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Re: Old Safe help

Posted By: Ken Dunckel Safecracker-Boxman <kendunckel@aol.com> (cache-ntc-aa09.proxy.aol.com)
Date: 7/26/5 07:40

In Response To: Re: Old Safe help (jim tapley)

This is one of the most common questions re: old safes.

If the combination is unknown and unrecoverable you should look in the Yellow Pages, first under the heading "Safes," and if nothing there, under "Locksmiths."

Some locksmiths are very good with safe opening, some not, but most advertise safe service anyway. A safe specialist specializes, and that's what he or she does.

If you contact someone who is unsure if they can do the job, I advise not hiring that outfit, and certainly not paying for no result. If you have someone who can't do it in one visit, again, this is usually not a specialist. If you hire someone who comes, messes around for one or more hours then gives up, but wants to charge for trying and failing, he shouldn't have started in the first place. If a non-safeman has spent time drilling hole(s) in your safe and gives up, expect to pay a competent safeman more than you would have if you'd called him first.

Some safemen can open some (not all) safes without the need for drilling. This process is known in my industry as manipulation. Not all safemen manipulate, but even manipulators must resort to drilling when manipulation is not productive.

When done professionally drilling to open a safe does not ruin the safe, and the drilling work is repairable, often to the point of not being noticeable. Safe owners should not try to stipulate which opening method the safeman uses. It's like taking your car in for repairs and trying to stipulate to the mechanic which tools they are limited to in their work.

Also, try to refrain from imagining that a safe opening accomplished by manipulation was less work and should therefore cost less.

First, you're buying the result, not the process or any sweat. Second, manipulation can be more mental work than many people can even contemplate, and when you see a fast result you are often in the presence of someone who has devoted a great deal of time effort and mental distress to learning what amounts to an obscure but valuable skill. Just because you didn't see a manipulator do anything but turn the dial this way and that for a few minutes (or a few hours) does not mean there was little or no effort, and it's ignorant at best and offensive at worst to have customers suggest this.

When you hire a manipulator, don't worry -- the manipulator wants that safe to open that way more than you want it to. If he or she determines it must be drilled, it's not the end of the world or the safe.

The alternative to all this is to do it yourself for free. A safe with a one hundred number dial typically has a three number combination (although many older units have a four number combination). Each combination number can be from one to one hundred. The theoretical combination possibilities are therefore 100 x 100 x 100, or 1,000,000.

To do it yourself for free you would merely dial every possible combination sequentially until the safe opened. Do the arithmetic of how long it would take you to dial one tenth of the possibilities (100,000) at a rate of one full combination every 30 seconds and if it sounds easy and fast, go ahead. Last, you must the correct dialing sequence for the particular lock model in the safe (Left-right-left or right-left-right) and how many turns for each setting, or even the correct combination won't open the safe.

If what the safeman does looks easy, remember, that is also part of the job of a pro. The fact that he or she doesn't seem to be struggling should be reassuring, not disquieting. The less-skilled and inexperienced are the ones who struggle. Ken Dunckel Owner, Safecracker Editor-Publisher, Boxman

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