Last month our master locksmith performed many jobs but one that sticks out was a late night job at an AT&T store in Houston. It was Friday night, after hours, and the manager had discovered he could not open the commercial safe. This was bad news, since he couldn’t leave the store until it was open. He called our locksmith and 35 minutes later the safe was open, without damage, and the manager could lock up the store without worrying. Everyone went home happy!
What can go wrong with a commercial safe?
In general, commercial safe owners need their safes opened by a professional locksmith for two main reasons. One, they’ve forgotten or lost the key code combination. Perhaps the code was never written down. Or maybe the code was written down, the paper it was written on disappeared. None of these scenarios is a good one. For this reason we always recommend commercial and residential safe owners keep their keycode combinations in a safe place, along with their other passcodes. This way they won’t lose them.
The second main reason you might need a locksmith to open a safe is that the keycode no longer works. How could the code stop working? First, the battery of the digital lock will fail. (If you hear beeping on your digital combo lock, change the battery right away! That sound indicates the battery is low!) Second, the code might still work but the lock doesn’t open; the lock has likely broken over a long period of constant use.
Very cheap security safes can be broken into in under five minutes with tools found in your home garage. As a business owner, it’s wiser to invest in a high security safe. But if you’ve bought a cheap safe, you’re taking a risk with the items you want to protect. Cheaper safes use thinner panneling that can be pulled back with force. For example, you can pry open the door of a safe using a chisel, a hammer, and a crowbar. The thief will first insert the chisel in between the safe’s door and frame, then hammer in the tip to split the opening between the frame and the door. Next, he can insert the head of the crow bar into the opening made by the chisel. Once enough force is applied, the bolts locking the door to the frame will split off, or the door itself will break, or the hardware on the frame will split off. There are many fail-points on cheap safes.
A good locksmith will always troubleshoot the safe by trying to open it without causing any damage. In this case, our locksmith was able to open the commercial case by picking the lock, leaving the mechanism unharmed. In some cases the safe has to be drilled, which will ruin the lock. Make sure you check with your locksmith whether this is absolutely necessary before he or she begins. Otherwise, once the drill penetrates the locking mechanism, there’s no going back!
How to choose the right commercial safe for your business?
There are a few key points to consider when choosing the right safe for your business. These fall into the following categories: fire protection, burglary protection, size, and location.
First, decide if you want a safe that will protect against fire damage, robbery, or both. Fire damage ratings are based on how long the safe will keep the inside temperature below 350 degrees during a fire. Most fire inspectors recommend at least 1 hour. So if your business is at higher risk of fire exposure, choose a safe with a high fire rating.
Burglary protection for safes is measured by Underwriter Laboratories, an independent consumer protection agency that rates safes and many other products. Their rating system is based on how long it takes to breaks into a safe. The higher the rating, the longer it takes to break in. These ratings are also tied to the value of the items kept in the safe. So it’s highly recommended that you consult with an Alamo Key & Lock professional to decide what rating of security safe you should buy for your business.
The last consideration is the size of the safe you need and where you’re going to put the safe in your business. The internal comparment size of the size is measured in height, width, and depth, so make sure that everything you need to fit inside the safe will do so — a good rule of thumb is to purchase a safe 3 times the size you think you’ll need. However, if you have only a small amount of space in your business’s property to house the safe, you’ll have to limit the purchase accordingly.
Alamo Key & Lock services all kinds of security safe needs. If you’re buying a new safe or needing to get inside an old locked one, our technicians have you covered. Call 713-688-3887 today for a free security consultation!