NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – Peter Spirakis, the owner of Phil’s Lock and Key, voluntarily surrendered his business license on Monday.
The move comes two days before a scheduled special hearing with the city of North Myrtle Beach to determine whether the license should have been revoked.
Spirakis is one of four people police say was involved in a sexual assault at Chez Joey involving two four-year-olds. 55-year-old Spirakis is a registered sex offender and according to the letter the city sent him, the hearing was connected to a crime back in 2012.
Some area locksmiths say that conviction, and Spirakis’ most-recent arrest, highlights the need for state regulations.
The South Carolina Locksmithing Association says someone can walk out of jail today, get a business license, and open a locksmithing business tomorrow.
“If you’re going to be employed or open a business in the state you need background checks and a license,” suggested locksmith Donald Mertens who owns All About Locks with his wife Kimberly.
They couple has been in business for 10 years at their Myrtle Beach location.
“When we first opened down here our business license went under typewriter repair,” said Mertens, who added the lack of regulations is alarming.
“It doesn’t make any sense to me. My wife goes and gets her hair done and the hair dresser needs a license, and gets her nails done and the nail salon needs a license, but I can go out and open cars and open houses and not have a license,” questioned Mertens.
Phil Straub, a customer at All About Locks agrees, “because you can’t trust some people.”
“If you’ve got a set of picks and you’ve got a car opening tool and you’ve got easy ways into people’s home or vehicles, you should be checked,” explained Mertens.
A bill that would have required locksmiths to provide their fingerprints to law enforcement and be checked for a criminal record was introduced in the house in 2011, and has been residing in the house committee on labor, commerce and industry ever since .
“I think the state needs to get involved and put regulations in place,” said Mertens.
The South Carolina Locksmith Association says North Carolina and Georgia both have laws on the books regarding license requirements and Staub says that’s an example to follow.
“They can do background checks and do it right,” he said.
Mertens says a great deal of trust is placed in locksmiths’ hands and it’s important to know who you can let in your home.
“I have four daughters and to know that someone has a key or can keep a record of my key, I would not feel comfortable,” said Mertens.
Locksmiths News13 spoke to say you should choose a locksmith before you need one. For example, you can check with the S.C. Locksmith Association for possible recommendations. You can also check with the South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs to see if any complaints have been filed.