A Real Locksmith Does Locksmith Work.

While rekeying a house last week, my customer approached me and inquired as to “when I would be going to Lowes.” I replied that I had no need to go to any store, and he wanted to know “how” I was changing his locks. I explained that the process was relativly simple: Remove the cylinders from the locks, re-pin the plugs in the cylinders to match the new key, and then put the plugs back into the cylinders. Test the new key in the cylinder. The last step was to replace the cylinders in their hardware and reinstall the hardware to their respective doors. For a locksmith, this is basic, bread and butter stuff. It is a PRIMARY JOB of the profession. My customer then told me that his last locksmith went to the store, purchased all new locks, and replaced all of the existing locks with the new ones. I mused that he must have wanted new hardware. Rust, corrosion, discoloration of the finish, that sort of thing. He emphatically said no! He was under the impression that this was the only way to change locks, as this is what his locksmith told him. That’s because his last locksmith was not a locksmith. Remember: If your locksmith wants to sell you new hardware, ask him/her if there are other options. If options don’t exist, your locksmith is a handyman; nothing more. All locks can be taken apart and re-keyed.

Sadly, this is pretty common in Tallahassee. Out of town companies post ads on Craigslist, and hire inexperienced kids, or “sketchy” characters (and of course, probably some well intentioned people looking for work). These people receive minimal, or no, training, and are immediately sent on jobs. They go to whomever clicks on their “locksmith” ads, or “directories,” or “locksmith listing service” internet listings, It is possible (quite likely, actually) that the work these folks are doing at your house is the very first attempt at doing such work.

Learning a new skill requires practice, and there is definitely a “learning curve” that exists with most jobs. Don’t let your house, your place of business, or your vehicle be subject to this learning curve!

So how can you avoid inexperienced or shady characters working on your locks? Sure, one would think, “I’ll jusk ask.” Not that easy to do. Firstly, look at the fancy internet postings these operators have. They look legit. They want to look legit. The phone operator doesn’t know any of the technicians, and if there was a problem, he/she certainly wouldn’t tell you about it; no, lying is the standard operating procedure for these folks, anyway!

There are several important things you should do when you call a locksmith. Firstly, immediately, ask the person answering your call where their locksmith business is located. Ask for the specific address. Ask for a specific call back number.  You need a local, experienced locksmith; not some local  kid working for people in another state.

When your locksmith arrives:

  1. Is he/she driving an unmarked vehicle? This a BAD sign. A REAL locksmith has a marked vehicle, whether it be a van, or a car, or a truck. It should have the name of the locksmith company and the phone number prominently displayed on the vehicle.
  2. Is he/she driving a vehicle with the word “locksmith” on it, and nothing else? this is almost as bad as an unmarked vehicle.
  3. Does he/she have other people in the vehicle, who are there “for the ride?” That’s a bad sign, although if one is along for training that might be something to take into consideration. Otherwise, well, that is not a good thing.
  4. Does he/she have a uniform, or a locksmith id card, or something that indicates the person is locksmith? This is important.


There are a lot of things to look for when selecting a locksmith, and although I could easily go on and on about High Quality Locksmith’s credentials, community ties, and professional affiliations, etc. , I will just summarize that a good locksmith company will have those 3 aforementioned elements, in addition to substantial training and experience. Often, in the heat of the moment, in a panic, you’ll call the very first “locksmith” listing that pops up on your Google search. There are many people counting on you to do just that.


Where We Are, and Where We Are Going

Recently a customer asked me about specific  services that High Quality Locksmith performs. I
though it would be a good idea to mention our services, and to touch upon our future plans regarding
locksmith services.

Our Current Status

HQL specializes in residential rekey jobs, commercial rekey jobs, emergency services (residential, commercial, and automotive lockouts) and automotive locksmith work. We sell safes, and perform some service work on Sentry safes. We normally do not do work on safes, or
on safe deposit boxes. High Quality Locksmith sets up and administers master key systems, and we also
service and install restricted key systems.

Our Future Status

Eventually we will increase our on site inventory for safes, especially Hayman and Hollon. Along with this inventory expansion, our services will also expand to include safe work, such as combination changes and safe servicing.

Automotive Locksmith Expansion

The necessary equipment for automotive locksmith work is very expensive. Currently, High Quality Locksmith can make and program keys for most foreign and domestic vehicles, although European models are typically not included in this assessment. With the aquistion of specific programming
equipment we intend to start making keys for BMW and Mercedes.


A New Shop Location

The addition of a primary shop location on Monroe Street is currently on “the way, way, way, back burner,” so to speak, and may never actually materialize.   There are weak arguments supporting this addition, but most logicial and conservative arguments demolish such an idea. Colleagues have encouraged me to seriously consider this option, but even in the most conservative sense I think such a move would require substantial  across the board rate increases, and the Tallahassee population, by and large, cannot support rate increases. Times have changed, and brick and mortar locations are no longer important for mobile, service oriented businesses. They are nice, of course, but no longer figure prominently in the mobile locksmith business plan.

Transponder keys, remote controls, remote head keys and proximity remotes…a brief synopsis

Often when a customer calls requesting a replacement key for his vehicle, I quote the price, mentioning that the price also includes programming the key, if necessary (the term, “programming the key”, is not accurate; actually I am programming the vehicle’s ECU to accept the frequency of the new key’s chip, but I will save this bit of information for a few lines down). The customer stops me short, and says, “No, this key does not have a chip. It doesn’t have any buttons or anything. This is just a regular key.” I carefully explain all the facts and nuances concerning the key, and how it does indeed have a chip,  and that this chip is called a transpnder, etc. etc., and I often think, “I should write an article about this. Maybe talk about what the different terms mean. That sort of thing.”

Well, here I am. I’ll try to keep it brief, not too boring, and hopefully somewhat informative.

A key to a car can be a regular metal key, or it can be a transponder key. A transponder key is a key that has a tiny chip embedded in the plastic head of the key. You cannot see it. A transponder equipped vehicle requires not only a key to turn the igniition, but the vehicle must be programmed to accept the fre3quency of the chip that the key has; if it is not programmed, the vehicle will not start. The key will turn, and nothing will happen. Nada.

A remote control is a programmed frequency transmitter that transmits a signal which can be used to lock and unlock doors, open the trunk, etc. A transponder chip has nothing to do with the remote, and vice versa.

A remote head key is a key that has the remote control in the head of the key. A transponder chip might also be embedded in the head of the key, but the two are still not related to each other. It is possible to have a remote head key for a car, but not have a transponder chip, as a particular vehicle may not require one. It is also possible to have a remote control by itself, sharing space on your keyring with your key.

A proximity remote is a remote control unit that also has a chip in it. When this unit is inside the vehicle, the engine ECU (aka “brain”) senses the presence of the unit, and allows the vehicle to be started, usually by pushing a button. The remote control functionality is separate from the transponder functionality.

Vehicle manufacturers have made things a bit less simple than the above narrative. Remote controls and transponders are two wholly seperate things, so programming one may (or may not) program the other; oftentimes the two devices require their own distinct programming. A remote control might work on the door locks, but if the transponder is not programmed, the engine is not going to start.

Some vehicles (Toyota comes to mind), have a blinking light (the security light) that will not turn off unless a proper OEM (original equipment manufacturer) remote head key is utilized to start the car; although a standard programmed transponder key will start the car, the dash light will continue to act as though it is disabled. Additionally, many vehciles are “transponder optional,” meaning a certain vehicle may require a transponder key, while another, of the exact same type, model and year, may not.

Programming requirements can vary by vehicle, but oftentimes basic programmers can be utiized. Newer vehicles almost always require more sophisticated programming equipment, and programming can be expensive; it may even exceed the price of the key itself.

Locksmiths and Bonding: Here’s a “bonded” surprise for you…..

“Licensed, Bonded, Insured.” “Certified, Accredited, Bonded.”  “Bonded for your Security.” These terms, as well as many variations, are the mantra of most locksmiths. For most locksmiths (in the Tallahassee, FL., area, anyway), these words are merely words, and nothing else.

There are primarily two kinds of bonds. The first is the surety bond. This is a bond that insures performance. If a small locksmith company wins a bid for a large construction-lock installation project, this bond is issued prior to the bidding process to guarantee that the winning bidder starts, and completes, the job. If the contractor/locksmith walks away without finishing the job, the bond pays for the remaining work to be completed by someone else. This is used to guarantee performance, and shows that the bidder is serious about doing the job.

Another bond is the guaranty bond (yes, the spelling is correct). This bond is a bond that pertains to the individual and/or the agency the person works for. It is a guarantee of the person, himself. If the person steals from his customer, or does anything to hurt his customer, the bond reimburses the customer. Liability insurance covers negligenet actions; bonds cover intentional actions.  The bond covers criminal acts outside the scope of liability insurance. It is wholly different.

Here is a surprise: 90% of all locksmiths in the Tallahassee area are not bonded, or even insured. Some have their premises insured, and that’s it.

Locksmiths are responsible for the safety of their clients. The confidentiality of security information and key codes is extremely important. You could easily make the mistake of having a convicted burglar or sex offender re-key your house! A bond is issued by an entity, whereby the entity says, in effect, “we have checked this person out, and stand by him/her. If this person uses their locksmith skills to rob or otherwise take advantage of you, we will reimburse you up to the the maximum amount of this bond.” Needless to say, bonds are not issued without some sort of vetting process.

High Quality Locksmith, is an active member of ALOA, and we are bonded by this organization. Additionally, our comprehensive liability insurance, issued by the Hartford Insurance Company, also covers our customers. HQ Locksmith also has a second bond, issued by the National Locksmith Association!

The next time a locksmith says that he/she is bonded, ask to see the bond. Anyone can say they have one, but very few can produce this upon request. Very few actually know what a bond is!

High Quality Locksmith maintains copies of our bond and our insurance policies on board our trucks. Our bond is also on our web page, at https://hqlocksmith.com/our-credentials.






A Professional Locksmith Will Have Credentials

In Florida, as well as most states in the US, there are no laws regulating the locksmith industry. Broward and Dade counties require licensing for locksmiths in their counties, but this is the only real licensing requirement in Florida. The City of Tallahassee issues a “tax receipt” sort of license for $50; this is the only license, per se, required of locksmiths in this area. Anyone can get this license for $50. Interestingly, the City Commission has eliminated this “tax receipt” requirement as of the end of 2017!   All so-called “locksmiths” say they are licensed, bonded and insured, and many of them are lying. Insurance and bonding is not required; moreover,  no one actually enforces whether a locksmith has that aforementioned, city issued, $50 tax receipt, either.

Is this alarming? Absolutely! As a result of this, anyone can decide he is a locksmith, and put it on Google, almost instantly. Tallahassee sees 3 to 4 new “locksmiths” every few months; they come and go with the frequency of the seasons…… It is ironic that your hairdresser, or the local tattoo artist, are subject to more government oversight than the person who makes the keys to your house, or car.

The real, genuine, trained and professional locksmiths submit themselves to voluntary regulation, and have valid liability insurance policies, as well as valid bonds. ALOA ( http://aloa.org )  is  the premier organization for locksmiths, and conducts background checks, and imposes specific requirements upon their members. Very few locksmiths in Tallahassee are ALOA members.

High Quality Locksmith is a member of ALOA, maintains liability insurance, and is bonded. These are specific professional credentials that we maintain. Honest locksmiths make an effort to be identified as such. Many of the so called “locksmiths” you find on Google are fake, who’s sole experience is breaking into someone’s car the week before, and who’s complete training consists of nothing more than a couple of YouTube videos. Training, real locksmith experience, and professional association membership separates these glorified handymen from the professionals.

It is important to note, that less experienced locksmiths, who are honest and trying to move up in the industry, may not yet have the qualifications to join an organization such as ALOA (one of the requirements is that the applicant must have at least 2 years experience in the industry). Now, it is incumbent upon dedicated locksmiths to join ALOA, but not having yet reached that goal does not necessarily make one dishonest, or “shady.” Far be it for this writer to denigrate my less experienced colleagues; I am sure there are some decent people out there trying to make it in the industry. We all started out at the bottom, more or less.

But, repeating what I said earlier, REAL locksmiths make a bona fide effort to be identified as professionals. This means insignia, identification of some sort, business cards (or at least a receipt that has the company name), and insignia of some kind on the service vehicle. Credentials of some sort, even if they are just basic ones.

All good locksmiths are proud of their trade. Proud of what they do, and gratified when they do a good job. Inasmuch as they are proud of their own efforts, they should be proud of their identity, and should have those business cards, signs on  their vehicles, and some sort of insignia on their clothing.

Beware of the locksmith who lacks these basic items. Lack of these simple items could easily indicate this person is just a semi-talented handyman, who my know a  little (very little) about locks.

Of course, the ultimate set of credentials not only includes the business card, identification, company shirt or uniform, marked company vehicle, identification badge, etc., but also includes true liability insurance, professional association memberships (ALOA, Board of Realtors, etc.), and professional business association membership (Chamber of Commerce).

High Quality Locksmith has all of the above. The complete package. Don’t settle for less.

Good Locks. Sometimes price doesn’t matter.

Often I am asked which locks and/or hardware are the best for residential application. It is unwise to specify a certain brand over another. Often people define (erroneously) the quality of a lock system by how easy it is to pick. Picking, or lack thereof, does not define lock quality, but this factor deserves mentioning……

Certainly, some of the more expensive locks are more difficult (or almost impossible) to pick, but a lock is only as strong as the door it secures, as well as the frame it’s bolt engages. If the door is a hollow core door and the frame is thin or cheaply constructed, the high quality lock will do little to prevent entry.

A skilled locksmith can pick locks. This is a job requirement.  But sometimes a dime store lock can be difficult to pick, while an expensive name brand lock can be picked in seconds.  Most of the difficulty (or ease) to picking a lock comes from the placement of it’s internal pins. If a lock has all short pins,  generally it can be picked easily. A lock with long pins mixed with short pins will generally be more difficult to pick. To see if your lock has short pins next to long pins, simply look at your key. Does the key have deep cuts, next to shallow ones? If it does, it may be a little more difficult to pick.

Picking locks is a skill and an art, and it requires practice.  As most people cannot pick locks, how difficult a lock is to pic is usually not a significant concern for people. Most criminals do not pick locks; they prefer unused locks.

Of GREATER importance is the quality of the metal, and the quality of the installation. The lock should be heavy and solid, and it should mount solidly in the door.  A deadbolt should mount cleanly in the hole drilled for it. Sometimes, a a do-it-your-selfer will  fail to drill the hole large enough for the hardware to seat properly. This leaves a gap that invites a prying/crowbar attack. The bolt should also be solid, and when engaged, it should slide all of the way into the door frame. A deadbolt not fully engaged with a frame (because the bolt hole is not deep enough, or is not aligned properly) is not truly “dead,” and can be “walked open” with a screwdriver or other instrument.

It’s All About the Keys

There are many brands of locks, but relatively few key ways.

The 4 most popular key designs in the United States are (in order) Kwikset (KW1), Schlage (SC1), Yale and Weiser. Many other key patterns exist, as well. Most of these other key patterns are used exclusively for commercial applications.

Many other companies are licensed to manufacture their locks using the aforementioned 4 key designs. Lowes has it’s Carriage House design, which uses the KW1 key way; Home Depot does the same with it’s Defiant brand. Of course, Kwikset, Schlage and Yale name brands are popular.

Yale uses a Kwikset key way for it’s residential applications, and has it’s own key type for commercial applications. Schlage has it’s own key way which sees extensive commercial and residential use.

Sergent, a high quality lock, also appears in residential applications but is more likely used commercially.

The quality of a lock is defined more by the quality of it’s installation. A poorly made lock is easy to detect; but economics usually prevent such locks from remaining available for purchase.

The only truly ineffective lock is an unused one.




We Sell Hollon Safes

We are official distributors for Hollon® Safe Company, and we carry their entire line.

Our previous HQ Locksmith site had a large online showroom. We are currently building a new safe marketing section for this site.

In the mean time, if you would like to see the Hollon Safe line, we will be happy to give you a print catalog.

Our new showroom will be online soon.

Commercial Locksmith

High Quality Locksmith is considered one of the best commercial locksmith services in the area. We are expert locksmiths for office buildings, retail shopping centers, hotels, and other commercial installations. Our primary concerns are high quality, safety and value, as well as ensuring that your business is running smoothly

Below are just a few examples of commercial locksmith work we perform:

    • commercial locks and rekeys
    • mortis cyclinders
    • Exit devices (aka panic bars)
    • high security and restricted key systems


Restricted key systems in commercial settings merit additional mention. A restricted key is a special key that is made to fit a specific type of keyway. The pattern is licensed to specific locksmiths, or it is generally difficult to obtain. Consequently the key blanks are unavailable to the general public. Because the blanks cannot be readily obtained, it is impossible for a person to go to a hardware store and make a copy of their work key. As this is the case, if this person leaves employment, and turns in his issued key,  management can rest assurred that building security is not compromised.


Residential Locksmith

All locksmiths claim to be adept at residential locksmith work.


Like them, we also make that claim, although we can back it up. We are residential locksmith experts. We do re-key work, installations, surveys, and replacements. We also are master key experts, and can set up a master key system whereby specific keys can open specific locks, while other keys can open everything. Of course, the most typical configuration in a residential setting is for one key operating all locks.


We are the ONLY Tallahassee Locksmith who is a member of the Tallahassee Board of Realtors, as well as a member of the Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce.


How To Decrease The Odds of Having Your Car Stolen (and how to get it back if it is stolen)

The first and foremost thing to remember is that one should utilize their existing hardware, and look for optimum conditions for parking their car. In other words, ALWAYS lock your doors,  ALWAYS roll up your windows, and always try your best to park in a secure, well lit, and preferably busy area. The efforts you take to prevent car theft from taking place will reap massive returns in overall prevention itself. Thieves are opportunists: If an opportunity does not exist, or requires just a little too much effort to “make the opportunity unfold”, so to speak, then this exponentially decreases chances of vehicle theft. There are too many cars out there, parked in remote areas, with their doors unlocked and keys in the ignition, just begging to be stolen. So simply don’t include your vehicle in that group.

You should always consider supplementing your basic safety efforts, though:

  1. Consider a subscription to a service like On-Star or BMW Assist if your manufacturer offers one. Many of these services have Stolen Vehicle Location and Recovery Assistance and can remotely track and locate your vehicle while communicating with police to help aid in recovery.Get Lojack if your area has Lojack coverage. Lojack is only sold in areas where the police are equipped with Lojack scanners, and does not require a monthly or yearly fee. Chances are if you can buy Lojack in your area, you have coverage. Lojack is a vehicle tracking system that allows police to directly track a stolen vehicle from their police cruisers. This is done directly by the police, without the need of a 3rd party like On-Star to tell them the location.
  2. Get a car security or alarm system with 2 way paging remotes that will notify your remote of your vehicles condition. If the alarm is triggered your remote will alert you of the alarm. Also ECarSecurity offers the Vision Guard 8000 which actually takes a picture from inside the car during the alarm triggering. This picture will quickly be sent to your remote and can help identify a thief.
  3. Consider a 3rd party GPS or GPS/Cellular based tracking system. Most of these have a monthly fee, and will allow to see the location of the vehicle through the companies tracking site or other means. This allows you or them to communicate with the police the location of the stolen vehicle, and some allow you to see the location from your computer as well. This is similar to many fleet-monitoring systems.

  4. Report the theft to police as soon as you find out. The longer a thief has with the car, the longer the thief has to find, remove and disable any OEM or aftermarket tracking system.

  5. Consider going to a watchdog website.

  6. Make sure to etch your VIN in your window. If you have nice aftermarket wheels, stereo equipment, or any other parts you worry about, consider etching your VIN number somewhere inconspicuous (like on the backside or inside lip) of these too. It can make it easier to recover your vehicle and parts. You can ask the dealership for a place that does this.


  • On-Star, BMW Assist and other similar manufacturer assistance systems offer many different plans. When purchasing a car, be sure to check if your manufacturer offers such services for their vehicles. To be sure you can effectively use these systems to help attempt recovery of a stolen vehicle, make sure to select a plan that features some sort of Stolen Vehicle Recovery. Most of the monthly or yearly plans will include this, but it never hurts to be sure before you sign up.
  • Lojack offers an “early Warning system” as well. Consider paying extra for this. This helps inform you quicker of the theft of your vehicle. Through the extra technology, you will be contacted by your chosen method (cell, email, text message, phone call, etc.) the moment the thief drives your car away. This allows you to contact the authorities sooner, increasing chances of recovery.
  • Some 3rd party GPS tracking systems offer different features than others. Some offer a system with early warning as well. Some can be combined with regular alarm systems to aid in prevention as well as recovery. Understand the way it is set up, and available options and systems thoroughly before purchasing a system, to make sure it’s the right one for you. Remember to pay the monthly fee, your expensive GPS tracking system that requires a monthly fee for the monitoring. Like a cell phone, it won’t be effective if you don’t have a service provider. There are many more types available.
  • Get a car alarm with 2 way paging remotes for further protection over your vehicle. You can also opt to get a system like the Vision Guard 8000 which will actually take pictures and send it to your remote!
  • StolenCarReports.com alerts are sent out to people in your area through email and SMS to cell phones. These people will look for your car and call the cops to pick up your ride.
  • Make sure to etch your VIN in your window. Makes it easier to recover your vehicle.


  • Be careful about etching your car’s VIN number on your window if your car is an older Honda because it easier to steal your car if the thief knows the VIN number.

  Sources and Citations