Not a locksmith but. . .

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Several articles have mentioned the TSA-approved locks. My wife and I had been using the plastic cable ties instead of locks, as the locks put a great deal of strain on the loops of the zippers and have even caused some of the loops to break off.

In April ’06 we took a trip to the Galápagos with Stanford University and they advised us to use the TSA locks when traveling in South America, so we dutifully traipsed off to the lock store and bought two of them.

The locks are made by CCL Security Products of Wheeling, Illinois. On each lock is the word “Prestolock” as well as the letters “TSA 004.” The instructions refer to the lock as a SearchAlert; I believe this is because it has a window that turns from green to red if the lock has been opened and closed using the TSA opening.

Curious to see exactly what the mysterious TSA system was all about, I examined the lock and immediately got a bad feeling about what I was looking at. I bent a heavy paper clip into a shape that would fit the hole, and in about 10 seconds the lock popped open. After another five seconds I had it back together.

I am neither a locksmith nor a thief, but if I can open one of these after looking at it for 10 seconds, I would imagine that people who make it their business to know how to break into things have added this to their bag of tricks long ago.

Needless to say, we went back to using the plastic ties.

Understand that I am in no way trying to do damage to the business of the lock manufacturers, but I feel that people need to know exactly how much protection they are actually getting when they put their trust in these locks.

DAVID RIEGERT

Reno, NV

Please login or subscribe to ITN to read the entire post.

Several articles have mentioned the TSA-approved locks. My wife and I had been using the plastic cable ties instead of locks, as the locks put a great deal of strain on the loops of the zippers and have even caused some of the loops to break off.

In April ’06 we took a trip to the Galápagos with Stanford University and they advised us to use the TSA locks when traveling in South America, so we dutifully traipsed off to the lock store and bought two of them.

The locks are made by CCL Security Products of Wheeling, Illinois. On each lock is the word “Prestolock” as well as the letters “TSA 004.” The instructions refer to the lock as a SearchAlert; I believe this is because it has a window that turns from green to red if the lock has been opened and closed using the TSA opening.

Curious to see exactly what the mysterious TSA system was all about, I examined the lock and immediately got a bad feeling about what I was looking at. I bent a heavy paper clip into a shape that would fit the hole, and in about 10 seconds the lock popped open. After another five seconds I had it back together.

I am neither a locksmith nor a thief, but if I can open one of these after looking at it for 10 seconds, I would imagine that people who make it their business to know how to break into things have added this to their bag of tricks long ago.

Needless to say, we went back to using the plastic ties.

Understand that I am in no way trying to do damage to the business of the lock manufacturers, but I feel that people need to know exactly how much protection they are actually getting when they put their trust in these locks.

DAVID RIEGERT

Reno, NV