East Bay News

Oakland residents upset over lockpicking workshop

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

City leaders in Oakland have been getting some angry e-mails lately from some of the people they serve. Mayor Jean Quan is the major target after her newsletter appears to promote a class designed to teach people how to pick a lock. In a city with a crime problem, it's easy to see why they're not happy.

The name of the class appears among 40 others in the catalog for the upcoming "Workshop Weekend" in Oakland, right alongside things like "robot building." It's a 3-hour class called "Introduction to Lockpicking" and it was listed on Quan's newsletter, something some residents found troubling.

"I honestly feel that a lot of people should not have these skills. They shouldn't have these skills," Oscar Ruiz said.

"Residents definitely had a big reaction," said City Council Member Libby Schaaf.

She says she has already received many complaints from residents. Some of the emails use words like "appalled" and "unbelievable."

"It's a very positive event, but I do wish they had worded it differently. It just shows insensitivity to the hundreds and hundreds of people in Oakland who have been victimized by burglary this year," Schaaf said.

In a statement, Mayor Jean Quan acknowledged that she too has heard from constituents. "I understand their reaction and I apologize. The class is part of a do-it-yourself, garage-science sort of event, and those are popular in our creative community, but it strikes the wrong note when we're doing everything we can to bring down crime," she said.

At the end of the catalog description, it says students must either bring their own lockpick tools or they can purchase a set. Randy Reed is an Oakland locksmith and president of the California Locksmith Association.

"It's not illegal to buy and sell lockpicks in California, but it is odd to promote it. Many of our customers feel very weird about the fact that lockpicks might be for sale to the general public," he said.

The group teaching this weekend's workshop is called The Open Organisation Of Lockpickers (T.O.O.O.L). They say they mean no harm and add that "knowing about the weaknesses in certain locks protects the public; it does not aid criminals."

According to the online catalog, this weekend's lockpicking workshop is completely sold out.

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Tags:
oakland, crime, jean quan, east bay news, laura anthony
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