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Opening a Sentry safe
Old 04-20-2007, 01:54 AM   #1
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Opening a Sentry safe

As some of you know, i've been dealing with a number of fun and entertaining moving related situations, including as of a couple of days ago, the apparent loss of the keys to our fire safe during the packing process.

Oh, i'm sure they're somewhere...

In the meanwhile, the wife has been asked to produce her social security card and birth certificate in order to continue the employment process she's so far enjoyed thoroughly, as part of both the latent california immigration and national anti terrorism processes.

We very much like the salary continuation and benefits commencement programs, and of course...both documents are in the safe.

And its a painful situation which led to a sleepless night for the wife, who allegedly packed the areas containing the equally alleged key.

Sooo...after some cajoling of the manufacturer, which was promising but a slow process (maybe taking 10 days or so, plus a notarized letter stating that I am the owner, which if you think about it, is an extremely worthless process/document...after all, I could go get a notarized letter saying that I am the sole owner of the only pile of larks vomit in the universe, and there we'd be...me with my letter, and actually owning no larks vomit whatsoever), and the idea of box diving or going back to the old house to poke in various corners and remaining unpacked areas...

It occurred to me that I *am* the owner of a very large reciprocating saw, a hefty pry bar, a half a box of Black Box chardonnay, its dark and I have sunglasses for eye protection. Which are all necessary because its 11 o'clock at night and i'm doing this in the garage and trying not to wake the wife OR the two year old.

All in all it turned out to be a fairly painless process, which would have been a quick one had I been more aware of the general construction, which is the point of this entire post. And I own three of these and have seen several others, and believe them to all be of the same basic setup. So hope this helps, god forbid you should ever have to pry one of these open...

Basically its a thick sheet metal box, inside of which is a couple of inches of what feels like almost dry concrete with fibers in it, which I'm sure is highly carcinogenic because i just breathed a half pound of it, within which is a thin plastic box which has your stuff in it.

After looking at the unit and thinking "I could saw that hinge off and...discover that they have four slide bolts holding the door in and still be stymied and..." then it occurred to me that in all the old bad movies i've watched that the safe crackers didnt go for the door, which is the obvious target, but for the least obvious point of attack, which is the back or the bottom.

In this case, either will do.

Theres a seam in the sheet metal along the top and bottom, and one around the back (back being the part opposite the door). Using a thin screwdriver and a hammer, I was able to part the seams and then pry the rivet points (about every inch and a half) off with a 2' pry bar. Once I had the seams open about 5", it was easy to attack the seam around the rear of the box and pull that completely off.

Once you have that off, remove all the fireproofing material by prying chunks of it off with said pry bar until you have clear access (an inch or two) of the back of the plastic inner box. Tip the unit onto its door and shake gently to get all your documents away from the back and using your reciprocating saw, cut off the rear of the plastic box along two adjoining seams, pull it up and push all your documents down to the bottom of the box, then cut off the rest.

If noise were not a factor, I'd have simply cut the back off using a metal blade in the saw, maybe about two inches from the surface, then pulled off the fire insulating material, then cut the back of the plastic box off...saving 20 minutes and two glasses of chardonnay.

Gosh I hope this is eventually helpful to someone, and I equally hope its never necessary.

(PS...I should have just run it over with the truck...it'd have been just as effective and a lot faster...)

All this having been said, any spa/jetted tub experts who can help me figure out how to get this sucker from leaking from the joint where the tile guys lost the gasket between the inline heater and the pump?
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Re: Opening a Sentry safe
Old 04-20-2007, 07:33 AM   #2
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Re: Opening a Sentry safe

Locksmith? May be able to get cost covered by your HO Policy (long shot)?
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Re: Opening a Sentry safe
Old 04-20-2007, 07:45 AM   #3
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Re: Opening a Sentry safe

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Originally Posted by OAG
Locksmith? May be able to get cost covered by your HO Policy (long shot)?
Only if you have a deducible less than $50.
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Re: Opening a Sentry safe
Old 04-20-2007, 09:24 AM   #4
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Re: Opening a Sentry safe

Congrats.

Did you surprise DW with the documents in the morning? Did she treat you like a hero?
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Re: Opening a Sentry safe
Old 04-20-2007, 09:34 AM   #5
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Re: Opening a Sentry safe

Nah, I went upstairs right away, pinched her toe until she woke up and told her it was open so she didnt have to have another bad nights sleep.

At a 5000 deductible, I'd have to smash open a lot of safes.

If by 'treat like a hero' you mean 'mumble "thats nice", roll over and go back to sleep', yes, I received the hero's welcome.

[img width=750 height=562]http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e369/cutefuzzybunny/Safe.jpg[/img]

Now I just have to hope that all that white insulating material wasnt asbestos... :P
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Re: Opening a Sentry safe
Old 04-20-2007, 09:42 AM   #6
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Re: Opening a Sentry safe

Mute question after CFB's picture but, I have $1000 deductible and USAA has opened my car once (sent a 3d party lock smith) AND repaired my windshield from rock chips once -- no cost in either case -- and yes the annual rate stayed the same or went down subsequently. Does not hurt to ask.
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Re: Opening a Sentry safe
Old 04-20-2007, 10:47 AM   #7
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Re: Opening a Sentry safe

"It occurred to me that I *am* the owner of a very large reciprocating saw, a hefty pry bar, a half a box of Black Box chardonnay, its dark and I have sunglasses for eye protection."

O.K., so booze and powertools and sunglasses at night. Are you sure you weren't trying to improve DW's portfolio and SWR with your life insurance money??

So this is why the safes at Costco have bolt holes so you can attach it to the floor. Obviously some people have come home to find their safe gone so the burglers could work at it at their leasure. Phew! :P
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Re: Opening a Sentry safe
Old 04-20-2007, 11:04 AM   #8
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Re: Opening a Sentry safe

Quote:
Originally Posted by Laurence


So this is why the safes at Costco have bolt holes so you can attach it to the floor. Obviously some people have come home to find their safe gone so the burglers could work at it at their leasure. Phew! :P
Yeah, I suppose that COULD happen. But my safe is bolted and weighs more than 600 pounds empty. It would be kind of funny to come home and find 2 burglers having cut the bolts and trying to move it upstairs. Most likely they would be rolling on the floor having ripped all of their lower back muscles. I imagine at that point they would be easy fodder for my remington 870

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Re: Opening a Sentry safe
Old 04-20-2007, 11:19 AM   #9
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Re: Opening a Sentry safe

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Originally Posted by saluki9
Yeah, I suppose that COULD happen. But my safe is bolted and weighs more than 600 pounds empty. It would be kind of funny to come home and find 2 burglers having cut the bolts and trying to move it upstairs. Most likely they would be rolling on the floor having ripped all of their lower back muscles. I imagine at that point they would be easy fodder for my remington 870


You might be surprised what thiefs will do... I work for a bank and one of our project managers was telling me a story of one of our ATMs. I was in a concrete walled off are that was in a U shape with dirt behind it... D for Dirt, C for concrete, A for ATM. Now, the ATM had the lights and other necessary things around it...

DDDDDDDDD
CCCCCCCCC
CC A CC
CC CC

Seems that someone thougth that a stick of dynamite would 'open' up the ATM. Well, when the police arrived after getting a few calls, there was nothing left in the U shape... no lights, no camera, no hanging wires... nothing... however they found the ATM machine inside a store across the street.. fully intact..

Thiefs can be stupid...


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Re: Opening a Sentry safe
Old 04-20-2007, 11:52 AM   #10
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Re: Opening a Sentry safe

I would laugh at a safe bolted to the floor.

Nothing a high lift jack and a two wheeler appliance dolly wouldnt solve pretty quick.

My dad was stopped at 11pm by the cops while taking a walk. Cop told him he looked suspicious and they were looking for two guys who stole a 500lb safe.

Apparently this crackhead officer was seriously considering my 70 year old dad as someone that might hold up their end of such a critter.
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Re: Opening a Sentry safe
Old 04-20-2007, 12:35 PM   #11
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Re: Opening a Sentry safe

And, BTW, what goes better together than chardonnay and power saws?

That safe is bigger than I had pictured.

My safe is bolted to the floor with very large lag screws.
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Re: Opening a Sentry safe
Old 04-20-2007, 01:33 PM   #12
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Re: Opening a Sentry safe

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cute Fuzzy Bunny
I would laugh at a safe bolted to the floor.

Nothing a high lift jack and a two wheeler appliance dolly wouldnt solve pretty quick.

Ok, how about if it was in a basement that required lifting it up 2 flights of stairs? Oh yeah, also about 1000lbs of ammunition and other assorted goodies inside?
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Re: Opening a Sentry safe
Old 04-20-2007, 01:55 PM   #13
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Re: Opening a Sentry safe

It's all a matter of degrees. Most burglaries are over in a few minutes, they just look to quickly grab what they can and get out. If Ocean's 11 (12, 13, whatever) wants your safe, they'll take it. But guys looking for a DVD player to feed their habit are going to quickly give up on a bolted down safe.
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Re: Opening a Sentry safe
Old 04-20-2007, 02:30 PM   #14
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Re: Opening a Sentry safe

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Ok, how about if it was in a basement that required lifting it up 2 flights of stairs? Oh yeah, also about 1000lbs of ammunition and other assorted goodies inside?
Once an insurance agent of a company I worked for was telling me about another company they insured.....

They came in one day and all the computers and other equipment was stolen...

So, they decided that the new equipment would be bolted to the desks and to the floor...

Three weeks later they came into thier office and all the new computers and new office equipment were stolen (they knew it was new, they stole the old stuff!!!)...

But, every desk had a hole in it where they had used a chain saw to cut around the equipment....

BTW... this was back when personal computer cost an arm and a leg....

If they really want to get it... they will...
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Re: Opening a Sentry safe
Old 04-20-2007, 03:24 PM   #15
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Re: Opening a Sentry safe

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cute Fuzzy Bunny

Now I just have to hope that all that white insulating material wasnt asbestos... :P
It's Gypsum. It's pressed in wet so it forms tightly between the inner liner and the case. Gypsum is found in different grades, some have a fibrous content.
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Re: Opening a Sentry safe
Old 04-20-2007, 05:58 PM   #16
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Re: Opening a Sentry safe

So if I have a small safe that isn't bolted to the floor, what's the best way to bolt it into a concrete slab foundation.
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Re: Opening a Sentry safe
Old 04-20-2007, 06:13 PM   #17
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Re: Opening a Sentry safe

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Originally Posted by KB
So if I have a small safe that isn't bolted to the floor, what's the best way to bolt it into a concrete slab foundation.
Hilti bolts (wedge anchors) into the concrete and through holes drilled into the safe.
1. Drill holes through the side of the safe in contact with the concrete
2. Using the safe as a pattern, drill holes through the safe into the concrete with a hammer drill. Drill deeper than the length of the wedge anchors.
3. Pound the wedge anchors through the safe, into the concrete with just half of the height of the nut left after the pounding.
4. Tighten the nut with a socket wrench until you no longer can.

If you ever want to remove - open the safe - unscrew the nuts - pull the safe off the bolts, and pound the wedge anchors flush with the concrete (or even below and patch).
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Re: Opening a Sentry safe
Old 04-20-2007, 06:33 PM   #18
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Re: Opening a Sentry safe

A couple of well placed shotgun blasts would have woken up the whole block .....saved alot of time


Edit for spelling :
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Re: Opening a Sentry safe
Old 04-20-2007, 07:46 PM   #19
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Re: Opening a Sentry safe

Not as good as CFB's story ... and no pictures .... But worth the read. The last property I bought had a Meilink safe on the property. Thing had to be a 4 foot cube. Property was bank owned for years so I assumed some thieves just dumped it. Called the police with the serial number to see if it was stolen ... nothing. Called the company and learned that the model had a programable combo.

Called a lock smith who explained that Meilink safes are picked from the inside. For $500 and a notarized letter claiming ownership, he would drill a hole in the door and reach inside with scopes and pick the lock. Sooo I figured it might be nice to have if it worked... but I need to move it. Put my appliance dolly on it and tried to rock it back on the dolly ... didn't budge. I am over 200 lbs ... swinging ALL my weight on the top of an appliance dolly and this beast doesn't move an inch. At that point I knew it was scrap metal ...but WHAT's INSIDE?

I had hired a crew to rehab the building. So I said to the contractor, "I owned it, you open it; we'll split the contents." Sooo he said to the crew " open it on your own time we share 1/2 the contents." Many days - and a jack hammer - later, I am told the only thing in the safe was Service Merchandise credit applications and empty jewlrey boxes (I was working at mega corp when they cracked it open).

Talking to the crew after the safe was fork lifted into the dumpster I learned that it was made up of layers of metal and concrete. The center chamber was just a 1 foot cube. The weight was an obvious deterent.
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Re: Opening a Sentry safe
Old 04-20-2007, 08:00 PM   #20
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Re: Opening a Sentry safe

Quote:
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It's Gypsum. It's pressed in wet so it forms tightly between the inner liner and the case. Gypsum is found in different grades, some have a fibrous content.
Thats what it is. I read up on it...they either use a wet concrete or other moist rocklike material. When the fire starts, the material heats up and the water is released as steam. The steam melts the seams in the inside plastic case, letting steam into the inner box with your documents. Which is why computer media isnt recommended, just paper.

After that its sort of like that old Mr Science experiment where you put a paper cup full of water over a gas burner. Until all the water evaporates, the paper cup wont catch fire as all of the heat energy is transferred by the paper (which needs over 400 degrees to burn) to the water (which evaporates at 212).

So until the steam is boiled away from the unit, which in the case of mine is a little over an hour, the paper inside cant reach a high enough temp to catch fire.

In any case, that lining material isnt terribly skin friendly, dried out my hands and my knee where I was kneeling next to the box while working on it.
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