Combination safe locks are common in both residential and commercial settings. They’re often stowed away in home offices or storage areas, where homeowners might safeguard sensitive data such as social security cards, savings bonds, birth certificates and other valuables in the event there’s ever a home break-in or home disaster such as a flood or fire. They’re also common in commercial settings, notably banks and other high-security areas with hoards of sensitive data.
One reason as to why combination safe locks are so common is because they’re so effective. They’re able to keep stored contents secure and take a great deal of expertise – and time – to crack in the event of a burglary. However, it’s not unusual for a home or business owner to run into issues with their safe lock from time to time. Issues can be simple fixes, like dialing an incorrect combination. Or they can be much more complex and require the service of a professional locksmith. These instances include the failure or wearing down of the lock, internal part damage, loose dials or even forgetting what the combination is altogether. If you’re faced with a situation along these lines, it may be time to have a professional out to service your combination safe lock. And you may be surprised by the number of ways they can choose to open it.
How to Open a Combination Safe Lock
As we noted in the opening, one reason as to why combination safe locks are so common is because they do their job extremely well. You’ve likely seen movies where robbers hack into a bank’s safe lock and run off with thousands of dollars in cash before the police arrive. In reality, the thieves would have to be extremely skilled in lock hacking to accomplish this before the police arrive, as this can take most seasoned professionals hours to do.
Before we get into how a locksmith can go about opening a locked safe, it’s important to first check with the manufacturer of your combination safe lock. If it’s still under warranty, the manufacturer may send a professional out to troubleshoot your problem at no cost. But if that’s a no-go and your safe isn’t still under warranty, here’s a look at the different methods how a locksmith can open a locked safe:
Prying: This is the oldest trick in the book. It’s also the least effective. It simply consists of prying the door and the bolt work out of the door frame of the safe. With enough pressure, energy and time, it’s possible to accomplish, but usually not performed by a locksmith as it has a tendency to damage the safe beyond repair.
Cutting: Although a professional locksmith rarely takes this course of action to open a locked safe, it is a possible way of doing it. Using either a torch or a saw, the technician simply cuts into the safe. So why is it so rare? Because it’s messy, noisy, time consuming and damaging to the safe. What’s more is that depending on the material the safe is made out of, several sets of saw blades may have to be utilized due to dulling down.
Manipulation: Although safe manipulation is very time consuming, it’s far and away the most preferred safe cracking method, at least from a home or business owner’s standpoint. That’s because it’s not messy and leaves no trace of entry, so the safe doesn’t need to be repaired at all following the task. Manipulation consists of a locksmith uncovering the combination through touch or sound, as the majority of safe locks will vibrate or make a sound when the dials are turned in a specific manner. Locksmiths may even use stethoscopes as they work to aid them in hearing out the sound to open the lock sooner. While there are a handful of professionals around the world that can manipulate a lock in a matter of minutes, it takes most locksmiths at least an hour to complete this task. Like we said, although this is the preferred method, it’s also a highly specialized method.
Drilling: Another common safe-opening method, this consists of drilling a tiny hole into the safe where a precise instrument can then fit through so that the locksmith can visually see how to open the lock. After manipulation, drilling is the most preferred way to open a safe due to the minor repairs that are necessary afterwards and the relative speed of the process. However, it’s also worth noting that drilling isn’t quite as easy as it sounds. Many manufacturers are now safeguarding their safes with new, advanced interior technology so if the locksmith isn’t familiar with the lock they are working on, things could get very ugly and even more complicated
Scoping: Like drilling, scoping involves drilling a small hole into the safe. However, in this instance, the locksmith will insert a borescope into the hole to get an idea of how to open the lock. This is an ideal option to deploy when added security measures – such as glass re-lockers or manipulation-proof mechanical locks – are features of the safe in question. Also like drilling, scoping is effective, leaves little mess and is inexpensive to repair
As you can see, it’s not quite as easy to open a combination safe lock as Hollywood makes it seem, which is why you should always double, triple and quadruple check that you’re dialing the right combination before you call in for backup. And if you deem professional help to be necessary, be sure that you track down the following information and pass it along to the locksmith beforehand in order to ensure things go smoothly:
- The manufacturer
- The model number
- The approximate size of the combination safe lock
- Any tags that are mounted on the safe
For more information on how to troubleshoot a problematic combination safe lock or to call one of our professional, experienced locksmiths out to your home or business today, contact Great Valley Lockshop at (610) 644-5334 or send an email to [email protected].