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In a discussion on a pick-up truck car wheel theft, one person gave an advice to the victim that he "should have bought some locking lugs". This advice was disapproved by someone else in the discussion and said that it's not useful, "all you have to do is hammer a socket on it and pop it off, not hard to do."

I'm trying to visualize how this works. What is a socket, how does it look like? All I know of a socket is the ones on a wall that you put a plug into in order to connect electrical equipment. Another relevant definition I found is "a device intended to hold an electric light bulb mechanically and connect it electrically to circuit wires." I'm not sure what this is, but I don't think it's what he's describing.

So you hammer this socket on the locking lugs, by the way, after looking it up I realized that the person may have misunderstood about locking lugs and I think he meant locking lug nuts, which is a fastener used to secure a wheel on a vehicle that requires a special wrench to remove it. So you pop off this lug nut after you hammered a socket on it. Pop I checked means "to suddenly break open or come away from something often with a short, loud noise". So I'm assuming this involves some kind of tool as well in order to pop it off? How does this work, what am I visualizing? What is a socket?

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

The person who wrote about hammering a socket onto a locking lug and popping it off probably should have more precisely referred to locking lug nuts, which is what the original poster meant by locking lugs. Here are pictures (from alltradetools.com, jegs.com, and elementauto.com) of a small socket set and several kinds of locking lug nuts:

socket setlug nutlug nuts

Note that sockets are made to fit fairly closely onto certain sizes of nuts. The reason for hammering a socket on is to force a slightly-too-small socket onto the locking lug. Apparently that will work on some of the locking lug nuts shown above, but some will be immune to that approach.

Once the socket is firmly attached to the lug nut, by applying enough torque to the socket (via a cheater bar) one can break the lock, or break the lug the lug nut is screwed onto; ie can “pop off” the nut.

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They mean the sockets you get with a socket set. If you don't have the key socket you can get the nuts of by hammering a normal socket on.

This damages the socket (and the lug) so it wouldn't be cost-free to the thief. Really, that technique is more use to someone who has lost their key as it is then worth the hassle of damaging a tool if they can't change their tire otherwise. A thief can just go and look for someone with more easily stolen tyres.

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