I found a locked safe hidden at the back of a closet in my new house

Give Yale a call. They might be able to help you.


No, that GUARANTEES it will be empty.


From my extensive viewing of films, I can tell you that without a doubt, spraying freon on the hinges and then tapping them lightly with an ice pick will for sure open that sucker.


has anyone in the family found a doll that looks exactly like them?


yeah I can see the fun in figuring out how to crack it yourself. But if you ever hope to use it again you really should call a professional. Like wise vintage safes can be pretty valuable on their own, even if there’s nothing in it in the end. If you damage it while opening it its worth virtually nothing.

If Rob still wants to see about getting into it himself: From what I understand a lot old safes had fixed combinations pre-set from the manufacturer. So there are books meant for locksmiths that listed the possible combinations used, allowing you to look up combination sets by serial number. Or otherwise figure out the combination based on serial number. You might be able to find that information online.

Otherwise since its in your house and you have plenty of time you can always brute force it. Just work your way through the possible combinations one by one. But then that could take you decades. Depending on how many numbers.

To make it faster: with old/cheap safes you can sometimes feel where the tumblers engage by slowly, slowly, slowly, turning the knob (often while holding the handle under tension). The knob will catch, have greater resistance, or pop as it comes close to the proper number. Either telling you exactly what the number is, or greatly narrowing the number of combinations to try. Sort of the same thing as using the listening device, except instead of hearing where the tumblers bump into place you’re feeling it through the dial. I accomplished this once on a very old pad lock a friend needed to get into. It took us hours because we had no clue what we were doing.

I’ve also seen professionals carefully drill through the front plate of the door, at an appropriate spot (usually in front of wherever the tumblers are) and insert one of those flexible cameras or a scope (like that thing the doctor uses to look in your ears) to directly look at the tumblers as they go by. You see that a lot in movies, supposedly its absolute bunk for anything new or reasonably function. But for old safes remains a possibility. Apparently it doesn’t work with all safes, and can actually render it permanently sealed or otherwise inoperable if you fuck it up. So between damage to the safe, and potential screw ups it can remove all value or utility in the safe.

If you don’t want to preserve a functional safe. Well there are apparently tons of ways to cut into or otherwise breach the thing. I used to live in an apartment building with a ton of huge, vintage floor safes (we’re talking 7 foot tall monsters) scattered around. Apparently they were too large to practically move (cost wise). So they were simply disabled and left in place. Most of them appear to have had the dials pulled off, and all of the internals destroyed or removed. Almost all of them were open, a few were permanently sealed closed. A few lacked doors, having had their hinges cut through. All doors had multiple cut outs or drill holes where key pieces of the mechanism would have been.



Odds of the safe containing a Rick Astley single?


I’m guessing Jimmy Hoffa is in there.


Use the Richard Feynman method!

Contact the manufacturer and ask what default combination was being used when this thing might have been sold. Odds are the owner never changed it.

In his memoirs, Feynman wrote that even during the Manhattan Project, he found that most of the safes being used for top-security secrets still were set to their original combinations, and for the few that weren’t he usually could find the combination scribbled down somewhere in a nearby desk drawer. Eventually he got introduced to an expert safecracker and asked him how he did it, and found out the other guy was doing the same few things.


… and I see RyuThrowsStuff beat me to it.

I didn’t know about the books of combinations, though!


Richard Feynman used to like imagining himself a safecracker when he was working on the Manhattan Project. He made a few attempts with the safes at Los Alamos laboratories, but he finds he doesn’t have a lot of options as an amateur. One thing he found success with was to find out what the default combination set at the safe factory. In this case it was 50 - 25 - 50. In trying it he learned that some of the safes at the secure scientific facility had never received new combinations. He also learned that people in the 1940s tended to try easy-to-remember combinations, e.g. the digits of pi: 31 - 41- 59 or some other mathematical constant.
There’s no penalty for trying, I guess. Find a copy of Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman. It’s terrific reading in any case - funny, touching and brief.


A $14.99 grinder with a stack of metal cut off wheels will get you into that in 30 mins. Remember to tape off the area and wear protection for face and ears.


I’d recommend a locksmith because there is undoubtedly an ancient curse in there and you don’t want to get hit with it. Most professional locksmiths will have the appropriate dissipation spells at the ready.


A friend ordered a bunch of vintage ones from Ebay when we were in junior high. His dad’s office had a bunch of old safes, he was told if he could get into them he could take one home. Never got into one but he ended up with a stake of safe cracking manuals and old manufacturer code lists in his bedroom.


I’d build a DIY safe cracker like this one. http://hackaday.com/2009/07/21/gentle-safe-cracker/


Would probably get better results if he called MIT…



Reading up on it, bring elbow grease and patience. If the previous owner didn’t open it it’s bound to be pretty well stuck even if you have the combo.


Don’t bother attacking the hinges or buying listening equipment. There are no “tumblers”, but wheels.

Read Matt Blaze’s paper on safecracking. Buy a similar lock on eBay, or from a locksmith, possibly with (open) safe attached. Learn how to manipulate safe locks. Open your safe.

My first time through was with an S&G group 2R lock. I got it open in ~2 hours. It’s a fun skill to have.


I’d check with a locksmith. Personally, having access to something like that is pretty cool, so preserving it would be key.