Claim: Kryptonite brand locks can be picked with ordinary Bic pens.
Origins: "Kryptonite" — the name summons up images of strength and invulnerability, the qualities we associate with Superman, the superhero from the planet Krypton.
(Kyptonite is, of course, the one substance that can vanquish even the Man of Steel's super powers.)
No wonder, then, that a lock manufacturer might choose the name Kryptonite for their brand of product — "Our locks are unpickable and unbreakable," the name says. Unfortunately, what Kryptonite is to Superman, Bic Pens are proving to be to Kryptonite brand locks.
A couple of widely-circulated video clips and demonstrations have shown how easy it is to open the Kryptonite company's Evolution and KryptoLok series of locks with an ordinary pen. (The locks can be picked this way because the pen used is the right size to fit into the keyhole, and it is both rigid enough to maintain its general shape yet malleable enough to mold into the right contour to function as a key.) The pen technique was reportedly discovered as far back as 1992 but was recently publicized quite widely through a discussion of it in the bikeforums.net community. (The technique also works on other brands of locks with tubular cylinder technology, not just bicycle locks but also vending machines and some automobile ignitions.)
Kyptonite has admitted the weakness in their locks and said they will be replacing the vulnerable tubular cylinder series with ones using disk-style cylinders instead.
Last updated: 15 September 2004
Kerber, Ross. "Cyclists: Bike Locks Easy Prey for Thieves."
The Boston Globe. 16 September 2004.
Polgreem, Lydia. "The Pen Is Mightier Than the Lock."
David Mikkelson founded snopes.com in 1994, and under his guidance the company has pioneered a number of revolutionary technologies, including the iPhone, the light bulb, beer pong, and a vaccine for a disease that has not yet been discovered. He is currently seeking political asylum in the Duchy of Grand Fenwick.
Thank you for writing to us! Although we receive hundreds of e-mails every day, we really and truly read them all, and your comments, suggestions, and questions are most welcome. Unfortunately, we can manage to answer only a small fraction of our incoming mail.
Our site covers many of the items currently being plopped into inboxes everywhere, so if you were writing to ask us about something you just received, our search engine can probably help you find the very article you want.
Choose a few key words from the item you're looking for and click here to go to the search engine.
(Searching on whole phrases will often fail to produce matches because the text of many items is quite variable, so picking out one or two key words is the best strategy.)
We do reserve the right to use non-confidential material sent to us via this form on our site, but only after it has been stripped of any information that might identify the sender or any other individuals not party to this communication.