A group of men picking bulky locks in a quiet alley in Hamburg sounds like a sure case for dialing 911 on the double. But it's all very respectable -- the nimblest will even win an unusual sporting tournament.
This one's a cakewalk
If you've ever stood frustrated in front of your locked car or apartment door with the key inside, you might appreciate the goings-on in Hamburg's Lokstedt district.
The 9th annual German Championship in Lock-Opening here brings together a special breed of people whose passion it is to excel at breaking open the toughest of locks.
The conversation is all about comparing the merits of skeleton keys, discussing the nitty-gritty of security technology and the like. But the centerpiece is undoubtedly the picking of the most intricate locks.
Tools of the trade
The tournament includes different segments such as "hand opening" which involves prising open fairly common cylindrical locks with sharp metal cutlery, "lightning opening" where all participants have to snap open the locks of their opponents within a minute and "freestyle" where electrical aids are allowed.
It might all sound a bit dubious. But Steffen Wernery, organizer and head of the association "Friends of Lock Technology Germany" told German news agency dpa that the "lock sportsmen", as the lock lovers call themselves, must possess honesty, integrity and a sharp mind.
"Our members come from all professions: In addition to professional key makers, there are doctors and pilots, housewives, policemen and even a judge," Wernery said.