Skip to content

Avoid Dangerous Situations (For Locksmiths)

If you work with locks and keys, your work matters. And it's very important in the society that we live in today but so is your safety. In the last coming years and even months, safety for the Lock & Key professional has never been so important. Now, this is an area in that I don't have a lot of experience, so I find people who do have experience and I'm bringing them to you. We’re together; we can learn to be safe on the job!

PJ: Alright, everyone. Well, I am here with Russell Davies. Russell, thank you for taking the time to come on and hang out for a little bit.

Russell: Hi! You're welcome.



PJ: So if you could just kind of give us a brief history of your background.

Russell: Yes, I'm originally from Australia. I was born into Locksmiths. Father's locksmith, grandfather's locksmith, so I did an apprenticeship and I decided to have a career change at one point and I became a police officer. I was a police officer for 15 years and I end up doing some overseas details where I met my wife who's American, and I've been living in the US since 2007. I've been working as a contractor for training, contractor for security, and contractor for manufacturing tools and equipment and I've also had my own business - designing and building locksmithing tools and entry tools. I've started my own locksmith business again, just as a bit of therapy and I've been running a full-service locksmithing 24 hours, seven days week service now for two years at this location.

PJ: Very cool. So you have a lot of law enforcement background but you've always kind of had a passion and have done locksmithing, and style works your entire life with your dad

Russell: Right.

PJ: Interesting. So you know, In the last video, when I was talking with my dad about this, this area of locksmithing, safety is something that I don't have a much experience with at all. At the same time, it's become a very, very big issue and so I've been on the hunt to bring people on and to kind of just give them their perspectives on good practices, where to look out for, and just perspectives from people who have some training or some experience in this topic, because I'm really happy that you reached out to me and we're able to kind of do this video together and to gain your perspective.

Russell: I love to help. I'm for the community for the guild or locksmithing and anything that's going to help our brothers and sisters out there to be able to be safer and work better. Jumping right in.

PJ: Perfect. Yeah. So, when it comes to just safety in general. So do you do 24-hour work? Do you just do shop work? Like, could you kind of give us like a scope of work that you do?

Russell: Yeah, I'm not exactly a job snob right now but I do 24 hours seven day. So if anyone's locked out of their house, car, lost keys, safes, or commercial work, it is not a big, bustling town, or a city so I do also travel out of the way. So sometimes I can travel up to one up to an hour if they're willing to pay the fees but we do travel, I do travel.



PJ: Okay. Very good. When it comes to basics, I kind of want to talk about the phone first. And then I kind of want to move into actual physical. So when you're on the phone with the training you've had, are there ever any red flags when you're talking to someone and you're like, you know what, this is something I don't...I don't want anything to do with this.

Russell: Yep. The first thing is intoxication. If someone's intoxicated by whatever means and that again is a bit of a difficult situation too because sometimes people could be suffering from diabetes and have the same effects and have been drunk or intoxicated, and there might be an emergency for them. Comes into the next thing, what we deem as an emergency may not be what they think is. The people's tolerance of things is a lot lower than what we would expect. Also, if somebody has been very evasive with answers, you don't expect everybody to know the make and model of the vehicle. Typically, if someone's not being truthful, they tend to sort of drop the ball a bit and say it's my friend's house, my cousin's house, not saying those their house so they're the first triggers that you should be picking your ears up over.

PJ: Okay. Is this kinda like they're not very good, straightforward answers?

Russell: Exactly. I mean, some people are just typically that way. I mean, it's rare-ish. Also, you don't know what the situation may be, you know, they might have just been in a violent struggle with someone trying to steal their bag, or they've offered a bag or their wallets or keys or whatever you don't know. And they're just reaching out for help. And they won't even tell you. Sometimes, I've heard people they've been assaulted and they've not said that. The first person they called was me because they can't get into their house. And then I arrived, and you find out that, hey, you should be calling the police first before you even told me. So. I mean, there's this big, big obvious one but you can spend all day splitting hairs going right down to the little bits, but the main ones. Yeah.

PJ: Yeah, I think it's one of those like, I was like to say, this is more true than untrue, but could also not be true. Right?

Russell: Right.

PJ: I think something that we're kind of talking about is just discernment, right? You're gonna have to have some discernment when you're on the phone, and you're listening to the person and you're asking them questions.

Russell: Right.

PJ: So if a person is doing that, let's say, they lost their keys, they're at their cousin's house, they don't have their wallet on them. And you're kind of getting that spidey sense that this doesn't seem like a good situation. How are you getting off the phone? Like, what are you saying to them?

Russell: I mean, the good old saying of saving face, empathy. And also, I mean, if the person is extremely intoxicated, or persistently just being painful, there's no other way than just either just to hang up on that type of person. But other people, you can just say, look, I'm sorry, we're not available. The first availability we have would be in the morning or mid-morning the following day. We don't have anything available at that time and then apologize to them. You may get a bit of grief and you know, the way things are nowadays, you might get a bad review, but I'd rather get a bad review than a bad beating

PJ: Yeah, I mean, that's a good point. Yeah. So as soon as you have, you just try to push that call out to the next day. And if they call back, and then they sound normal, or they're like, Hey, I have my wallet now, or whatever it might be, then like that kind of changes that the whole situation for you.

Russell: Sort of referencing as well. Nighttime is your enemy. Obviously, because of the light, daytime doesn't or night, you still have the chance of getting yourself in the situation but at nighttime, I would be bouncing it to the next morning or the next 12 hours when he got daylight because it's a lot safer. Working in daylight would be trying to negotiate or argue with people in the dark.



PJ: Okay, perfect. Yeah. Thanks. I think that's really good advice. So let's just talk about like, so you end up taking the call for whatever reason, however, the phone conversation went, you felt comfortable going to it and you start to pull up, and I guess before we go there, I like to ask you a question, which is have you found yourself in dangerous situations.

Russell: Yes, I have. It's only because I'm new to the city and, not knowing bad parts of the city or portions of the city or particular neighborhoods have a bit of a bad rep. I kind of learned that pretty quickly but situational awareness is an absolute necessity. Even if you're not sure, do a Google Earth walkthrough to see if there are any blocked roads. Even if there's construction, even if there's no light, just the conditions of the roads themselves will make it difficult for you to either turn around. I would not drive down a road that is blocked off or one way that if you can't do more than a single point turn or a three-point turn with speed, I wouldn't go good go down there unless I have illumination which I guess is a very strong point for me. My vehicle, I would say over the top when it comes to illumination and spotlights, I have spotlights on all four sides of my vehicle on the roof and I've got bar lights on the bottom, and also on the rear bumper as well. So when I go down the road, I light it up, I light everything up. And I guess it's a habit from being in the police force but a lot of your danger does not go away but is less than when there's light because people are going to come up and surprise you. They can't, they don't like light and that's the problem - is the surprise, it doesn't matter how good you are, you could be carrying, you could be wearing a vest, you could be highly trained but it's the surprise attack or the surprise jump that is going to kind of take anyone out, it can take anyone out and having that buffer zone or being able to see in areas around vehicles and dark areas and laneways, that's a necessity. I find it hard to see numbers because the numbering of houses is difficult to see so I'm having to slow down very slowly and try and read the numbers but if I get a chance to do a bit of a quick look on Google Earth, I'm always using my maps on my phone and my vehicle screen. And I always zoom in and check to see if there are one-way streets or if they just are open-ended roads. If they're not open-ended, I might even do just a bit of a drive around before I go into the road. I don't want to take anything else out of your question. But at the same time, if it's an unknown, and it is a one-way street, I do what we call what we used to call Red Alpha. And what that is, is I would call the customer and I would get them to stand out the front of where their vehicle is or where their house is and either flashes their phone or flashlight of some sort to confirm that that is the person that you are talking to on the phone.



PJ: Okay, interesting. As you're saying that actually, I mean, I even think of even Uber does the same thing, right? Like when they pull up, the first thing down is their window and you're there confirming before there's any close contact, okay, so yeah, that's good. So have them, do something like that. Let's talk about it now. So you get there, you start to meet the people, see what's going on, and you realize something's just not okay. For one, one thing or another, and maybe it's not their vehicle, maybe it's stolen, maybe the people who called you out there are people that you don't want to be around for safety reasons. I mean, with the other conversation with my dad, and the other conversations I've had, I like to talk about that conflict point, right? There's this point, where it's like you want to get out of this situation, because of the conflict. The conflict you feel like could happen but to leave, you essentially have to say or do something that could create that conflict, which a lot of times makes us want to avoid it.

Russell: Right. I mean, you've got to try and have the upper hand at all times. I know, I realized out of habit, I used to just get stared at my van, would go around to the side and grab my tools. And that happens during the daytime, during the light hours, but nighttime, I tend to do exactly what you've said, I want to engage with them first, assess the situation, maybe see what's going on and then I get a visual with them. And I get to see their demeanor, as well as being able to talk to them, and then I will then decide either, that I want to go and do that. So if you they're empty-handed. Well, I can't be empty-handed. Again, another police habit, I have a book with me and I can use it as a method to push people away or whatever, but I'll just be getting into defensiveness but it gives me an excuse to then go to my vehicle, I am gonna get my tools, so you give us five seconds. I'll just go grab my tools. You just get to the van and go. Don't engage. Don't verbally disengage as you're leaving, you're just disengaging and get in your car and go.

PJ: Okay, yeah, that's great. So I mean, you get out, you engage with people, you can assess kind of what's going on, you don't have anything with you. You have to go back to your van anyways.

Russell: Yep.

PJ: And you allow yourself to just let them know, Hey, I gotta go back to my van.

Russell: Absolutely.

PJ: And, you know-

Russell: A segue to get out of that area. I mean, you gotta have your personal space, and then you have a safe space. So at nighttime trying to get yourself that extra space because that's what we always would say, there's personal space, there's police space. So you give yourself that little bit of extra distance. I mean, you can't be paranoid about everyone every time because you'll never get out of bed, you'll never leave the house, you'll never do anything but if you put yourself in that situation where and not be aware, you're gonna get yourself in trouble. So, to me, that was an easy step to be able to have a tactical disengagement as you'd call it, where I need an excuse to go to my vehicle because I need my tools. A lot of guys would come in with tool bags and vests, whatever hell they got going on now. And that can instantly do the job because I just don't want to go back and forth, back and forth to the van, which is fair enough. But I gauge safety over convenience because that's our business. We want people to have the best security but over convenience, we know security drops. Same with us, we need to have the best security for ourselves so you don't want to compromise yourself by wanting to do the jobs there and then. You don't even have the situation as yet. Your spidey senses might be a little bit low. You just may not have that feeling about it and it happens, you know? It happens. But if that is an excuse, I always do if that's my exit. If I'm not happy with what's happening, I just get in my, I gotta go get me tools. Give us five minutes. And I'm leaving, I don't care about the phone. If they're ringing on the phone and they start verbally abusing me. I don't care. It's easy to press the button than it is to be laying on a hospital gurney with a busted nose and but it's a method.



PJ:  Yeah. Okay, that's very good. Well, I appreciate you taking the time to kind of share some of your tactics and stuff that you've used, you have a very unique background. And so it's been really fun to kind of hear some of those strategies. And I think for those watching and or listening that just these little tidbits, they can take and apply into how they handle jobs in the evening, or just jobs they don't feel quite right about. I think that's good. Is there anything else you want you'd like to add?

Russell: There's a couple, I mean, if you guys and girl, don't feel comfortable at all, even on the phone, don't bother about it, just let the job go through and not get it. The other one that I would suggest is to go to your Public Safety Center or your 911 call-out center. Talk to the boss and introduce yourself and engage with them, drop them a card, not for business light but for your safety where, hey, here's a phone number, you can call in and say look, I'm going into this area and I'm going to be doing the job. If there are any issues, it's going to be just kind of me. Also, vice versa, your partner, your business partner, your wife, your husband, whatever it is, have your GPS active on your phone and let them have the positioning to and inform somebody that you're going to a location because unfortunately, a lot of the times situations occur. Nobody knows anything until the next day, or some hours later and the urgency is gone. In a technical sense, I know a lot of guys use their phones for everything so they use them for their hotspot, they'll use them for all sorts of things. The only danger that I can say for that is that when you want to use your phone in an emergency, call 911. Sometimes your phone is in some mode because it's usually using WiFi or types of equipment attached to it and it causes delays, serious delays in being able to get out. So I've separated my technology. I have a separate WiFi hotspot in my van and my phone is just used as a phone. And I typically turn the WiFi off as well because the WiFi overtakes the digital side of it for the data and the phone becomes a secondary component, a secondary application for it. It is a phone but it's not. It can cause delays. Did many go on that tangent but yeah, even if it's just a local police chief or some senior officer or an officer, just ask to see if there's somebody you can speak to, even if it's just five minutes to get in their face so you Get registered on their radar, so you've got somebody to call. And then, they may call you on some. It nearly might be crappy jobs but there's a help, you help them help use top situation. You strike up a good relationship with them and it ends up being a bit of a bonus.

PJ:  Absolutely. Russell, that's some really good stuff. I'm really happy we've had this conversation and I look forward to reading the comments on what everyone thinks and how they can apply some of what you've said into their lives. So I love doing these. I mean, it's really practical information, real information and I'm hoping that we can help some people at least get some ideas on how they run, you know, their level of safety when they're doing the lock work.

Russell:  Yep

PJ: Well, perfect, Russell! Well, hey, it is nice meeting you, and happy to have this conversation. And I'm sure we'll be talking soon.

Russell: Awesome. Thank you very much.

PJ: Thanks!

Russell: See you!

PJ: All right. Well, I tell you what, that was a great conversation. I then picked up a few little nuggets, and I hope you did as well. I'd love to know what you think; comment on our YouTube video and include the hashtag #LockBoss to automatically get entered to win one of five free prizes we give away each week on YouTube. Thank you, and we'll see you next time.

Previous article Maximizing Efficiency with the Ilco Auto Key Blank Reference Book