Bill requiring locksmith licenses advancing in South Carolina Senate

Grand Strand

COLUMBIA, SC (WBTW) – State lawmakers are trying to change how locksmiths in South Carolina don’t need to be licensed or even have background checks.

A bill in the state Senate would require locksmiths be licensed. The goal is to prevent sexual offenders or violent criminals from having access to your locks.

Kim Mertens owns All About Locks in Carolina Forest with her family.

“It’s the only thing we know,” said Mertens, who supports the locksmith registration bill. “We live, breathe and eat locksmithing.”

Mertens says she got a storefront ten years ago to give her business more credibility, since there’s no licensing for locksmiths in South Carolina.

“When we come out and do a job, if something ever goes wrong, you know where to find us,” she said. “You know we’re not going to be gone in the middle of the night.”

The bill would require locksmiths to be licensed and undergo background checks every two years. It would also prevent felons, sexual offenders and violent criminals from registering as locksmiths.

Those rules are in other states now, but not South Carolina.

“You could have somebody, quite literally, walk out of prison one day and, the next day, just hang out their shingle and call themselves a locksmith,” said Rep. Greg Duckworth, R-North Myrtle Beach.

Rep. Duckworth wrote the bill in 2016.

That was after a North Myrtle Beach locksmith, who’s a sexual offender, was arrested for child molestation.

“There was quite a few people asking the question, ‘why is this happening and why aren’t locksmiths having criminal background checks?,'” Rep. Duckworth said.

Mertens says licensing locksmiths is crucial to customer safety.

“Locksmiths can go into bank vaults, cars, people’s homes and businesses, and not have to prove anything but a phone number,” she said. “I just think that it’s absolutely crazy.”

The bill passed second reading in the state senate Wednesday after passing in the House of Representatives last year.

A final vote is expected Thursday.

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