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Unlicensed locksmiths prey on customers

Posted: 4:34 AM, Sep 15, 2015
Updated: 2015-09-15 04:34:06-04

Code Enforcement investigators intentionally call on illegal locksmiths for help. The department enforces the ordinance that mandates locksmiths in Hillsborough undergo a background check and register their business.

Glenda, who lives in South Tampa, had no idea she had called an unlicensed locksmith after locking herself out of her condo. She never realized licensed locksmith in Hillsborough County carry a permit.

The tech she called charged her triple what he quoted over the phone after unlocking her basic door lock in a matter of seconds.

An I-Team undercover investigation exposed locksmiths using deceptive ads and bait and switch tactics  all over the bay area. The story prompted Hillsborough County Commission to pass a locksmith ordinance in 2013.

But enforcement operations like the one conducted earlier this month prove the problem persists. On this day, investigators say they caught two locksmiths operating without a license in north Tampa.

Omri Eventsor with E-T Locksmith will face a hearing and fine if he does not register with the county. It’s not something he wanted to discuss with us.

On another day, code enforcement shoots video of yet another locksmith who they tell us is in violation of the county ordinance.

While Hillsborough officials crackdown on unlicensed locksmiths most Florida counties do not have any licensing requirements. These guys often cross county lines. It makes enforcement next to impossible and places the responsibility for vetting these strangers that unlock your car doors and dead bolts on customers.

Hillsborough county has created a locksmith license page. It lists more than 80 licensed locksmiths. http://www.hillsboroughcounty.org/DocumentCenter/View/11753

If you are not in Hillsborough County your best bet is to use a locksmith with a brick and mortar address, one whose complaint record you can check with the Better Business Bureau at bbb.org or local consumer protection offices in Pinellas or Hillsborough Counties.