Love Picking: Locksport meets love locks

All over the world, couples have caught a memetic virus that causes them to festoon fences, trees, railings and other objects with padlocks that represent the love between them.

And all over the world, municipal authorities are aggressively removing these locks and sending them off to the smelters.

The Open Organization of Lockpickers (Toool), locksport's wonderful ambassadors, have a project to rescue these locks from the smelter's furnace. "Love Picking": "the act of non-destructively opening Love Locks using pick tools, shims, and other such methods so as to preserve them and eventually relocate them elsewhere… typically someplace where they will still be on public display but will be safe from the threat of bolt cutters, angle grinders, and municipal recycling buckets."

Update: Mey Lean Kronemann writes, "thanks for your article about Lovepicking. I am the artist/hacker who originally came up with it.

Toool's page sets out the rules for ethical Love Picking.

Ethical Rules for Love Picking

1. Public Locks Only – The first Golden Rule of all sportpicking is "Do not pick locks that don't belong to you." Thus, Love Picking can only be considered OK if you are working with locks that local ordinance would define as "abandoned property" and which therefore do not belong to anyone else. This may seem like a stretch, but what we wish to make clear is that it is NOT ok to pick locks — even "unused" Love Locks — if they are on private property or otherwise not in a public space.

2. Threatened Locks Only – This takes the above principle a step farther… TOOOL finds locks beautiful and we applaud the sentiment behind Love Locks. Therefore, if any city or municipality does not take action to remove Love Locks, we feel that sport pickers should similarly refrain from opening them. We only support the picking of Love Locks in places where they are regularly cut off by work crews or maintenance teams.

3. Pick to Preserve & Display – Love Locks that are removed as part of a sportpicking outing should not sit idle in someone's personal collection, nor should they be kept as trophies on someone's shelf. A Love Lock, once opened by Love Picking, should ultimately be locked closed again… ideally on some other artistic structure, and one that is designed for this purpose and which will not be subject to removal.

4. Care & Kindness Trump Speed & Glory – While sportpicking competitions often feature boastful posturing and frenzied hand movements as everyone involved seeks the fastest times and the highest rank, we feel that Love Picking should be conducted with an atmosphere of casual camaraderie. At the end of the day, measuring the total weight of the locks that have been removed may be permissible as a matter of interest… but anything to do with stopwatches, leader boards, and other features typical of events like LockCon are out of place, in our view.

Love Picking [Toool]