Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Safes for your Mullah and Gold?

Seems like fire safes are way more expensive than they used to be, this one is  $580.

I had a Sentry safe that was anchored down with (4) 1" stainless steel all thread set into concrete.   The safe was in a closet so that the only access was from the front and top.
The small 1" gap at the bottom of the safe would have left the stainless steel all thread exposed to a reciprocating saw, so I put a blob of epoxy to close off the hole/access for cutting.

For those in the know...stainless steel will completely dull a fast moving reciprocating blade in just seconds.     So even if a theif got to the hold down bolts, they would probably fry blade after blade.    The trick is that stainless steel needs to be cut very slow speed, and then the blade will last normally.

OK so that is my well protected safe.    It stopped opening.   After a few rounds with tech support from Sentry, which was pretty good, we all determined  that it was a lost cause.

I described the installation details to the tech support lady, and told her that I was a contractor with all the tools.   She suggested that I call a lock smith, and that she could give the "drill points" to the lock smith, which would destroy the safe.   I told her I am not going to pay a locksmith $150 to $200 to destroy my safe.    She wouldn't give me the drill points.    I told her I was just going to take a grinder and reciprocating saw and hack away until I was in, but that I was concerned that I might damage important papers inside the safe.   

She indicated that those tools were probably overkill and could damage the contents, and that most people just pried their way in.    She stated "it might not be as hard as you think".

So being a contractor, I got all of my pry bars and a few other tools and started to attack it.   I took out the shelves that were above it, so that I had at least one direction that I could pry into.   These was really helpful to have one pry direction.   For my next safe, I will build a permanent shelf or obstruction to preclude an easy pry direction.

I got into the safe in about 25 minutes, with no damage to the contents.   I started prying on the top because the tech support lady told me that there was only 1 pin on the top, and 2 on each other side.

There was also nearly no noise involved in the process.   A neighbor would definitely not have known that a safe break in was going on.

Moral of the story?    If you are buying a cheap safe (? under $600) don't put too much faith in it.    Don't put $50,000 in cash in, don't store even 3 gold coins in it.   

Real safes have solid steel doors and sides, they are very heavy and very expensive.   


  1. Thanks for the info. Most of the cheapie fire safes are very easy to get into, as you have discovered. Only way to make them work even half-way decent is:
    1. Nobody knows safe is there.
    2. Neighbors let you know if they see somebody breaking into your residence.
    3. Safe is securely fastened to floor (as you note). I prefer about 150lbs of concrete and rebar/fence wire.
    4. Live in a state where it is legal to shoot burglars if they are in your residence and you "fear for your life". That is a strong deterrent to burglary in my area.

    If all of these criteria cannot be met, then only a very expensive safe is useful.

  2. Also, the shooting thing only applies if you are there. Unless you train your German Shepherd to also shoot LOL


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