Frequently Asked Questions
What makes a good safe?
There are two types of safes worth having: those that resist burglary, and those that resist fire. A few safes have both of these qualities. Some have neither, though the marketing may claim otherwise. For a good burglar-resistant safe, look for drill-resistant barriers, relock devices, and a good lock.
Common burglary-resistance ratings are as follows:
- B-rate: resistance by design, conforming to the B-rate standard; door is 1/2” mild steel or equivalent, and walls are 1” mild steel or equivalent. Resistance not verified by testing.
- C-rate: a higher level of resistance by design, conforming to the C-rate standard; doors and walls are beefier than on a B-rate safe. Resistance not verified by testing.
- E-rate: a very high level of resistance by design, conforming to the E-rate standard; doors and walls are even beefier than on a C-rate safe. Resistance not verified by testing.
- U.L. TL-15: extremely resistant, conforming to a U.L. standard, as demonstrated by limited testing.
- U.L. TL-30: extremely resistant, conforming to a U.L. standard, as demonstrated by more stringent testing.
For overnight storage of thousands of dollars, I recommend a safe with a U.L. listing or equivalent rating of at least TL-15.
What makes a good lock?
On any safe intended for burglar-resistance, I recommend locks that meet or exceed the standards of U.L. Group 2 or an equivalent. Sargent & Greenleaf and Chubb make some excellent mechanical combination locks, while Millennium and LaGard make good electronic models. The qualities of the locks vary greatly by model.
How do you crack a safe?
It’s a lot like in the movies. The general idea is there anyway, but some of the details are different. My methods include the use of various tools, not the least of which are the fingers of my right hand. I also use amplifiers, borescopes, and drills as needed. I have not yet attempted to open a safe underwater. I do not use nitroglycerin or any other explosive. Sometimes that does sound like fun, but I prefer to leave the safe undamaged. When I use a drill, it is to make a rather small hole that helps me get the safe open without damage to the lock. At the end of any job that requires such a penetration, I repair the hole, replacing any drill-resistant barrier materials with equally drill-resistant materials, such as hardened steel bearings and tungsten-carbide chunks.
Is there any safe you can’t open?
No. Some safes, however, make certain techniques infeasible. This is where the safecracker needs a mastery of various techniques. Don’t worry. I’ll get it open.
How much do you charge?
As of March 2014, my service rates are as follows:
- Travel is billed at a rate of two dollars per mile, with an eighty-dollar minimum. This is calculated based on the total round-trip distance from and back to The Safe House headquarters in Meridian, Idaho.
- Labor is charged at a rate of two hundred and twenty dollars per hour, with a two-hour minimum for safe openings and a half-hour minimum for all other services. Payment must be in cash or as a check at the time of service, unless otherwise arranged in advance.
- Additional charges will apply for any parts required, but these charges are usually minimal except in cases of major malfunction. There is no charge for the tungsten-carbide-tipped or diamond-tipped drill-bits or other expendable materials that may be used up in the process of breaching a safe.
The price for a safe or lock varies with the level of security and other features. I sell good security products at fair prices, but there’s no one-size-fits-all security solution. Just give me a call, and I’ll be glad to discuss your security needs with you.
What do you do when you’re not cracking safes?
Sometimes I play a sweet electric guitar with cool custom pick-up wiring. I’m better at the wiring than I am at the playing. But anyway, here’s some instrumental music for your enjoyment: The Star-Spangled Banner (MP3)
I’m also a community defense enthusiast.