Ex-Locksmith Sold NYC Master Keys Online

Mayor Bloomberg says the ex-locksmith won't sell the master keys anymore

Tuesday, Oct 2, 2012  |  Updated 6:29 AM EDT
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The keys were being sold legally on eBay.

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A retired locksmith hawking keys, including a set of five he billed on eBay as a "firefighter's key ring," will stop selling them after some were found to open city electrical panels and lamppost lights, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Monday.

Daniel Ferraris sold the set of keys to a New York Post reporter for $150.

The five keys included three that could have come from any city electrician or Department of Transportation worker and opened electrical panels and lamppost boxes. The Post said at least a few of the keys worked and one opened locks at the World Trade Center construction site.

One of the other two keys was used to reset boxes with levers people pulled to trigger fire alarms, which are being phased out for more high-tech call boxes. The other, called a 1620 key, is used for elevators in emergencies.

Ferraris, who advertised the keys as "OBSOLETE FDNY FIREFIGHTER'S KEY RING - NEW YORK FIRE DEPARTMENT SET OF FIVE KEYS," refused to tell the newspaper where he bought them but said he's been buying keys for a while.

"I get them from different places," he said. "I was a locksmith for many years, and I go to shows and get some from collectors."

Ferraris, 69, did not respond to repeated calls by The Associated Press to his Union, N.J., home on Monday.

Bloomberg said the fire department is looking into the matter. The FDNY has a rule stating that when someone leaves, all department-owned materials must be returned. But enforcing that rule can be difficult, and with more than 11,000 firefighters at the nation's largest fire department, some items are bound to go missing.

Bloomberg said there's no way to totally prevent the keys from changing hands but officials will try.

"You're gonna have so many keys out there," he said. "You can pass a law saying it's bad to give 'em, or you'll go to jail, or we'll shoot you if you do it. In a practical sense, you have to have something that's enforceable."

Ferraris has sold other keys, including at least one apparently from the Los Angeles Fire Department.

Fire Department of New York spokesman James Long encouraged people to "think twice" about what they're selling.

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