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Illinois License Number: 191.000862

Outside the Box Day

Today was a thinking outside the box locksmithing day.  My first job was a car lockout on a Honda CRV where the customer had locked the keys inside the car on the seat.  I spent quite a few minutes (in the rain) trying to unlock the car using the usual buttons/manual unlock.  I later discovered the manual unlock needed to be pushed in to unlock, instead of pulling it out.  In a last ditch effort I flipped the keys on the seat over and pushed the button the keys to unlock the doors - that was a first.

My last job of the day was a house lockout.  Once again I was stymied by the locks.  I had tried both the front door (where I was able to unlock the screen door, but not the deadbolt) and the garage door.  I decided to take a look at the back door and see if there was an opportunity there.  After determining the garage door was the best bet I was walking back around the house and noticed the garage had a service door.  I decided to take the easy way out of this one.  I removed the service door deadbolt from the door, decoded the lock and cut a new key by code which unlocked the door.  Not only had the customer gotten into their house, but they also got a new working key for their house.

I Called Another Locksmith

I just got back from a lockout for a customer who had called another locksmith, but after waiting an hour in the cold the customer decided to try to find someone local.  Luckily she found me on her next search.  I arrived at her house within 15 minutes and had the door unlocked a few minutes later.  She was unable to contact the other locksmith to cancel and he still hadn't shown by the time I left - I wonder if he ever showed up.  I asked her why she chose the locksmith she chose and she told me his listing was the first one that came up on her internet search.  She learned a lesson; The first result isn't always the closest to you.  Many companies pay to be the first result.

After we were inside she told me she had just seen a news special about locksmiths and the recommendation was to get to know who your local locksmith is before you actually need them to avoid being scammed.  She wasn't scammed in this case, but she could have saved herself a lot of time by knowing which locksmiths are actually local to her and can be relied upon to arrive in a timely fashion.  Now she knows about us and is prepared for her future needs.

The other interesting thing about the locksmith she chose was the $15 price advertised online isn't really the price.  She was told it would be a $15 service call fee, but to get her in the house would be an extra $65 to $150.  My service call fee is $60 for her zip code, but that's all you'll pay 99% of the time, because I can actually pick your lock to get you into your house 99% of the time.  So the $15 locksmith's lowest price would have been $80, but who here really believes the additional fees would have been closer to $65 as opposed to the $150?

For Lock Geeks

This one is for the lock geeks.  I got to a lockout today that had Schlage Secure Key locks, which in the past I have had no trouble with.  Today, however, I just couldn't get the locks to open.  After a while of trying I noticed that the door was over latched, meaning the dead latch (Picture Attached) was in the strike hole, making the door much less secure.  Good news for me.  The door opened outward.  So I had to get something to release the latch from the backside.  I borrowed a zip tie from the customer and used it to pull the latch in and open the door.  Always thinking outside the box.

Rekeyed Before

This one happened a couple of weeks ago, but I had a computer outage that same day (I dropped it) and haven't had a chance to post about it since then.  I was called to re-key a house.  All was going fine until I pulled the first lock apart.  It had been re-keyed before, and not in a good way.  I called the customer over and showed her everything that was wrong with the lock.  The previous "locksmith" had only put pins in 3 of the 5 cylinders and had ground the shear line instead of creating a shear line with the correct pins.

It was at this point the customer told me she had had another "locksmith" out a couple of weeks prior to calling me and had her house re-keyed.  Everything seemed fine until her husband got home and tried his work key in the door and it opened.  Since the lock only had 3 of the 5 pins the security of the lock was reduced significantly.  The grinding of the lock may also have increased the size of the shear line by a few thousands of an inch, which can be a significant amount in a lock.

I discussed with the customer the idea of replacing all of the locks, but we decided that with all 5 cylinders pinned the security would be good enough, even with the compromised shear line.  Upon reloading the top pins I realized why the last guy only did 3 of the cylinders.  These locks were very old Schlages which had extremely long cylinders, which made placing the middle top pins extremely difficult.  It took me a little longer than usual, but I was able to load all 5 of the pins in all of the locks and left the house much more secure than when I arrived.