By Barry Campbell, Managing Director SOPL
Kerrville Texas, Kerr County Texas 2012 -
locksmith, Elvis Hernandez, had been working as a locksmith for about
10 years before being deployed to the Middle East to serve a 4-year stint in
the Iraq War. This U.S. Army combat veteran, who had been awarded the
ultimate symbol of sacrifice - a Purple Heart and an Honorable
Discharge, returned home to the challenge of rebuilding his business and
serving his community.
Hernandez has the additional challenge of being a single father, but he
also has the support of many others in the locksmithing community in
the San Antonio area, recently being named to the Board of the San
Antonio Locksmith Association and having a positive employment history
with IDN Acme, a locksmith distributor.
his military service and the respect and praise given him by his
friends, former employers, and co-workers; it is no surprise that Elvis
Hernandez has a strong sense of civic duty. But it is equally a shame
that his sense of compassion and concern for others has led to him being
barred from practicing as a professional locksmith.
this last spring, on the way to a job, he saw a small dog wandering
loose on a highway where speeding cars were passing. He stopped to
rescue the dog, which had no collar, leash, or identification and at
risk of becoming roadkill.
asked his customer if they knew who the owner of the dog was. When the
job was completed, he left his contact information with the customer who
lived in the area in case the owner came looking for the dog. Mr.
Hernandez cared for the dog briefly, but had to give the dog to a
relative because the lost dog did not get along with a dog he already
owned. That was not permanent either, but at least the dog was not left
to roam along a highway in harms way.
later, Mr. Hernandez received a call from the customer, who had
eventually heard from the alleged owner of the dog. At this point, Mr.
Hernandez was no longer aware of the location of the stray dog he had
rescued. Subsequently, he was contacted by the owners of a lost dog,
then by the Kerr County Sheriff. The now-irate owner has decided to
press property theft charges against Hernandez, who has since been
arrested on the misdemeanor charge and had to be fingerprinted, have a
mug shot taken, and spend over 24 hours in jail, before being released
on bond, pending trial.
whole story sounds ridiculous enough at this point – a negligent owner
charging a good Samaritan with theft of their dog without any evidence
that the rescued dog was, in fact, their lost dog; and the arrest and
pending prosecution for property theft, months after the fact, of
someone who left their contact information in the hope of reuniting the
owner with their dog. Thieves don't do that!
things have become much worse for Mr. Hernandez. Nothing less than a
tragedy, he has been barred from practicing his chosen profession.
Because he has been charged with a crime, his locksmith license has been
summarily suspended by the State of Texas Department of Public Safety.
His business has been effectively shut down.
friends in the locksmith community are barred from employing his skills
as a locksmith. The damage being done to Mr. Hernandez's reputation is
not the result of the actions of a negligent dog owner; it is not the
result of what has every characteristic of overzealous law enforcement
and malicious prosecution; it is purely and simply the result of the
locksmith licensing law.
would have been a bump in the road of his life has become a complete
roadblock. Even if the charges are dropped or he is acquitted, it could
easily take months for him to regain his license, under the locksmith
bad as the other circumstances have been, the effects of the locksmith
licensing law has been devastating. He could run for Mayor, Governor, or
even President of the United States, but he can't work as a locksmith
simply because of the locksmith licensing law.
who have supported such laws should be ashamed at their results.
Supposedly, these laws were enacted to put scammers out of business, but
how many of them have been prosecuted under the locksmith licensing
laws? As he served our country, Mr. Hernandez probably felt that he was
supporting certain ideals, such as innocent until proven guilty. Little
did he know that he would be presumed guilty until proven innocent by
laws purporting to protect the industry he worked in.
Mr. Hernandez said that he supported the initial efforts to license
locksmiths in Texas, though he felt that the moneyed interests
supporting licensing laws created a system far different than what the
local locksmiths had envisioned.
should serve as a warning to those who think there is any merit to
government interference and regulation of the industry. It is
reprehensible and inexcusable that a decorated war veteran should become
a victim, collateral damage, in the supposed war against locksmith
See Purple Heart Recipient Victimized by Locksmith Licensing Law