It's the kind of skill normally picked up only on the street, but Machine Project, a nonprofit community space in Los Angeles, held a workshop covering the basics of lock mechanics.
"The Good Kids' Guide to Being a Bit Bad: Cars Edition" taught a group of children, aged 7 and up, the ins and outs of breaking into and hot-wiring cars. Instructors and writers Tom Jennings and Jason Torchinsky introduced the pint-sized students to the tools of this illicit trade, such as putty knives and coat hangers, and explained how they can be used to trigger locks from the outside.
But at the heart of any good workshop are real-world applications that reinforce newly learned concepts. To help students put their new knowledge to work, Jennings and Torchinsky allowed students to practice these new skills on Machine Project director Mark Allen's car, which appears to be an older Honda Accord.
Taking the lesson one step further, Jennings also demonstrated how to hot-wire the older-model car, but didn't allow the students to practice due to the risk of low-voltage shocks. This lesson is less likely to apply to newer-model cars, which require more esoteric methods of boosting.
But it's not all illegal tricks of the trade. The three-part workshop is educational and potentially life-saving. In addition to being taught how locks work, how to open car locks when you don't have a key, and how to hot-wire a car once you're on the inside, the kids were taught how to free themselves from a locked trunk. Older-model vehicles don't have an interior latch to open trunks from the inside, so the children were taught to locate and trigger the latch. Armed with the knowledge of how locks work, the children were able to practice getting out of locked car trunks. I'm not sure most adults know how to do that.
You may think that a workshop like this is contributing to the delinquency of a minor, but these could be life-or-death skills. Real-world examples and hands-on demonstrations are necessary to reinforce concepts, and the racy aspect of it makes learning fun. In the end, I doubt L.A. will experience a crime wave of 7-year-olds stealing cars, but I do hope that they were also taught that breaking into and stealing cars is bad.