I-Team investigation prompts crack down on locksmiths

Unregulated industry could soon face rules

TAMPA - Mechanics, moving companies, even telemarketers all have to be licensed or registered with the state to do business in Florida.  But not bay area locksmiths, whose ads fill up pages of Google searches and the local yellow pages.

Steven Wyman president of the Westcoast Locksmith Association says he has waited a decade for county commissioners to tackle what he calls an epidemic.

All seven commissioners voted to put teeth into a proposed ordinance aimed at taking a bite out of locksmith fraud.

Casey Kubly's complaint typifies what investigators have heard over and over.  We watched as a lock smith popped the lock on her car in St. Pete in a matter of minutes.  The $15 she says advertised online morphed into an $84 bill.

During an ongoing undercover I Team investigation, we found locked out consumers on both sides of the bay described a bait and switch.

In January, I shared our footage with Hillsborough Commission Chair Ken Hagan.  He convinced fellow commissioners of the need for a tough locksmith law.  Today he unveiled the provisions included in a proposed ordinance.

Now locksmiths who are doing honest business hold out hope regulation will weed out the bad guys.

The ordinance, if passed, will carry civil and criminal penalties. The board will consider a draft of the ordinance in August.

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