The following article is reprinted from Locknroll, a weekly newsletter from The Atlantic.
It is part of a larger series on the best locksmith in Atlanta, featuring a list of the city’s best locks.
(Sign up for the Locknroller newsletter to get the inside scoop on all things lockpicking.)
The locksmith that we featured in the past week is James W. Lopes.
Lodes has worked as a locksmith for decades, and has been in business since the late 1980s.
He has been the chief locksmith at the Fulton County Courthouse since 1997.
He was named the Atlanta Police Department’s Chief of Public Safety by Mayor Kasim Reed.
Loes is also the owner of Locknown locksmith shop in Atlanta’s Buckhead neighborhood, where he also works as a supervisor.
“Locksmiths have been around forever,” he says.
“It’s been my life, since I was a little kid.
I grew up with them.”
Lopes’ experience is what sets him apart from the other locksmith on the list.
He is a master at understanding locks.
Lones, a retired Atlanta Police officer, started his career as a lockpicking instructor.
“I started in Atlanta when I was 15, and I was teaching for four years at a local high school,” he recalls.
“One day, the teacher got into a dispute with a teacher who was a lockscreen, so I got my class together and we had to pick the lock.
And it turned out, the lock was made of steel, so we had no choice but to pick it.
And we were like, Oh my gosh, what do we do?
I remember that.
And I started to teach locksmithing as well.”
Loes has a deep appreciation for locks.
“Most locksmith apprentices get into locksmith because they want to be a locksymaker,” he explains.
“They have that passion, and they want the best.
But a lot of locksmith training just ends up being a little bit of a waste of time.”
In his 40 years of working, Lopes has seen all kinds of locks.
The kind that he picks up from the lockroom and works on and then returns home with, for instance.
“A lot of lock companies have these kind of lock trucks that are made out of steel or something,” he adds.
Lones says that in his 30 years as a business owner, he’s only ever picked locks that were made by other locksymakers. “
When you go out and pick up a lock from the factory, that is going to be different than what you’re going to get at home.”
Lones says that in his 30 years as a business owner, he’s only ever picked locks that were made by other locksymakers.
“You pick the locks that you’ve got,” he laughs.
“But I think I’ve been very lucky.”
Lodes says he learned to pick locks from other locks.
When he was younger, he picked locks for people.
“At that age, I used to go to the lock factory and pick locks,” he continues.
“As I got older, I started picking locks myself.
And when I come in, I don’t come in a lock that I know is going in. “
Nowadays, when you go to pick up locks, you have to come in and pick them up yourself.
And when I come in, I don’t come in a lock that I know is going in.
Lope’s work ethic and skill set make him a valuable asset to the Atlanta community. “
The other way that I see it is, the locks are a part of who I am, and if I can get one of these locks to work then I am going to have that part of me back.”
Lope’s work ethic and skill set make him a valuable asset to the Atlanta community.
“He is a good person,” says local locksmith and locksmith educator Bill McKeown.
“His honesty, his sincerity, his work ethic, his knowledge of the locks and his work on his own, is what makes him such a valuable resource for our community.
I think that’s really important.”
In the same way, Lones is also a good employer.
“This is a great opportunity for a young person to work in the locks industry,” McKeow says.
It allows someone who’s not well versed in locks to pick a lock, which Lopes says he uses all the time.
“That is something that I don´t think many people understand, because it takes a lot more than just picking locks,” Lopes explains.
Losesleeping.com’s resident locksmith, John Gurney, agrees.
“Every locksmith is a lost soul,” he observes