HOMEOWNERS have been urged to be on their guard following reports of a rising number of rogue locksmiths.

The Master Locksmiths Association’s (MLA), the largest trade body in the UK representing the profession, has issued the warning to Southampton residents.

This follows a survey by the trade body that showed 66% of its members have been called to a job after homeowners have inadvertently called out a rogue locksmith over the past 12 months.

Collectively, respondents attended more than 300 botched jobs involving a rogue locksmith over the last year and 65% said rogues are overcharging customers by £200 or more.

Steffan George, managing director of the MLA, said: “The industry is unregulated so it’s easy to set up as a locksmith with no training, experience or insurance.

“During the pandemic, we expect the number of incidences involving rogue locksmiths to rise as people under increasing financial pressure see it as an easy way to make money.”

“People need to be aware of the dangers and know how to select a reputable locksmith to ensure they don’t fall victim to a rogue.”

“Homeowners should go to a reputable firm which employs insured and trained locksmiths, someone who you can trust to protect you and your home.”

According to 65% of members interviewed the tell-tale signs of a rogue locksmith are quoting an unusually low price however, being vague about experience and uncertain about how they’d carry out the work.

A third of respondents said the most important thing people should look out for when they select a locksmith is calls that are answered by a locksmith, not diverted to a call centre in which details about the locksmith who is doing the job can’t be provided or are difficult to obtain.