Are Lockpicks Legal in Australia and New Zealand?

This page does not constitute legal advice. These are the laws I can find relating to the possession and use of lock picks in Australia and New Zealand. This is not an exhaustive list so there might be other legislation out there that regulate this hobby and its tools that I have missed.

The relevant text of the legislation sections can be found at the end of this article.

Possession of lock picking tools in and of itself is not illegal. In Australia and New Zealand, intent to commit a crime must be established before the possession of lock picking tools becomes illegal. For example, crowbars and hammers can be used as burglary tools, but until intent is shown or a crime is committed they cannot be considered burglary tools. The same goes for lockpicking tools. For more detailed information consult the document below: https://www.sentencingcouncil.vic.gov.au/sites/sentencingcouncil.vic.gov.au/files/review_of_maximum_penalties_for_preparatory_offences_report.pdf

Australian Capital Territory

Criminal Code 2002

Section 315 – Going equipped for theft etc

  1. A person commits an offence if the person, in any place other than the person’s home, has with the person an article with intent to use it in the course of or in relation to theft or a related offence.Maximum penalty: 300 penalty units, imprisonment for 3 years or both.
  2. In this section:”related offence” means any of the following: (a) robbery; (b) aggravated robbery; (c) burglary; (d) aggravated burglary; (e) an offence against section 318 (Taking etc motor vehicle without consent); (f) obtaining property by deception.

New South Wales

Crimes Act 1900

Section 114 – Being armed with intent to commit indictable offence

  1. Any person who: (a) is armed with any weapon, or instrument, with intent to commit an indictable offence, (b) has in his or her possession, without lawful excuse, any implement of housebreaking or safebreaking, or any implement capable of being used to enter or drive or enter and drive a conveyance, (c) has his or her face blackened or otherwise disguised, or has in his or her possession the means of blacking or otherwise disguising his or her face, with intent to commit an indictable offence, (d) enters or remains in or upon any part of a building or any land occupied or used in connection therewith with intent to commit an indictable offence in or upon the building, shall be liable to imprisonment for seven years.
  2. For the purposes of subsection (1) (b) “conveyance” means any cab, carriage, motor car, caravan, trailer, motor lorry, omnibus, motor or other bicycle, or any ship, or vessel, used in or intended for navigation, and “drive” shall be construed accordingly.

New Zealand

Crimes Act 1961

Section 233 – Being disguised or in possession of instrument for burglary

  1. Every one is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 years who, without lawful authority or excuse, – (a)has in his or her possession any instrument capable of being used for burglary with intent to use it for such a purpose; or (b)has his or her face covered or is otherwise disguised with intent to commit any imprisonable offence.
  2. If any person is convicted of being in possession of an instrument for burglary, the court may, if it thinks fit, order the instrument to be forfeited to the Crown or disposed of as the court directs at the expense of the convicted person, and may order the person to pay any reasonable cost incurred by the Commissioner of Police in retaining the instrument.

Queensland

Summary Offences Act 2005

Section 15 – Possession of implement in relation to particular offences

  1. A person must not possess an implement that is being, or is to be, used— (a) for burglary of a dwelling; or (b) for unlawfully entering a place; or (c) for entering a vehicle with intent to commit an indictable offence; or (d) to steal or unlawfully use a vehicle; or (e) to unlawfully injure a person; or (f) to unlawfully damage property. Maximum penalty – 20 penalty units or 1 year’s imprisonment.
  2. A person must not possess an implement that has been used – (a) for burglary of a dwelling; or (b) for unlawfully entering a place; or (c) for entering a vehicle with intent to commit an indictable offence; or (d) to steal or unlawfully use a vehicle; or (e) to unlawfully injure a person; or (f) to unlawfully damage property. Maximum penalty – 20 penalty units or 1 year’s imprisonment.
  3. For subsection (2), it is a defence for the person to prove that the person’s possession of the implement was not connected to any involvement by the person in the preparation of the offence or in any criminal responsibility in relation to the offence. Note – See the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act 2000, section 634 for safeguards applying to starting proceedings for offences against this section and sections 16 and 17.

Criminal Code Act 1899

Section 425 – Possession of things used in connection with unlawful entry

  1. Any person who is found under any of the circumstances following, that is to say— (a) being armed with any dangerous or offensive weapon or instrument, or a noxious substance, and being so armed with intent to break or enter a dwelling or premises, and to commit an indictable offence therein; (b) having in his or her possession anything intended for use in or in connection with the commission of an offence defined in section 419 or 421; (c) having in the person’s possession by night without lawful excuse, the proof of which lies on the person, any instrument of housebreaking; (d) having in the person’s possession by day any such instrument with intent to commit an indictable offence; (e) having his or her face masked or blackened or being otherwise disguised, with intent to commit an indictable offence; is guilty of a crime, and is liable to imprisonment for 3 years.
  2. If the offender has been previously convicted of a crime relating to property, the offender is liable to imprisonment for 7 years.

Tasmania

Criminal Code 1924

Section 248 – Being armed, &c., with intent to commit a crime

Any person who is found –

(a) armed with any dangerous or offensive weapon or instrument, with intent to commit a crime; (b) having in his possession without lawful excuse any instrument for making an entry into a place to which this chapter applies; (c) having his face masked or blackened, or being otherwise disguised, with intent to commit a crime; or (d) in any place to which this chapter applies with intent to commit a crime therein – is guilty of a crime.

Charge:

Being found prepared for the commission of a crime.

South Australia

Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935

Section 270C – Going equipped for commission of offence of dishonesty or offence against property

  1. A person who is, in suspicious circumstances, in possession of an article intending to use it to commit an offence to which this section applies is guilty of an offence. Maximum penalty— (a)if the maximum penalty for the intended offence is life imprisonment or imprisonment for 14 years or more—imprisonment for 7 years; (b)in any other case—imprisonment for one-half the maximum period of imprisonment fixed for the intended offence.
  2. This section applies to the following offences: (a)theft (or receiving) or an offence of which theft is an element; (b)an offence against Part 6A (Serious Criminal Trespass); (c)unlawfully driving, using or interfering with a motor vehicle; (d)an offence against Part 5 Division 6 (Dishonest Dealings with Documents); (e)an offence against Part 5 Division 7 (Dishonest Manipulation of Machines); (f)an offence involving interference with, damage to or destruction of property punishable by imprisonment for 3 years or more.
  3. A person is in suspicious circumstances if it can be reasonably inferred from the person’s conduct or circumstances surrounding the person’s conduct (or both) that the person— (a)is proceeding to the scene of a proposed offence; or (b)is keeping the scene of a proposed offence under surveillance; or (c)is in, or in the vicinity of, the scene of a proposed offence awaiting an opportunity to commit the offence.

Western Australia

Criminal Code Act 1913

Section 407 – Person found armed etc. with intent to commit crime

Any person who is found under any of the circumstances following, that is to say —

(a) Being armed with any dangerous or offensive weapon or instrument, and being so armed with intent to enter a place, and to commit an offence therein; or [(b) deleted] (c) Having in his possession by night without lawful excuse, the proof of which lies on him, any instrument of housebreaking; or (d) Having in his possession by day any such instrument with intent to commit an offence; or (e) Having his face masked or blackened or being otherwise disguised, with intent to commit an offence;

is guilty of a crime, and is liable to imprisonment for 3 years. Summary conviction penalty: imprisonment for 2 years and a fine of $24 000. [Section 407 amended by No. 37 of 1991 s. 13(2); No. 51 of 1992 s. 16(2); No. 4 of 2004 s. 67; No. 70 of 2004 s. 35(2); No. 84 of 2004 s. 27(3).] [407A. Deleted by No. 106 of 1987 s. 17.]