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Experience in cracking safes?

  1. Nov 21, 2004 #1
    Was wondering if anyone here has any experience in cracking safes? It seems my now deceased uncle had a safe which we cannot open. We don't know what it has in it but in order to settle the estate the lawyer wants it opened. My uncle never married and has no children. We have pretty well gone through everything and haven't found anything that resembles a combination. Incidentally, it is mechanical with the dial and not electronic.
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 21, 2004 #2


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    Well its overglorified in the movies but on simple safes you can hear the little teeth mesh when the numbers are passed. But it had better be a simple one.

    Otherwise you need to drill it in the proper location and that's best left to someone familiar with that brand/model of safe. My father has been schooled on how to break into certain models and doesn't even bother guessing if its not one he's been specifically schooled on. Even when its one he's schooled on he dislikes the process because its easy to break a drillbit and turn it into a very long process.

  4. Nov 21, 2004 #3
    Hmmmm. Not very promising. LOL Anyone else?
  5. Nov 22, 2004 #4
    Could that safe withstand a welder?
  6. Nov 22, 2004 #5
    Apparently, what you need to do is contact a good locksmith and give him the make, model, and serial number:

    • Posted by Le Ann Schoenle Brainerd, MN on September 09, 2004 at 15:15:36:

      My father recently passed away and his residence is in St. Johns, AZ. He has an older safe in the house with a combination lock on it. It is about 3 feet high and 2 1/2 feet wide and is a dark pewter color. The combination lock also has a handle on it. In the upper left corner on the front is a red/gray metal plate that has a sideview of an Indian in a headdress and it has the work Protectal with it.

      There is a serial number on it, but unforunately I forgot to bring the number home with me when I left his residence.

      The locksmith that is about 50 miles from that town said if he could find a company that dealt with this type of safe he could order the drill bits to hopefully open the safe. I need to know if anyone knows about this type of safe and if I would have the serial number could you help?
  7. Nov 22, 2004 #6
    Or, better yet, contact a "company that specializes in safes":

    • Le Ann, I agree with Bill's post. I don't know Arizona estate/probate law, but I do know safe work.

      If the locksmith isn't familiar with Protectall safes, as evidenced by what he said about finding someone who knows about them, one strike.

      The most telling piece of information is that he said he would have to order drill bits for the job. If he did much of this work he would always have drill bits and your safe would have been opened on his first and only visit.

      Get the legalities worked out and either pay to have the safe moved to a company that specializes in safes (look in Yellow Pages under "Safes") or pay whoever else you find to go to the safe.

      Also try to find a company with a safe technician who knows how to open safes by manipulation.

      Manipulation does not damage the safe or lock when successful. Though not every safe will open thus for even an experienced manipulator, such a person will always give that option a try before resorting to drilling.

      Or you can resign yourself to watching the local guy struggle and possibly damage the safe beyond repairability.
      Good luck.

      Ken Dunckel
  8. Nov 22, 2004 #7
    A welder? Well, the safe doesn't need to survive a welder. The stuff inside does. And I assume you mean a cutting torch? It is a fire safe so it should be able to take a certain amount of heat. I understand that a fire safe has lots of insulation between 2 layers of not very thick steel. One being the inside and the other the outside of the safe. But if I'm going to destroy it why not just drill it near the mechanism and try to figure out the combination that way as opposed to risk burning up the contents? And if that doesn't work, I'll just saw it apart. But I'm mainly looking into ways to figure out the combination. There must be some more advice out there right?
  9. Nov 23, 2004 #8
    why not trying to put a sledge hammer through the front of it once i was working with my dad clearing out the garage and we found an old safe at the back probably left there by the previous owners or something but anyway i gave a big one in to the door with my dad's sledge hammer and the thing just crushed like putty and nothing inside it was damaged mind you all there was, was some bits of old newspaper and letters which we burned.

    day without sunshine...............is like.....................well.....................scary!!!
  10. Nov 23, 2004 #9
    Why I don't do that is because if the sledge doesn't get through I have probably left the locking mechanism in an unopenable state. If I'm going to destroy the safe I will go through the side or back. That way if I still can't get through it there is still a chance of lock manipulation. I still prefer the manipulation method as a first choice because there is still a useable safe in the end.
  11. Nov 24, 2004 #10


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    IMHO its the lawyers responsibility to have it opened and the cost included in his fee.
  12. Nov 24, 2004 #11
    ^^^^Which comes out of the money I and a few others will inherit. And there isn't much to begin with.
  13. Nov 24, 2004 #12
    Do you have the brand and model? It's definitely your first step, if you insist on keeping the safe in good condition. Then you contact a locksmith, who could at least guide you to someone, or the manufacturer itself. I wouldn't expect to find much on the internet, safes are called as such for a reason. If one can easily find how to crack a safe on the internet, then there is some serious problem within the security industry.
  14. Nov 25, 2004 #13


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