The life of an out-of-hours locksmith
Metrolocks is a fully 24/7 company, working round the clock every single day of the year. We cover any job, Londonwide, all through the night. But the city is a different place out of hours. For a city of almost 9 million inhabitants, the streets are pretty much dead after 11pm. This makes travel times much shorter. But out-of-hours work also has its challenges. Shops are closed, for example, which means that you sometimes can’t get your hands on essential parts.
Out-of-hours jobs tend to be different to the usual daytime jobs. While most daytime work, contrary to popular belief, doesn’t revolve around emergencies, most evening work does involve some sort of unplanned emergency scenario.
Below are a few of the types of jobs an out-of-hours locksmith will get on a typical evening.
Locked communal door
Depending on the size of the block of flats, communal doors sometimes get very heavy use. The lock might fail at a random moment. The reason this is a common out-of-hours job is that people only notice the problem when they come home from work in the evening. These issues rarely get flagged up during the daytime.
The locksmith would go out, open the door (usually without doing any damage to the lock or barrel) and either fix the problem, or come up with a temporary solution to keep the door in working condition until a replacement lock can be obtained the next day.
Unlocked communal door
The opposite problem can also happen: the communal door won’t lock properly. This problem can have all kinds of causes; sometimes it’s nothing more than a tiny stone stuck underneath the door, preventing it from closing properly. In many areas, a permanently unlocked communal door is a big security risk.
Here, too, the engineer would either find a way to fix the door, or to resolve the issue temporarily. Crucially, he will ensure that the door can still be opened safely from the inside. The door must always be easy to open from inside.
Broken multi-point mechanism
Multi-point locking mechanisms – the locking strips you find mainly on uPVC doors – all have different shapes and sizes and aren’t interchangeable. You can’t just chop up a plastic door to allow a different mechanism to fit, unlike you could on a wooden door. This means that, should a mechanism fail, it needs a like-for-like replacement. But there are so many different varieties that no locksmith will ever stock all of them. A daytime lockie would be able to dash off to a wholesaler to pick up the correct lock, while an out-of-hours operator wouldn’t.
But it’s not the end of the world. There’s a so-called overnight lock, or ‘overnighter’, that can be fitted temporarily. It’s not a perfect solution, and it’s nowhere near as good as a new locking strip, but it will definitely keep your door shut until tomorrow.
We’ve written about repossessions before, but let’s recap: basically, if you don’t pay your bills, the debtee can get a High Court order allowing them to employ a bailiff who will repossess you. To avoid confrontation, bailiffs often choose evenings or early mornings to do their work, when there’s a smaller chance that you’re on site. This is especially true when commercial properties are being repossessed. The debtor will return to the unit the next morning to find that all the locks have been changed.
For jobs like this, you never know how many doors need opening and securing, or what’s likely to be on those doors. Out-of-hours locksmiths usually have a lot of padlocks, barrels and drill bits in stock. All that drilling, especially in the middle of the night, can lead the Fuzz to become suspicious, and there’s always a risk of being arrested!
There are two main reasons why glass should break in the evening: burglaries and car accidents.
The less horrible of the two is the burglary, because intruders will often just smash enough glass to allow them to reach through and open a door or window from the inside. They leave small(ish) holes on small(ish) windowpanes. A locksmith can easily board this up without using too much board. A glazier can then come the next day to replace the pane.
The truly challenging jobs are ones where a car has accidentally driven into a ground-floor shop-front. I’ve seen many photos of this, and in one case even CCTV footage. It’s not nice at all, and it leaves enormous holes in the shop-front windows. Finding enough board to sort out problems of that scale in the middle of the night is not always easy, and sometimes it’s entirely impossible. One time in Soho we were stuck, and the landlord arranged for a security guard to keep watch at night instead.
Break-ins can be rough or they can be tidy. This depends on how the burglars got in, and how experienced they were. Sometimes doors are battered down with a battering ram, while at other times a door has been opened without ruining the bulk of the door. In either case, the out-of-hours locksmith will be able to patch up the break-in. If you’re lucky, all that will be needed once the locksmith goes home is a new paint job on the door, though you won’t always be as lucky.
Working in the night isn’t to everyone’s liking, but it’s at the very heart of how Metrolocks is set up: we work all hours. Whether it’s a Sunday or 3am, we’re available to help. Don’t hesitate to give us a call on 020 7608 0809.