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Locked Out of Safe: What Happens Next

February 21, 2018


There are many reasons for a safe to refuse to open. Regardless of why you are locked out, though, it is easy to become frustrated, angry, and even worried, especially if you have something inside with a great deal of either financial or sentimental value. Fortunately, you have options. Here’s what happens next.

Figure Out What Type of Safe You Have

If you call a locksmith and simply report that your safe won’t open, he or she can likely still gain entry. But the more information you can provide, the faster and easier the job will probably be. That’s because different types of safes from different manufacturers have different locking mechanisms, known issues, and quirks.

Look for a company logo on the front of the safe. Even a photo of a decal or illustration can alert your locksmith to the manufacturer and type. If you have purchasing documentation, there could also be a useful clue. As a last resort, at least note the size and general type of safe (wall-mounted, floor mounted, fireproof, gun safe, etc.).

Troubleshoot the Issue

You can do this yourself or leave it to your locksmith. Either way, someone will need to figure out why the safe won’t open. Maybe you broke off the key or forgot the combination. Perhaps the handle spins freely or won’t turn far enough to open, suggesting a bolt issue. You might have an electronic lock that needs a new battery.

If you or your locksmith can trace the issue to something simple, there could be a simple fix. For example, many smaller keypad-opened safes have an override code that can be entered to reset the lock. Others may have a reset switch inside that a locksmith can access with a special tool. A floor mounted or wall mounted safe may be accessible through an opening on the bottom or the back if not all pre-drilled bolt holes were used.

Safe Bouncing

Though it won’t work on a high-quality safe, some cheaper safes can be “bounced.” It requires a functioning bolt mechanism. Simply turn or jiggle the handle while striking the top of the safe. The idea is that the bolt mechanism will momentarily jump or bounce into place from the strike. This takes some finesse, and does not work at all on safes that are heavy or well-made, but is worth trying.

Lock Manipulation

This is the Hollywood-style safe cracking that involves spinning the dial and listening. It only works on safes with combination dials, and is the best way to open the safe without damaging it. However, it is highly recommended that you bring in a professional locksmith for the job, as it is not nearly as simple as the movies would have you believe.

There are other styles of lock manipulation that may be necessary for a stubborn safe or one without a combination dial. Your locksmith will need to drill a hole in the safe to insert tools that can manipulate the locking mechanism. This makes your safe marginally less secure, but if someone intended to burglarize your safe this way, it would only save them the time required to drill a hole.

Violent Entry

Violent entry is the last resort, as it will permanently damage the safe beyond repair. However, if the safe is too far gone for any of the above methods to work, or you urgently need access to the contents, it is a valid way to gain entry.

Never attempt violent entry to a safe on your own. The risk of injury is extremely high, especially if you are not entirely familiar with the construction of the safe. Choose a professional locksmith with training and experience in violent entry of safes.

Texas Premier Locksmith is known as one of the premier locksmith companies across the state of Texas. If you are ready to form a relationship with a reliable, trustworthy locksmith, please give us a call today at (866) 948-8188.