Josh the Locksmith | Security 101 and Avoiding Scams | Worst Locksmith Experiences | SDP170

[Podcast] Guest Josh the Locksmith has been helping people get into their cars and homes for the past decade. He informally learned the craft on the side and then became a business owner and a successful locksmith. Working from Minneapolis-St. Paul metro, it’s not uncommon for a service call to result in a 200 mile round trip. This is an in-demand field. Josh educates us about working as a locksmith, memorable calls, and advice on home and property security.

IMAGE: Josh the Locksmith – Security and Scams – THE SAFETY DOC episode 170

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WHAT IS A LOCKSMITH. A locksmith is someone who works with locks on doors, windows, cars, safes, etc. Locksmiths install, repair, and adjust locks in everything from cars to office buildings, and they also offer services to people who are locked out or individuals who want to consult with someone about their security systems.

ARE LOCKSMITHS LICENSED. Doc assumed that locksmiths were licensed in each state and perhaps were members of a national association. However, Josh shared that in Minnesota, locksmiths aren’t required to be licensed. Upon further inquiry, Doc learned that most states don’t require locksmiths to be licensed or registered with a government agency. So, how do you know that a locksmith is legit?

SECURITY SCAMS – WHAT TO LOOK FOR. Josh noted that unsavory locksmith companies are a problem across the country and tend to pop-up for a short time and then vanish. When someone is searching the Internet for a locksmith, that person is probably stressed and will pursue the first results – these are sometimes the scammers. They offer a low rate service call, perhaps $15, and then once on scene, exaggerate the problem and technical effort required to resolve the matter. They might drill out your lock and stick you with a several hundred dollar bill. To avoid scams, Josh recommends that during the initial phone call to ask for a total cost as most locksmiths will provide that. A typical car or house unlock should be in the $75 ballpark.

WHAT ARE SOME THINGS YOU CAN TRY ON YOUR OWN? For your own property, Josh suggests people keep a long reach grabber and air wedge in their garage. Such vehicle entry kits are available on Amazon for $50. While getting into your car with the tools from a kit might be relatively easy, it can cost several hundred dollars to have a new vehicle key manufactured by a locksmith due to the chips and electronic fobs. But, Josh notes, modern vehicles are much more difficult to steal due to the complexity of the keys.

SECURITY 101. Josh advocates for every residence to have a deadbolt on exterior doors. In addition, the plate should be screwed into the support frame (not trim) of the door. This is often accomplished by using 3 inch screws. Another tip is to bathe your house and property in motion-sensing lights and even sirens. As for windows, Josh shared that 75% of forced entries are through doors and not windows. For some reason, criminals don’t want to break glass. Some final security advice is to not draw attention to your property with fancy decor or leaving valuable items in plain view.

BE A KAREN. Josh notes that people seldom ask him for identity and as long as he looks the role of a locksmith, he largely has access, without question, to locations. But, if something seems off, he suggests that you ask questions, “Excuse me, what are you doing?” He feels some sketchy behavior would be curtailed by people simply asking questions. Doc noted a popular short YouTube video of a man carrying a ladder as a way to make it appear that he has the authority to enter various locations – and he was granted access most of the time – simply because he “looks the part” and moves with authority.

BAD LOCKSMITH CALLS. One of the most prevalent situations Josh encounters is when people feel he has some sort of legal or police authority. This can be tricky when arriving to change locks due to domestic disputes. He also conducted a welfare check in which the occupant of the residence was dead. In addition, he opened a vehicle that had two bodies inside of it. Some of his calls resulted in generous tips – although, Josh notes, that’s not as common today. His business was unchanged during the pandemic. People weren’t asking him to engage in special disinfecting processes and he was unscathed by the essential – nonessential decrees.

CAMERAS AND DIGITAL LOCKS. Josh feels there is some deterrence value in surveillance cameras, but it’s not a part of his business. And, new keypad and electronic systems can be difficult or impossible to unlock without drilling out the lock.

FINAL TIP. Take a photo of the 5 digits punched into the top of your house key and keep it in a secure file on your phone. A locksmith can make a replacement key based upon those numbers.

This is episode 170 of The Safety Doc Podcast published on 02-22-2022.


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