Announcement: Make sure your details are up to date on My Local Locksmith to get local work.

Is modern security locking out locksmiths?

The Locksmith Journal is always on the lookout for stories of real-life locksmithing and ‘front line’ experiences. Recently, a locksmith of 16 years got in touch with a call out he had to deal with that left him wondering: can some locks be so ‘secure’ against break ins that they are causing unnecessary problems for those that really do need to get into a door?

The job seemed simple enough from the call; a young woman was struggling to use her own key to get into her rented property. Before calling the locksmith – Roy – she had contacted the company that manage the property who had sent out one of their employees. His key had snapped in the lock.

When Roy attended, he was faced with a small, single door property; one room downstairs, two rooms upstairs. After the key had snapped in the lock, it became apparent that someone – maybe the property manager – had tried to bump and bang the part left in the lock, which had knocked it off centre. It quickly became apparent to Roy that this wasn’t coming out easily.

On closer inspection to the (what he now knew) was a cylinder lock, an additional safety escutcheon within presented a further problem. In a nutshell, it took two days’ work of drilling right through the lock before he could turn the cam. This was the only way the experienced locksmith could get into the lock – and the property – without damaging the client’s door.

Roy was quick to point out that many will ask why he didn’t enter through a window. In this case, he couldn’t prise or force his way in, and even inspected other neighbours’ windows from the inside (with their permission) to check if it was possible.

Luckily, the lady trying to get into the property – who also had a young child – was able to stay with her parents nearby while the two-day job was carried out by the experience locksmith. This obviously won’t always be the case.

The issue that Roy had with this call-out, and it isn’t the first time, is that while locks of course have to be secure, are we heading towards a point where lock manufacturers are adding so many features to their security products that they are locking out professional installers in the process? In this case, as Roy commented – a single door occupancy – there was no way to quickly get in without causing costly damage. As someone who has worked with the Police in the past, Roy commented that burglars in the most part would not pick or drill a lock (especially not if it took two days!), they would smash a window or door, so in this case, the high security was not keeping thieves out of the house but the woman and her child who quite rightfully should be allowed in…

This notion further went on to ask are everyday locksmiths included in the thought process of hardware and security development too late in the process, if at all? On this point, Roy has come across another issue recently, which is the growing preference of an entrance door (often grey) that has a large pull handle rather than a lever handle. In his recent experience – he has attended several calls with the same problem – the lock on the door has failed, and he believes that it is because the key alone is not strong enough to drive the claws back. In his words, these doors with a large pull handle are just a ‘no-no’.

Roy recognises that ‘a job is a job’ but as is often the case, it is the locksmith that faces the customer every day. He also points out that when jobs take a lot longer than they should – or you think they would – there is a knock-on effect to other clients; a recent window handle that should’ve taken 15 minutes takes six hours for example; of course we can expect things like this to happen now and again. But, when he is starting to see the same thing happening over and over again, is there a bigger issue? And where does the line between keeping those we don’t want out of properties and getting ourselves in when we need to do get drawn?


This piece was written following a locksmith that chose to get in touch with the magazine and start a discussion with readers of The Locksmith Journal. Do you have a response to this piece or your own issue you’d like to raise? Have you attended an unusual job recently – or – are you seeing something that should be unusual more and more often and you want to know why?

Get in touch with