What to do if You’ve Lost Your Safe Combination
At ACME Locksmith we sell safes, repair and work on all kinds of safes. One frequent question we get is, “I don’t have the combination to my safe, what do I do?”
The safe combination may have been lost, may be locked inside the safe (it happens more often than you’d think) or the owner may have recently discovered that there is a safe in the home they just purchased and they want to use it (this is common with in-floor safes).
Customers calling have all sorts of images from the movies. Typically that a safe-cracker can use a stethoscope to get in, but that is the stuff of movies. A good safe is built with security features specifically aimed to keep people out and only the combination, or a few other things that your local locksmith is able, to do can get you in.
In this blog post, we discuss how safes work and what options you have available to get back in. If you have the combination but it’s not working, check out our post “How to Dial a Safe Combination.” Let’s begin.
Step #1: Is the Safe Open
If the safe is open, this is the best case scenario. A local locksmith can decode or change the combination to a dial safe and often reset an electronic safe lock back to its factory defaults.
If you can bring the safe into a lock shop, you will save the most money (well under $100). If you cannot, a service charge is standard in for safe service and would be in addition.
That’s all there is to it.
But if the safe is closed and locked, continue reading…
Step #2: Identify Your Safe
The first and most important thing is to determine the kind of safe you have. Why? It gives your local locksmith an idea of what they are looking at in terms of anti-theft measures. People place all sorts of items into safes it it’s these items that originally determined what kind of safe they chose to purchase. Safes not intended for expensive content are usually cheaply made. Safes meant to hold tens of thousands of dollars are usually, if you chose wisely, well made.
You will need to find the brand, model and serial number of the safe so we can research it.
The brand is usually the easiest to find. Most of the time manufactures put this on the door of the safe. Many manufactures also put the serial number on the bottom corner of the door. Finding the model for the safe can be a bit trickier. Most manufactures are placing model numbers on the back of the safe. So if your safe is bolted down or too heavy to move, you may not be able to find it.
If you cannot find the model number, but were lucky enough to find the serial number of the safe, your next step is to call the manufacture of the safe and give them the serial number, they will tell you what model it is from that number.
When you can find the brand, model, and serial number of the safe, a locksmith can determine the correct drill points of the safe and get into the safe without irreparable damage.
If you cannot find the serial number, you will need to send pictures of the safe to your local locksmith. From the images and brand name we can usually get pretty close to the correct model number.
Step #3: Is There a Key Override?
Does your safe have a key that could be used to open the safe instead of entering the code. Some safe manufactures, typically inexpensive cheap safes, provide this as a second method to get into the safe.
Key overrides are extremely helpful because a local locksmith can often can gain access to the safe by picking the lock or making a key to it. Note that on high-end, high security safes, there is usually a key that must be used WITH the combination. These are not bypass keys and can’t be used to get into the safe on their own.
If there is a number stamped near the keyhole of the key override, a locksmith should be able to get into the safe quickly, without damage, and reset the combination of the safe for you.
Step #4: Is it a Cheap Safe?
With the brand and model number, or often from a photo of the safe, the locksmith can determine the value of the safe itself. Here’s why you want that information. Safe crackers are expensive. To professional drill and repair a safe can easily exceed several hundred dollars. If you safe cost less than $400, it is often in your best interest to simply break in and buy a new safe.
At ACME Locksmith, we’ll come to you location and break in to a cheap home safe, like those sold by Sentry and Honeywell for under $100. We know exactly how to get in quickly. But once in, the safe will no longer function.
Once the value of your safe gets over $400, it will depend on your end goal as to which action is best to take. Is it a floor safe that you want to start to use? Is it a safe that you just want to know if anything is inside of it? Etc…
If you simply break in, replace the safe with a good safe sold by ACME Locksmith.
Step #5: Retrieve the Combination or an Override Code
You will need to hire a locksmith in order to try these two things. Safe manufactures will not provide this data over the phone for security reasons.
Safe Dial Combination Retrieval
If the safe is a dial, and you were able to find the serial number, the locksmith will most likely will be able to retrieve the original combination to the safe. So long as the safe combination has never been changed, this will open the safe. The locksmith will then be able to set the safe combination to whatever numbers you desire. Or, if you’d like, the locksmith can replace the dial of the safe with an electronic safe lock.
Electronic Combination Override
If your safe has an electronic lock, the safe serial number or the serial number of the electronic safe lock itself, can be used to see if there is a master override code for the safe. Entering the override code will reset the electronic lock so that the locks default combination will work.
To perform these services at ACME Locksmith, or your local locksmith, we will need to go to the location of the safe and verify you are the owner of the property the safe is in. We will not attempt either of these two techniques to open the safe without this verification.
Drill the Safe
As a last resort, the safe will need to be drilled by a professional. With the model and serial number, the locksmith (aka safe cracker) should be able to get the drill points of the safe and this makes getting into the safe more affordable than if this information were not available. The locksmith will know exactly where to drill as not trigger any of the safe’s security measures.
If you have not been able to determine the model and serial number, a locksmith can still drill the safe to get in and repair it after it is drilled so that it functions like new but it may be more costly. Typically it a pilot hole will be drilled and the safe scoped to determine where the drill point is. Without a drill point, sometimes a security feature will be triggered on the safe, such as a re-locker, and more drilling will be required.
When opening a safe by drilling, the safe’s lock body is destroyed and the safe lock will need to be replaced. Additionally, a hole will be in the door of the safe. This hole is plugged with a steal rod and ground off flush. Because this hole is under the old safe dial / safe electronic lock, the repair will not be visible.
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