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Locksmith Crimes Cause Push for Licensing

Impersonating a locksmith could become a crime under legislation before Florida lawmakers that creates licensing standards for anyone who wants to make keys or pick locks for a living.

Sen. Victor Crist, R-Tampa, and Rep. Tom Anderson, R-Dunedin, have both filed bills that would create locksmith licensing standards to stop criminals who set up fake businesses in order to later break into a person's home, car or safe.

“I think we have an epidemic of crime growing through the locksmith industry because criminals are realizing why break a window or knock down a door when you can for $50 go get a business card, call yourself a locksmith, then go put the locks in and the safe in, then keep the combination or keep a key for yourself,” Crist said.

Currently, there is no statewide regulation of the locksmith services industry, but Miami-Dade County does have a local ordinance that affects the key makers. Other states, however, have looked at similar legislation. Both Maryland and Virginia have passed laws to root out phony locksmiths.

The legislation bans anyone from performing locksmith’s work or representing themselves as a locksmith unless their business is licensed, and requires 16 hours of training.

It would cap licensure fees at $800 for businesses employing one to five locksmiths and $1,600 for those employing six or more.

The measures (HB 301, SB 658) also set out provisions for the state to take action against impersonators or non-licensed entities that are in addition to any criminal proceedings. The state could seek a civil penalty of up to $10,000 for violating the licensing procedures.

“Legitimate locksmiths want this,” Crist said, noting that many don't want their reputations sullied by impersonators who are out to later commit a crime against a customer.

The House version of the bill has already passed in the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee and is now before the Public Safety and Domestic Security Policy Committee. The Senate version has not yet had a committee hearing.

8 Responses »

  1. While, licensing can be important for the consumer and the trade. I really dont believe it is the answer to the problem at hand. The problem at hand is not a few rouge locksmiths taking advantage of a consumer. It appears to be a world wide organized crime ring that has set up here in the united states. It appears to be run by Israeli visitors. These same companys are operating in canada also. The call themselves nationwide locksmiths. They claim to have highly trained technicians but I think the only training they get is how to rip off a customer. It seems to be evident by the methods they use. It is always the same and has been since I began watching these scammers. If you watch all of the stings you will hear the same statements comming out of their mouths. IE: Cannot pick, high security, must drill lock, you have to talk to the company etc.
    The answer to this problem is to throw the book at them. The FBI, Us Customs, Attorney Generals and even the police need to take this seriously. There are already laws on the books to use to clean this problem up. In the state of Illinois there is very strict licensing, but to date unlicensed scammers operate in the open boldly. Many locksmiths here feel the are being taxed and are getting no representation. The scammers will buy their license and adjust and exploit any loop hole. When they get caught they will just hire an attorney to cloud the waters and then make their escape. The notorious priceline locksmith was prosecuted by the Illinois attorney general. They just folded up and Became the now notorious Dependable locks inc. Yes the corporate shell game!! To this day they still have their license. They even hired an attorney who has filed suit against the Illinois Dept of Financial and Professional Regulation. So now the department who regulates licensing is running and ducking afraid to do their job in fear of lawsuits. These company Have amassed Millions by scamming consumers and it is just a drop in the bucket or a cost of dooing business fighting an placating the laws.
    I urge lawmakers to ensure the problem gets handled as opposed to just passing a law to feel good. These same types of companys are the ones who have been operating the moving scams, flower scams, carpet cleaning scams, air duct cleaning scams, tow truck scams, The Christmas time mall kiosk scams.
    These problems need law enforcement to handle them with laws that already exist.

    • BY the way I am not against licensing as it is important, but I just dont believe it is the real answer to ridding the industry of these con artists.

      • Well-written, Mike. I agree whole-heartedly. See for example, licensee YARON EREZ. On May 5, 2009, according to Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation's records was "fined due to unlicensed practice." Just five weeks later, the New-Yorker was issued a license bearing the number 191-000841. I wonder if he commutes...

  2. While licensing may not be the cure-all, it could be the catalyst that allows the consumer to gain protection from these scoundrels. In non-licensed states these opportunists run rampant with impunity because since there are no "laws broken", the consumer is forced to take expensive civil action against these thugs. Existing consumer protection laws are weak anbd cumbersome. Law enforcement personel have their hands tied and the consumers continue to suffer. It is high time those who have access to the security of the consumer become accountable to the consumer.
    The way I see it, it is a step in the right direction. The way it is, it is way too dificult for the consumer to be treated fairly. If the locksmiths want to provide protective and security services, they should be held accountable for their actions. If it becomes illegal to operate as a locksmith without a license, then either the unethical treatment of customers will be greatly reduced, The phoney locksmiths will go away, or the phony locksmiths can be prosecuted due to illegal activity. It would be nice if everyone played fairly, but as we have seen, there are practices that need to stop.

    • Licensing may be a correct approach to control this sort of crime, but as Mike note in his above message - enforcement is the solution.

      Too many people and organizations are seeing these licensing movements to be little more than either a way to push out competition or to generate a training market for associations and others selling training. The fee's, and training overheads do in fact push retired (but qualified) locksmiths out of the marketplace while at the same time restricting the free enterprise system this country was founded on.

  3. I feel that licensing is a start, but it will not solve the problem. As John states, the police have thier hands tied and as the way the ecomony is now-not enough man power to deal with every day stuff.
    These thugs, have enough money and resources not to worry about some small fine,etc. They have fancy lawyers.
    The thing that bothers me about licensing, is how is that going to be based. The licensing is going to cost the small locksmith more money, then they will have to pass the cost along to the comsumer, as it stands now, consumers want cheap as possible. Then you have the big companies like Home Depot. Lowes, Ace hardward, they have people rekeying locks, etc, so they will have to be licensed too or will they, or are they exempt?
    Locksmith business are struggling just to make it by, large companies like Lows, Ace, Home depot already selll locks, with such low price, the small locksmith has to make money somewhere, so that leaves the end of unlocking homes, business-which the consumers do not want to pay much for, consumers do not give the locksmith any respect as they do electricans, plumbers, etc. they are licensed also, and they charge alot. So all this is good for the consumer in some area's but not all area's. So slowly but surely by making licensing expensive-locksmith will have to pass the cost along, it is going to really make it hard to for them to make a living with it.

    Law makers really NEED to really look beyond one point of few. Law makers have in the past not looked very closly into passing a law what and how it effects the people and buisnesses.

    So before you leap into something as such YOU MUST OPEN YOU MIND AND EYES AND SEE the whole picture.

    There are already laws in the book about these illegal so-called locksmith in different states, and they have not help stop them or slow them down, like someone memtioned above the local courts and jails are over booked already, and the local law enforcement alreay have too much to handle. So by over taxing the courts and police. What could happen if the police get jammed with reall 911 stuff, they may not have enought staff to cover 911 and this illegal locksmith stuff.
    I do not have an answer for the illgeal locksmith stuff, but people need to look at the whole picture, please!!

    Just my 2-cents worth.

  4. i supported the state of new jersey to have all locksmiths licensed. i am one of the only licensed locksmiths in my area from the start. its been seven [ 7 ] and the state has done nothing to enforce the state law......they stil have their double full page ads and operate freely.no questions asked.i send all related articles { fax ] to my senators office hoping he will do something to get me off his back.

    by law we have to take days , for the required education - pay for all the expenses -we are doing everything required by law and yet the state has done nothing and the scammers are stil operating in full force.

    as i have stated before its a great concept but only if inforced.they are too big to be handled by the states as they have the means to operate and the state cant or won't do anything about it--we need the federal goverment to take over it seems

  5. I do support the licensing laws i do beleive it has its purpose. The ring of locksmiths that are ruining the reputation of the honest locksmith as well as the industry as a whole has to be stopped. I am in Texas and the problem here is all the out of stae locksmiths that have 800 numbers pretending to be local but in fact are not. These guys dont even have a real adress yet some how they are getting licensed. Bewre of the so called locksmiths that are working for 6 diffrent companies. Guys we are proffesionals with a uniqe and respectabale skill we need to preserve our integrity and our industry our livelyhood depends on it!