NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) – A bill that would require locksmiths to undergo background checks before entering your home or car is now closer to becoming law.
The bill was passed unanimously in the South Carolina State House of Representatives and is now making its way through the state Senate. The bill was drafted after a North Myrtle Beach sexual molestation case involving a locksmith.
Rep. Gregory Duckworth says currently it’s too easy for just anyone to enter your home.
“Anybody could do it,” said Duckworth. “You could walk right out of jail and open a locksmith business. It’s insane.”
Patrick Allen has worked as a locksmith in Myrtle Beach for almost two decades, and he says he’s glad lawmakers are making it harder for certain people to enter the profession and your home.
“I’m all for it,” said Allen. “It’s something South Carolina has needed for a long time.”
Rep. Duckworth decided to write the bill after Peter Spirakis, a North Myrtle Beach locksmith, was arrested for child molestation last year, less than a mile from Duckworth’s home.
Spirakis was a registered sex offender who had been convicted of sex crimes with teens twice before.
“I started getting phone calls from various people asking what are we going to do about that,” explains Duckworth. “You entrust them to do the right thing but more importantly you’re also entrusting them to your homes, your family, your children.”
Duckworth said many of the calls he received came from local locksmiths and even the South Carolina Association of Locksmiths.
“When you have some bad cases it gives us all a bad name,” said Allen.
The bill would require locksmiths to pass a national and state background check to get the license, and bar registered sex offenders from getting a license. Duckworth said if those registered sex offenders can’t get a license, they can’t unlock your doors.
“You wouldn’t want somebody who’s a registered sex offender to come to your house and change your locks on your house and possibly keep a key to your home,” explained Duckworth.
Allen said he’s shocked it’s taken this long for the state to try and enforce a vetting process and hopes the bill is passed soon.
“You have to be licensed to do nails. You have to be licensed to do hair. You should be licensed to be a locksmith,” he said.
Spirakis is still in jail but has a bond hearing set for May 11. Two other men and a woman were also charged in that sexual abuse case. Two of the alleged offenders are still in jail with Spirakis with no court date set as of now.
The final suspect, Anthony Strickland, is out of jail and in home detention.