Friday, June 06, 2008

Texas Unlicensed Locksmiths Arrested

I got my June issue of The National Locksmith and read Marc Goldberg’s article which starts off, “The state of Texas has just begun a major crackdown on locksmiths who are operating without a license.” This started after a complaint from the West Texas Locksmith Association and since then at least ten have been arrested for working as locksmiths or alarm installers without BENEFIT of the state license.

I bolded the word BENEFIT, it helped as I was puking in the trash can; BENEFIT, what benefit?
I thought maybe I didn’t understand the meaning of the word so I looked up some of the associated thoughts; advantage, profit, help, assistance, promote, gain, subsidy and allowance. On the other hand, under antonym were detriment and suffer.

I’d have to say that locksmith licenses fall into the category of detriment and suffer far more easily than the word BENEFIT. Marc pointed out the purpose of locksmith licensing; but is that what’s really happening?

“The law is intended to weed out (bad) people in the industry to protect the general public.”

Define bad people for me in such a way as to justify denying a person the right to work. If you’re not behind bars for a crime, then you are not considered a danger to society; or am I mistaken? ( just poking a little fun with the total disaster we call the criminal justice system) Again I ask, define bad people in such a way as to justify denying a person the right to work; be very specific which crimes make you a bad person.

A few years ago I needed to paint my house; more specifically, I wanted to re-paint it with the same colors that were on it. My home owners association kept turning my request down because, in their own terms, it had to be painted in “earth tones”. What these folks wanted were muted earth tones, kind of grey mud with a hint of brown; but there is no such requirement in the deed restrictions. My house had been tan with dark brown trim since I’ve owned it; define earth tones. They couldn’t produce a list of “approved earth tones” and eventually I was grudgingly permitted to re-paint the exterior in order to maintain the “value of the neighborhood”. To hell with the value of the neighborhood, this was my house, my investment, it needed painting and I wanted to paint it to my satisfaction.

“Capt. Renearl Bowie, who directs the Texas Department of Public Safety’s Private Security Bureau (DPS/PSB), which is in charge of licensing security services companies and enforcing the licensing law, said state law bars people from getting a license if they were convicted of a felony in the past 20 years, a Class A misdemeanor in the past 10 years, and a Class B misdemeanor in the past five years, with some exceptions.”

This does not adequately define a bad person; actually it sets the stage for shot gunning anyone and everyone who makes a mistake and to eliminate competition. I hope somebody takes this on, takes it all the way to the highest levels of our justice system.

Dropping down in the article I found an instance where, no doubt about it, a really bad person was arrested for promoting himself as a locksmith.

“Juan Campos, owner and operator of Manny’s Lock and Key, said he was denied a state locksmith license because of drunken-driving convictions…”

I recognize the fact that getting arrested for DWI is not a great character trait nor is it something you’d want to advertise on the front page of your resume; but is this a reason to deny a person his/her right to work as a locksmith? The questions should be, does Juan Campos know how to work on locks and is he honest; not does he drink too much after getting off work. I’m sorry but the DPS/PSB has arbitrarily established a standard which goes far beyond protecting the public from unscrupulous locksmiths and has taken upon itself some other function never intended.

“Campos said he’s been a locksmith 18 years in a business his father started 23 years ago.”

It sounds more like some folks in the West Texas Locksmith Association, certain prim and proper elitists have found a way to get rid of their competition. On the other hand, if these folks are illegal aliens, well that’s a horse of a different color; throw them back across the border and be done with it. This is America, a place where you shouldn’t have to have a license to go to work in most jobs; at least it used to be that way until we all decided to become professionals.

I can go along with some “professions”, doctors and dentists, having to get licensed and maybe engineers too; but to deny a license to a man whose been a locksmith for 18 years, claiming he’s a bad person because he’s been arrested for DWI; shaking my head doesn’t come close to how that rubs me wrong and I’m not supposed to express myself with crude and unacceptable words, words which at one time easily flew from my mouth in the past. How many doctors have to give up being doctors because they had a few too many and got pulled over?

The locksmith industry got along just fine without licensing for hundreds of years, thank you Judy Clifford at Anchor Safe and Lock for reminding me of that fact. Certain individuals wanted to elevate the locksmith from being “tradesman” to being “professionals”, whatever that is, as if the world would somehow embrace locksmiths at the country club simply by calling us professionals.

“I’m a professional, that’ll cost you an extra $20 at least.”

I wear blue jeans and get my hands dirty, I drive a service truck and don’t have time to play golf so I must not be a real professional locksmith like I should be now that I’ve bent over backwards for the DPS/PSB, gotten my license and forked over plenty of hard earned money to those monkeys. Each time I have to renew that license I feel the veins in my neck start to swell. I resist the urge to strangle those helpful bureaucrats, the ones who decide the rules of the game. I send in my tribute money, bow and genuflect and let it go until the next time.

I tried to let my state representative, Debbie Riddle, understand how the DPS/PSB had become tyrannical as they go about the business of destroying the locksmith industry; don’t think I did all that good a job. Somehow the idea of Americans getting together in groups to decide how other individuals with similar interests seemed like a good thing to her. Locksmiths and state bureaucrats should decide how other individual locksmiths run their business, conform to standards and all that; disregard the free market where competence and a competitive spirit determine how the weak are naturally taken down, where those who are not able to get the job done go out of business; no, we have to license everyone. Spit!


Chris said...

Move over on that soapbox.... I'm 2/3 through Foley's course on locksmithing. I love it, and really plan on making a career out of it after investing (poorly) 15 years into a mom and pop copier dealership in central Texas. They're "good" people, you know, church 3x a week, staunch republicans, and dump on the very people that made them their millions, but I digress.

The DPS having any control over locksmithing whatsoever makes ZERO sense to me. Really, the DPS? Didn't know I could stick plates on a lock and drive it around. DPS, Really?! I personally think they should spend more time and resources on patrolling our interstates for drunks and speeders than policing someone trying to put food on the table for our families. I've really no problem with registrations, even fingerprinting, after all, the skills even I have at this point with a pick are scary. Granted, no one wants just any and everybody to have those skills. Then again, I had all the picks I needed before even beginning this course. Its called, I own a dremel tool, and just changed the wipers on my car. Great material for picks :-)

Anyway, I'm sure it'll get worse before better, if murphy has anything to do with it. But really, $300 a year just to BE?! I'm figuring, conservatively, that I'll be out over $600 by the time I take the locksmith exam, the manager's exam, get my 2 year card and my 1 year license, fingerprinting, background check, etc. Too bad Foley doesn't see fit to include state specific regulations with their "opportunity" pack. Would have been nice to know that I could literally double the $600 tuition to just be a mobile locksmith.

*sigh* I could go on for hours, but thanks for posting this blog!

-another struggling locksmith to be in texas

Dave said...

some two bit company turned me in and i went to jail and i had a damn license. I dont care about a license and will continue to operate and grow my company, Security Locksmith. Its all i have and the only way u can make money. We pride ourselves in our competitive pricing and integrity. If we as companys all got together we could stop this nonesense way to license us. the 'test'?? there is not anything remotly relivent on it!!

T. F. Stern said...


I'm afraid the socialists now run America and the best we can do is minimize the damage they have done and will continue to do to what used to be a free market system. There are not enough Tums for the Tummy to get rid of the excess acid created by these monkeys. Hang in there and put up a good fight.

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