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For Book: Questions About Safes
Old 02-14-2018, 01:11 PM   #1
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For Book: Questions About Safes

For the book I'm working on, someone has to get into standard dial combination safe without knowing the last number of the combination.

I was able to open my Sentry safe in this situation, dialing the first two numbers, then moving the dial along while trying the handle. When it hit the last number, the handle turned.

Question 1: Would the same trick work on higher-quality safes?

Question 2: Do all higher quality safes have four-number combinations?'

Question 3: My safe has a margin of error of about one number. True for most?

I'm talking a safe that a rich person would have in his/her condo. In 1978.



Thanks.
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Old 02-14-2018, 02:34 PM   #2
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I don't know the answer, but it makes me wonder: Just how do you write a mystery story without attracting unwanted attention from law enforcement?

"I need a colorless, odorless, undetectable poison for my villain. Any ideas?"

"How can I have my character off his wife without it showing up in the autopsy?"

Good evening, Officer. How can I help you?
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Old 02-14-2018, 02:40 PM   #3
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No, not exactly as described.
With an S&G lock like the one on the safe pictured, after you dial the last number, you have to turn the dial in the opposite direction until it stops, then try the handle. You would have to re-dial the first two numbers every time you tried a new 3rd number. You could do it given enough time.
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Old 02-14-2018, 03:50 PM   #4
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I agree with Geld... My safe has a 3 number combo and after hitting the 3rd number you turn in the opposite direction until the dial stops then turn the handle. Also my dial has a key lock which I keep locked.
Interesting story. Years ago at a weekend house we owned a group of not so smart guys broke in, saw the safe and decided to break into it. It was a cheaper one and after breaking off the dial with a hammer and not getting it open they used an axe and hammer to split open the side to remove the contents. Then took pictures of themselves with all the loot. Then dropped the camera in the back yard. Yes I developed the pictures and brought them to the sheriff. He looked at them, shook his head, and said "Yep, not surprised it was these guys".
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Old 02-14-2018, 04:56 PM   #5
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I'm not sure if I agree with the previous two comments. Since the time period is 1978 I think there's a good chance the safe would work the way your (Al's) safe does. The "turn the knob until it stops" process didn't come along until later, if I remember correctly. I'm not sure what rich people had back them. But I doubt they were even as secure as what normal people have these days.
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Old 02-15-2018, 08:41 AM   #6
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Back in those days, it was common to take a 5 or 6 foot long thin rod and duck tape it to the safe's handle. Mark the extreme outside end of the rod on the wall. As you slowly turned the dial, the rod would dip at certain points. Mark those points and make a record of the number. Do this all the way around the dial. Then spin the dial in the opposite direction and do it again in reverse. At the end of the process you will have either the 3 or 4 number combination numbers. Now just use those numbers in a variety of "combinations". This will work almost every time. On older safes, I can usually figure the combo out in 20 minutes or less.......
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Old 02-15-2018, 10:41 AM   #7
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Good info, thanks.

>Just how do you write a mystery story without attracting unwanted attention from law enforcement?

It's an issue that many fellow writers have discussed, and I have it in mind every time I search for nefarious stuff on the intergoogle.

Also, it's interesting to see how much info is out there. I now know exactly how to pick a lock. The theory is simple, and I'm pretty sure with some practice I could learn to do it. I'm tempted to buy some lockpick tools, readily available on the net, just for fun.

An excerpt from one of my books:
She inserted the tension tool at the bottom of the keyway and exerted gentle pressure. No lock is machined perfectly, and she closed her eyes, picturing the one pin inside that would prevent the cylinder from turning. Sliding the pick tool in, she moved the individual pins, testing the resistance of each. Click! There. She’d located that first pin. On to the next.

In theory, lock picking is simple. Continue freeing pins until the final one lines up, and the lock will open. In practice, though, it’s an art. Viviana had mastered the art, but this lock wasn’t cooperating. As she’d suspected, it had at least one sophisticated feature: spool, serrated, or even rotating pins. She shouldn’t have wasted her time on it. On to Plan B.
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Old 02-15-2018, 10:54 AM   #8
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When I was in my 20s, I took a mail order locksmithing course that included dealing with door locks, padlocks, safes, making keys from scratch, picking all types of locks, rekeying old locks, everything you could think of. It was fascinating and the skills have served me well many times over the years.

Locks have improved quite a bit since those days, and there are some that are simply unpickable, but the basics really haven't changed much.
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Old 02-15-2018, 11:22 AM   #9
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... the skills have served me well many times over the years.
Now, there's a statement that could attract the attention of authorities.

Want to elaborate?
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Old 02-15-2018, 11:25 AM   #10
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On to my next search.
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Old 02-15-2018, 11:37 AM   #11
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As she’d suspected, it had at least one sophisticated feature: spool, serrated, or even rotating pins. She shouldn’t have wasted her time on it. On to Plan B.
[/INDENT]
Rotating "bottom key pins" were a feature of Medeco Biaxial Locks. They were originally thought to be absolutely "un-pickable", but, then we all learned how to use "key bumping" and moved onto the next challenge!!
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Old 02-15-2018, 11:47 AM   #12
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Now, there's a statement that could attract the attention of authorities.

Want to elaborate?
I guarantee there was never anything illegal.

But I helped friends get into their apartments a couple of times when they had lost their keys. Also rekeyed my own locks whenever I moved into a new home. Handy stuff!
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Old 02-15-2018, 11:50 AM   #13
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I guarantee there was never anything illegal.
Yeah, right. If I had a dollar for every time I heard that ...
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Old 02-15-2018, 01:23 PM   #14
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Now I need to find out what to put into someone's drink to make them sick, simulating food poisoning.

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Old 02-15-2018, 01:30 PM   #15
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Now I need to find out what to put into someone's drink to make them sick, simulating food poisoning.


I've heard Visine eye drops will do that.
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Old 02-15-2018, 01:31 PM   #16
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He looked at them, shook his head, and said "Yep, not surprised it was these guys".
Reminds me of the news item about the two guys who waded through a couple feet of snow to steal from the next house over........tracks there and back.
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Old 02-15-2018, 07:04 PM   #17
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I've heard Visine eye drops will do that.
That looked good, but snopes.com says no:

https://www.snopes.com/medical/myths/visine.asp

I decided to evade the issue (note that Samuel talks funny):

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Old 02-15-2018, 09:53 PM   #18
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ipecac syrup in the right dose would probably work. Just like he says, just something to make him sick.
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Old 02-17-2018, 01:30 PM   #19
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When in doubt, check utube. No need for bad guys to waste time with the combination. There are many others to watch.




This is scary stuff.
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Old 04-24-2018, 02:27 PM   #20
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Thanks again for the help. I have published the book and you can see it here.
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