“We also confuse trust with familiarity,” a quote by Robert Solomon, something that many of us do. You may have a designated locksmith you trust and go to for repair, but you should always keep your eyes peeled. A locksmith can be doing maintenance on a lock or safe, only to return to steal what’s been stored over time. That’s exactly what one Florida locksmith is accused of doing.
50-year-old Eric Welch made sure to protect those safes from theft and burglary. Ironically, this South Florida locksmith is now accused of doing just the opposite. He was arrested after he was supposedly breaking into a safe that contained a large amount of cash. The safe was anchored down onto a van’s floorboard, where the owner kept the safe. Coincidentally, Welch knew exactly where the safe was located since he worked on the same safe months before, according to Police investigators of the Broward Sheriff’s Office and Margate Police Department.
Welch is also accused of stealing from five other safes that date back three years ago. The professional locksmith, who has had years of experience, will be held accountable without bond on 13 charges and multiple counts that include burglary and grand theft.
In most situations, Welch would install his own private combination on a safe he had worked on before. When given the opportunity, he’ll have easy access to the safe at another time, according to an arrest affidavit.
Although cases such as this only occur every so often, professional locksmiths and experts say that poor monitoring and regulations make it very possible. In most states such as Florida, locksmiths aren’t monitored or regulated. That means they aren’t licensed, trained or gone through background checks. Veterans in the locksmith industry and authorities say that customers can only do so much to protect themselves when a locksmith turns criminal.
David Welter, of Welter Lock and Safe in Hollywood, Florida says “their needs to be regulation as anybody can be a locksmith with little training.” According to the Associated Locksmiths of America, most say that the complaints they receive are due to overpriced charges or inferior work by locksmiths with barely any experience. However, Welch is a veteran in the business, who has worked for LockAmerica in Pompano Beach for the last two decades. Even company owner, C.J. Donofrio, says that they never had a problem with Welch and that he is an experienced and skilled employee. The company is cooperating with the investigators. “We are embarrassed. People have trusted us for 30 years,” he said. “We still don’t know what happened to him. It’s like Jekyll and Hyde with him.”