I set the practice basket myself. I double checked it that day, and then the next day when I arrived and putted on it, I also checked the lock. It was definitely locked.
I don't know from personal experience, but a friend of ours said he had learned how to pick locks and with the correct tool it isn't difficult.
I also haven't tried it to see if it will unlock since the basket went missing, but if it was popped open with a hammer strike, it may not function properly.
It is possible someone with a key unlocked it and took it. That particular lock is different from the other 18 out there, and only the City and I have a key to it.
I don't think it was an "inside job". I don't think anyone is pissed about the course going in, nor pissed at us for installing it. We have had three baskets stolen in Olathe since 1989. I think someone just wanted one at their house or farm and figure the City's insurance will cover it and aren't afraid of being caught.
It just sucks for us that play out there, because now we don't have a place to practice putting and warm up near where we park.