Cracking Safes & Opening Safes

Safe Cracking is the process of breaking open safes. Different procedures may be used to crack a safe, depending on its construction.

A Typical Dial Safe

A Typical Dial Safe

Safes have been used by man since centuries. In late 18th century solid metal safes were created and throughout 19th century, safe-cracking techniques were broadly used in bank robberies. The 20th century had stronger, high-tech safes which provided more security.

We can't, and shouldn't ignore the fact that even the toughest of safes can be opened with a bit of knowledge and experience. Every lock is vulnerable in some way.

Safes and vaults are generally found in most American households and are used for securing valuable objects against theft or damage. One can find different safes for various purposes. Apart from the general safes one will also find gun safes, fire safes, and vaults.

Gun safes are chiefly used to thwart access to unauthorized or unqualified parties, for burglary protection, and to protect the contents from damage during a flood or fire. A fire safe is a type of safe that is intended to guard its contents from high temperatures or actual fire. Jewelry safes are burglary and fire safes made specifically to house jewelry and valuables.

Simple Safe Dial Cutaway

Simple Safe Dial Cutaway

It has been noted by FBI that in 2008, there were 93 safe/vault robberies in banks.

Autodialing machines have been developed to open safes. These machines are usually specific to a particular type of lock and rotate through thousands of combinations to open a vault or safe.

While most safes are very difficult to open, most are vulnerable to unlocking by drilling or other physical methods. Punching, peeling and using a torch are other means to crack open a safe. A sensitive listening device is also used to determine the combination of a rotary combination lock.

Other methods of cracking a safe generally involve trying to open the safe by imposing severe force and damage. Generally explosives or other devices are used in these methods.

Cracking a Safe by One Drilling Method

Cracking a Safe by One Drilling Method

Most modern safes are fitted with 'relockers' which will permanently lock the safe, if excessive force is used to open it and key or combination will not open this type of safe. Extreme brutal force would be required to open this kind of safe after it has "relocked". Hence safe opening by manipulation is more likely method as compared to brute force.

Thermal imaging and X-ray radiation is also used to reveal the internal angular relationship of the lock's internal mechanism to figure out the combination of the safe. Bank vaults have been compromised by safe crackers who have tunneled into the vault by digging.

Towards the end of last century, and increasingly popular over the last 11 years is the art of "locksport", where hobby and professional lock pickers attempt to open various locks and safes.

This category comprises of handbooks and volumes written by expert locksmiths and security professionals and endows invaluable and hard to find information on safes. Discover their venerabilities, strengths and a vast array of methods used to crack them.


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