The last post talked about using an Auto Dialer, one method of opening locked safes or gun safes without drilling any holes. More often drilling is required. There are right ways and wrong ways to drill safes, however, so it is important to hire the right people for this work.
Very often, especially in case of lock failure or lost combo, safes can be drilled in a way that leaves no visible hole. The photo shows a great way to do this on what happens to be a Liberty gun safe. The safe tech removes the dial or keypad, along with the dial ring/mounting plate. The well-equipped technician will have a drill rig similar to the one shown. It mounts to the front of the safe, screwing into the same holes used for mounting the lock. The drill rig holds the drill solidly in place and helps control it so that drilling can be done with extreme precision.
The tech’s experience and knowledge tell him what is wrong with the lock and how the lock is situated inside the safe. Accurate measuring, or use of special drilling templates, allows him to drill a hole to hit one of a number of specific parts of the lock. Often that means drilling right into the lock body which is tightly packed with lots of parts. This also needs to be done without damaging anything inside the lock.
Before getting to the lock body it is necessary to drill though the safe’s outside steel; it might be thin or it might be up to 1 ¾” thick. If it is a composite type safe there is insulation to go through. There is also normally some kind of hard-plate steel to go through. Special drill bits are required to penetrate most hard-plate. If done right, one small hole is usually required to unlock the safe. Repairs then need to be made, which involve filling the hole with a hardened tapered pins. That restores the safe to its original level of security. The lock may or may not need to be replaced. When the repairs are finished and the dial is re-installed the safe is as good as before, and no one can tell it was drilled.
Last month we were called to open a locked vault. Someone else had already been there and put four holes into the front of it, without getting it open. The proper technique would have had the unit open with no visible hole. So remember, if the lock on your safe or gun safe ever fails, make sure to call skilled safe professionals first. In West Michigan or Central Michigan that would definitely be Hoogerhyde Safe.
Almost weekly older women come to our store looking to buy a safe for jewelry. They usually want something about two to three feet tall with fire protection and a reasonable amount of burglary resistance. Depending on the value of their jewelry, where the safe will be located and how much they are willing to spend there are a number of alternatives. People expect trade-offs between cost, weight, security level, etc. Two things they frequently have not factored in, however, are convenience and future practicality.
When I show them what they asked for they are typically happy with one vault or another. But then we have a discussion about convenience now and the future. With that three foot high safe they would normally be down on hands and knees to open it and find what they want from inside. I remind them that their back and knees are probably getting a little worse every year. “Think how hard it might be to use this safe in five or ten years.”
I then suggest a Fort Knox gun safe in size 6026 — with four shelves rather than a gun interior. This gives them a small footprint that will fit in many closets, more capacity and the ability to use the safe standing up. I will jokingly bring up that in the future they could still use this safe even if they use a walker. Funny or not, they understand this is actually a legitimate consideration. And while most safes are quite dark inside, getting the safe in Fort Knox’s Rimrock color with a beige interior (pictured) makes the interior light enough for them to find what they want. Plus, they are getting a vault with good fire rating and great burglary deterrence.
These ladies very often come in with their husband, son, daughter or girl-friends. They don’t come in looking for a gun safe, but their conversations turn to “I never thought of getting a tall skinny safe”, “what a great idea” and “that makes so much sense”. They also love the idea of an easy-to-use, dependable electronic lock. It always feels satisfying to make someone really happy with their purchase.
A safe that is inconvenient to use just won’t serve you well, especially in the future. Consider whether the vault you buy now will still be the right one in five or ten years.
The medical marijuana industry is here and gaining acceptance. Things are still evolving for growers and dispensaries, which can make the business side of it difficult. From what we see some of those issues are:
- Cannabis dispensaries and growers are much more likely to suffer break-ins than traditional businesses. The product involved, and the perception that huge amounts of cash are involved, make dispensaries tempting targets.
- Insurance may be difficult to obtain which opens up business owners to out-of-pocket losses.
- Start-up loans are extremely hard to get, so more out-of-pocket money is required to open a business.
- Banking difficulties may require that more cash be kept on-site.
- Regulations are likely to change at the local, state and federal levels. What you spend today to comply with regulations might be wasted money by next year.
In one way or another, the following products will help with physical security issues: Door locks & hardware, safes & vault doors, camera systems, alarm & monitoring systems. Hoogerhyde deals with the first two of these.
Locks: A dispensary’s building should have high security locks. Avoid using residential quality locks that you buy at box stores. Commercial grade locks are much stronger so they will slow down would-be burglars. Restricted key systems will prevent employees from having duplicate keys made without authorization. Consider up-grading to keyless locks to eliminate keys altogether.
Safes: Most cannabis suppliers for whom we have provided safes have chosen to save money by purchasing less security than we would recommend. This is usually because cash is in short supply when starting the business without bank loans. Naturally, safes are important for protecting inventory and cash. We always have a selection of used high security safes in stock to help save money.
If a business does not have good insurance a break-in could cause a major financial loss. Top notch physical security then becomes especially important, to minimize potential loss. Besides that, a vault with a high security rating may be a requirement to be insured. One of our dispensary clients who purchased what we consider to be an appropriate safe, was told by his insurance company that a TL-15 rated safe was needed to obtain coverage.
If the federal government eventually relaxes marijuana laws, it may require suppliers to comply with the same D.E.A. requirements that it dictates when dealing with other controlled substances. In that case the dispensary that initially bought a cheap safe would need to spend money again to buy a TL-15.
Hoogerhyde Safe can help protect your medical marijuana business. Out store is in Grand Rapids but we deliver to anywhere in Michigan. We have a big assortment of new and used safes, from small to huge — and vault doors. We also have the knowledge to answer your questions. In addition, we can increase your building’s security by installing high quality locks and key systems.
If you need to put your safe or gun safe in the garage here are the steps you should take:
- Invest in a heavier, higher quality vault, preferably TL-rated like American Security’s RF series gun safe.
- Conceal the safe the best you can. Build a cabinet around it or drape a blanket or something over it. American Security sells what they call a “Safe Cloak” for gun safes which is a fabric cover that makes your safe look like a cheap storage cabinet. It attaches to you gun safe with a magnet across the top and hangs down to ground level. If possible, put the safe in a back room or around a corner.
- Don’t allow service people or delivery personnel to go through your garage.
- Keep your garage door locked at all times to keep people out.
- Increase the perceived risk to a burglar — put up a sign stating that the house and garage are monitored. It helps to install a very conspicuous camera, even if it is fake.
- Anchor your safe to the concrete floor using high grade anchor bolts. Most fire safes are light enough to be picked up. If you don’t have the right tools or skills, hire someone who does.
- Don’t keep pry tools, sledge hammers, torches, etc. in the same area – keep them locked up in the house.
To avoid problems from cold and fluctuating temperatures in northern states:
- Use a dehumidifier rod (heat bar) inside the safe to keep temps as stable as possible.
- There can be a problem in those first warm humid days of spring when the ground is still very cold. The cold floor will keep pulling warmth from the safe causing condensation, making the safe sweat, which encourages rust. Antique safes are especially prone to rust. It is best, therefore, to have a small amount of contact with the floor. Thin squares of wood or plastic at the corners will minimize the problem. We usually use pieces of the plastic shims used to install windows and doors. Important Note: Don’t raise the safe too far off the ground; the bigger the gap there is between the floor and the safe, the easier it is for someone to move the unit. A big gap makes anchoring less effective too.
- Battery life in electronic locks will be shorter in cold situations. I would guess that electronic locks themselves would have shorter lives, but that is just speculation. Dial locks are less affected by cold.
Keeping your gun safe in the garage is less than ideal. Minimize risk by taking proper precautions.
Customers regularly ask if putting their safe in a garage or pole building, as opposed to inside the house, creates any potential problems.
A safe or gun safe in the garage is typically not as secure, for the following reasons:
- Depending on placement, it might be that every time you open the garage door the safe is visible to whoever is driving or walking past the home.
- It is likely to be seen by delivery or service people like UPS, FedEx, the gardener, maintenance personnel, etc., people who have legitimate reasons to go into the garage.
- A safe may be seen by neighborhood kids who enter the garage looking to steal bicycles, beer, etc.
- Everyone has heard stories of the ATM or safe that was stolen when burglars put a chain around it and dragged it off. In a garage or pole building, burglars could open the overhead door and back a truck right in so they could easily do the chain trick.
- Many older safes are on wheels which allows someone to just roll them outside.
- With a safe or gun safe in the garage, you could even be in the house watching TV or sleeping while someone is working to open it with quiet tools like torches.
- Many garages are loaded with tools that burglars would find useful in opening your safe.
Aside from security issues, temperature variations in northern states can cause problems for safes in garages. Rust and lock problems are not uncommon.
The next post will cover how to protect your safe or gun safe from these issues.