Top Ten Ways to Crack a Safe

If you're ever gonna get into the bank robbing business (which is a really stupid idea, trust me, and this list is purely for fun and you may learn a thing or two from it, but it isn't serious), chances are that sooner or later you're gonna have to crack a safe. Now, thieves aren't idiots, despite what pop culture has shaped them to be. They have many intelligent tactics that they resort to when forced to crack a safe. Safes are resilient, durable things that are really hard to get into, so here's the top ten ways to crack a safe. Enjoy!
The Top Ten
1 Manipulation

A talented and skilled safecracker can usually work out the correct combination by listening with a stethoscope. I'll tell you how. Each number in a combination relates to a different wheel, which is right behind the dial, the part where you enter the combination.

If the correct wheels are turned and moved into place, the safe opens. A cracker can listen for the faint clicks as the wheels are moved into place and keep trying with the first digit until they hear the sounds signaling it is in the right place. They then repeat with the correct first digit before an unknown second digit, continuing until all the digits are correct.

When the correct combination is dialed, wheel notches line up, and the safe can easily be swung open. Who'd have thought?

2 Blow It Up

This one is definitely messy and not something most thieves resort to, but if all else fails, what you may have to do is just blow it up! The thief pours nitroglycerine into the door frame, inserts a fuse, lights it, and stands back!

It's quick, but it will cause an extremely loud noise, alerting guards to your situation. You must quickly get what's inside and go, go, go! In many cases, the loot will be harmed by the explosion, but if you're going for resilient precious metals, it should be okay. Only resort to this if you absolutely have to.

3 Rear Drilling

One of the more common ways of cracking a safe, though it has to be very precise and the thief has to be talented, is to drill in through the back. It would become very noisy, but maybe some thieves have more silent drills, which is why it's pretty popular.

They drill two holes in the back, one for the borescope, a special telescope that allows you to see very small things, like the mechanisms of a safe dial. The second hole is for a long screwdriver that could unscrew the lock from the inside (using the borescope to do it correctly). What if you drilled it at an incorrect angle and couldn't see where you wanted to, though? That would be disastrous yet hilarious.

4 Learn the Combination

This one is by far the simplest on the list. A way to crack a safe much easier than these complicated tactics using plasma cutters, borescopes, thermic lances, and the like is by just learning the combination. However, it's not as easy as it sounds.

It might take a lot of persuading, convincing, or confusing someone enough for them to let it slip. On the other hand, a surprising number of people forget to change the standard combinations set by the safemakers or even leave the number lying around the safe, making it astonishingly easy.

5 Diagonal Drilling

Another drilling option that isn't used as often as rear drilling but is still quite effective is diagonal drilling. You drill down diagonally from the upper front of the safe until there's a hole reaching the wheel mechanism.

Then, you insert a fiber-optic viewer borescope for watching the wheels while trying out the combinations. It's a lot like the tactic Manipulation, but instead, you can actually see the wheels instead of listening to them. This tactic is one of my favorites, but it's not very common, so I can't rank it that high.

6 Torching

Another hard but effective way to crack a safe is to burn the dial or door frame. While not many thieves use it, skilled ones perform it efficiently.

The safecrackers will get very hot under the collar with the amount of energy needed to burn something so durable, but they can manage to burn the lock. Usually, they use a simple oxyacetylene burner, but with state-of-the-art gear, better options include a plasma cutter or thermic lance. Don't try this at home because it is dangerous.

7 Brute Force

This method of cracking a safe is quite common, but many attempts are unsuccessful and leave traces of someone trying to open it. This tactic involves damaging the safe by smashing it with a club or chucking it off roofs until the safe doesn't work anymore and the stuff inside can be retrieved.

I think it would cause the stuff inside to be damaged, but I guess the thieves didn't. Usually, thieves use either explosives, acetylene torches, drills, thermal lances, and other cool gadgets.

8 UV Lights and Ink

One of the simpler ways to crack a safe, and just so you know this tactic only works on an electronic safe with a digital keypad, is by using ultraviolet lights and ultraviolet ink. First, the thief sprays the electronic keypad with the UV ink and then shines a UV flashlight on it to reveal finger marks. Then, they press where the finger marks are, and presto!

There's probably also a way to use tape and other materials, but that's Nick Fury's domain, not mine.

That sounds really cool, actually.

9 Front Drilling

Another drilling method is front drilling. The safecracker drills out the lock. After drilling through to the lock wheels, they insert a rod to push the fence (bolt) out of the way before easily opening the safe.

10 Software Programs

Interestingly enough, some software programs will do the work for you! Clever computer software linked to a safe will run through all the possible combinations until they find the right one. Lazy safe crackers and robbers can just put their feet up and relax while waiting for their computers to unlock the loot. Sounds like the way of the sloth...

That will only work if the safe has software. It could be a physical safe that isn't technological.

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