Chicago locksmiths open up about their businesses
What's the most common request you get from customers?
Johnson: "To rekey locks."
Rovy: "Lost keys, or they're locked out of their house."
Who we talked to
Muriel Johnson, owner
Johnson Locksmith Inc.
1557 Maple Ave.
John Rovy, owner
John's Lock-Up Inc.
Gerald Mernard, owner
Amazing Lock Service Inc.
3165 N. Halsted
Mernard: "Probably installing or rekeying locks."
How do you charge?
Johnson: "We have a service call charge, and we charge for labor and parts."
Rovy: "Sometimes it's by the job and sometimes by the time, and sometimes I just have to come out and take a look. My truck is fully equipped, so I can cut keys right on site."
Mernard: "Usually it's a service charge and a per-item charge."
What's the average fee for customers locked out of their house, their car or their safe?
Johnson: "For a house, $86 is the average. We change combinations in safes. The average for that is about $90."
Rovy: "The average for a home or car is $75 to $85, if it's not high-security. After hours is more money. For safes, I usually charge a service call and then whatever it takes to do the job."
Mernard: "For a house or car, it's about $80 to $100, depending on the time of day."
Before you start a job, do you require some type of identification?
Johnson: "We do if anyone is locked out of anything. That's required by law."
Rovy: "For any car or safe we require an ID, and it has to be the owner."
Mernard: "Typically, yes."
Do you have any advice for people who lock themselves out of their cars or homes all the time?
Johnson: Leave a spare key with someone else."
Rovy: "Everybody today is in a hurry. You've got to slow down and make sure you know where your keys are at all times."
Mernard: "For the home, get what's commonly referred to as a realtors' box. For cars, just keep a spare key in your wallet or purse. The magnetic key boxes on cars can bounce off."
Do you have any funny or memorable experiences from your experience as a locksmith?
Johnson: "I'd have to turn you over to a locksmith for that, but I don't have many of them here right now - they're all out on calls."
Rovy: "I unlocked a car for a lady three times within four hours. The first time was at a Dunkin' Donuts, the next time was in her mother's driveway, and the last time was at the mall."
Mernard: "I had a guy come in the shop half-nude with his hand cuffed to his ankle. He and his girlfriend had some exploratory things going on and lost the key."