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

Thunderbolt & Lightfoot


You can just hire Otto Preminger to do it for you.

Anyway if you do call a locksmith, be careful; I read an article somewhere recently on issues with locating an honest locksmith.


A lot of folks nay-sayed the mic idea but assuming the mechanism isn’t dead, I’m with you there. A decent phantom-powered mic in a house on a quiet sunday morning with the electricity off, an ok amp and some speakers and folks would be surprised what they can pick up.

Although, I’ll bet a fiver the set up I’m describing would be worth more than the contents of the safe (the cheapest (but still usable for this purpose) mic I have runs about $100, H4n for phantom power and amp probably about $200, headphones … at least $160 … total cost $460 not counting cables and batteries).


I asked an expert about the lock, and it looks like there’s the possibility of it having four wheels, not three, bringing your more optimistic possibility back up to just under four months, spending 12 hours a day doing nothing but trying combinations.


In this case I’d suggest some form of a contact mic, and bond it directly to the metal.

Thought. Could you get rid of the mains hum by DSP? E.g. using a second channel with a similar cable and a dummy microphone acting as load, to which the same EMI would induce, and then subtract the signals?


Great film. Later on didn’t they end up cutting through a safe using some magnesium rods or something crazy like that? Or maybe I’m conflating this with another heist film. It’s been a long time since I last watched Thief in its entirety.


Probably could but depending on how quiet the sound of the mechanism is, you may run the risk of signal processing it out of existence. The H4n (at least the original model) has a nasty 60hz hum if you use it on mains anyway.

In theory, I’m more concerned about the other incidental noises caused by leaving the mains on. The base noise level of a even remotely modern house is pretty loud … particularly when you’re opening the gates wide open and boosting the sound.

Most of the time, humans don’t notice … but when the power goes out on your street in the middle of winter, the difference is pretty stark. I’m mostly able to ignore the ringing my ears until that scenario comes into play. Then it’s like “when the hell did I get tinnitus?”


My parents have a very similar model, turn-of-the-century era. Cutting the hinges off won’t help at all, as the door fits into the cabinet with a series of setbacks (angles back then in on all four sides about four or five times, kind of like steps). There are four 1" bolts that slide from the door into the cabinet, two to each side. There’s no way to get to them to cut them, because of the stepped feature. Your best bet is to get someone who knows how to use a stethoscope and listen for the lock dials to line up.


ps - there are wheels on the bottom, but if it’s the same as my folks’ they are oriented right/left, not forward back. The baseboard should pop off to reveal them.

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Thermic lances aren’t great for safecracking. You can get the safe open, but everything inside will probably be reduced to slag. That’s fine if you know the safe is full of gold, and you are in a hurry. But that rather suggests you are up to something naughty.


And inside will be a cassette tape, which, when you pop it into a player, will tell you that you fell for the most elaborate rick roll anyone’s seen…


Yeah, they used a burning bar.


That’s not the old Schrodinger place by any chance?


Oxygen lance, real-life. More on youtube too.

The burn-and-blow action is similar to the cutting electrodes for arc welding. They aren’t the best way to cut stuff as they make a LOT of smoke, but sometimes you don’t have a better choice.


@beschizza congrats on the new house!


Assuming that brute forcing it open is not on the table, what about contact-chilling the mechanism for a while to get some condensation to form inside it? This will have the effect of making the parts heavier, have more friction, and therefore more audible to a listening rig.

Also, some have suggested that applying tension on the handle at the same time as turning the dial could engage the lock and cause louder clicks. I would do both at the same time.

Personally, it’s an antique and I would not want to angle grind/drill/damage it in any way. I’d want to know the combination so that I could USE the safe. But then again, maybe a newer safe would be better to have in that spot.


Sure, I could do it, but Robbie, I told you, I’m retired. We barely made it out after the Singapore job. Now I have everything I need: my antique shop, my classic Fiat roadster, and most of all, Angela. She’s good to me, Robbie. She’s good for me. I can’t throw all that away on one last score.

[thirty seconds later]

Chavez and Muggs for explosives. Dallas Pete can grease the skids for us at the county recorder’s office. But we’ll still need a wheel man… and I think I know just the guy.


You could give this a whirl:

All you need is a big neodymium magnet and anything that is an excuse for buying one of those is a good day.