“Forensic locksmithing] is the study and systematic examination of a lock or other security device or associated equipment using scientific methods to determine if and how the device was opened, neutralized, or bypassed. These examinations include the use of various types of forensic techniques, […] and includes microscopic examination, microphotography, regular photography, physical disassembly of the device or devices, and on occasion laboratory techniques, such as metallurgy and tool mark identification may be conducted.”
-Don Shiles, Former President, Intl. Assoc. of Investigative Locksmiths
What is forensic locksmithing?
Forensic locksmithing is a relatively new field in the world of locksmithing that has recently been gaining a lot of popularity. A forensic locksmith is a locksmith that combines the skill and knowledge of locksmithing to analyze lock systems in order to determine tampering or evidence of compromise. The priority of a forensic locksmith is not to determine who committed the crime, but to aid law enforcing agencies in determine how a criminal gained entry to a building, safe, or other device. More specifically a forensic locksmith may be called to identify any of the following:
- Method of entry
- Tools used to gain entry
- Areas of weakness in a security system
In addition to preparing evidence for a crime that has already been committed, it is becoming common place for large institutions or corporations to utilize forensic locksmiths to evaluate the security levels of a facility. Many forensic locksmiths may also specialize in safe locksmithing.
What skill set does a forensic locksmith need?
- Extensive knowledge of locks, safes, and keying systems
- General knowledge of crime scene investigation
- Photography skills
- Evidence collection and preservation
- Adequate verbal communication (expert witness)
- Adequate written communication (investigative reports)
How can you become a Certified Forensic Locksmith (CFL)?
The International Association of Investigative Locksmiths (IAIL) has been committed to to developing this profession by professing the need for cooperation between locksmiths and law enforcement agencies. In addition, the IAIL is dedicated to providing guidelines for those wishing to be classified as a Certified Forensic Locksmith (CFL).
Currently the IAIL is the only organization that offers certification as a forensic locksmith.
What are the requirements?
- Applicants must have been a member of IAIL for at least 1 year
- A point system is used to qualify to take the exam. A total of 75 points are required to sit for the examination. The following classes award points. The classes with a * are required.
- Simplex Manipulation
- Professional By-Pass Techniques
- Covert CCTV
- Investigative Locksmithing I, II, & III *
- Forensic Locksmithing
- Safe Servicing & Safe Manipulation
- Safe Opening
- Automotive Specialties (Columns & Locks)
- Auto Theft/Arson classes *
- After receiving a total of 75 points a 3 hour written examination consisting of 125 questions must be passed. The exam is based on forensic locksmithing and the Standards for a Forensic Locksmith, which can be purchased from the IAIL.
The career of forensic locksmithing can be very exciting and rewarding, which are the main reasons it is becoming such a popular field.
For more information on other locksmithing certifications, click here.