lock picking. There are several organized lock picking contests each year. Lest you think that those who participate are all criminals, there are very strict rules they adhere to: “You may only pick locks that you own, or that you’ve been given explicit permission to pick by the registered owner.”

A lock that has been effectively abandoned by its owner and placed in a public place without securing anything (like love locks) may ethically be picked by a locksporter as long as it’s returned to its original locked position and state. As it turns out, a locksporter may also permanently remove or relocate the lock when lawfully and specifically sanctioned by an appropriate authority, like a city government and/or owner of the land the locks are on.

I figured it was important to know if owning lock picks is legal in the state of California where my series takes place. It turns out just owning them isn’t a problem as long as you use them as a hobbyist. If you pick a lock in exchange for money, even if it’s a friend who asked you to do it, you have to have a locksmithing license.

After all of this research, ideas are beginning to brew in my head and I think I may have a way to add love locks and locksporting to my story.


Susan D said...

I'm proud to say that in the late 1980s my new boyfriend (now my very long term boyfriend) showed me how to pick locks and gave me a set of picks he'd made himself.

Sybil Johnson said...

That's pretty cool. I don't think I would be any good at it. I live through my characters who are good at all of the things I'm not.