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.