What To Do When You Are Locked Out of Your Safe?

opening safe
Publish at Oct 21, 2021 By: Dustin Fernandez
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There is nothing more aggravating than getting locked out by your security. This is twice as worse when it is your safe you are locked out of. You were responsible and secured your valuables so that they would be safe, but now you cannot get to them! Believe us when we say we understand how annoying this situation is, and we hope this article helps you reentering your safe.

Why Won’t Your Safe Unlock?

Many methods can be used to open a locked safe. These methods range from easy ones where you can easily handle them to much better left to the professionals. However, the first question you need to ask yourself is why you are locked out. The answer to this question will determine your course of action and the options available to you.

Several types of issues can cause you to be unable to unlock your safe. The lock on your safe could be broken. If you have an electronic keypad to enter your code, you could have a dead battery. If a keyed safe, your key could be broken or damaged, and of course, you could have lost your key or forgotten your combination.

Once you determine your issue, the next step is determining what type of safe you are dealing with.

Safe Types

There are many, many different types of safes like locks and keys, and knowing what kind of safe you have is very important when you are locked out. Some safes are made not to secure your valuables but to protect them in case of a fire. These safes do well in keeping your things from harm, but not from theft. Understandably, this means that a fire safe is much easier to crack than a high-quality safe such as a Winchester.

When determining your safe type, the first thing you should look for is the brand. This is often visible on the front of the safe on the logo. If your safe doesn’t have a logo or visual brand, try looking under, on the sides, and the back of the safe. If you still don’t see a brand and know nothing about the type of safe you have, you should call a professional locksmith. They will identify your safe and find the best way to open it.

A final note when identifying your safe, make sure you are dealing with a safe. Not all boxes that lock are considered safes. You may have a lockbox that is opened differently than a safe. Again if you are not sure what type of secured box you are dealing with, reach out to a locksmith, and they will help you.

Special Considerations

After you determine the safe you are dealing with, you should know about some special considerations for sure safes. This section will cover the most common things to look out for. If you are experiencing a different issue or have another brand than those listed, please consult the documentation that came with your safe or call a locksmith.

Sentry Safes

Sentry Safes logo

A Sentry safe is considered an essential safety and is not very secure. This safe, while it offers minimal security, is the easiest to crack for obvious reasons. It rarely will require a destructive method to gain access. The first methods covered in the next section should work to unlock this safe.

Winchester Safes

Winchester Safes logo

A Winchester safe sits on the opposite side of the spectrum. This safe is very secure and is not easily cracked. The Winchester company does have a method where you can request your combination from them. If this doesn’t work, then you will need a locksmith. An amateur cannot crack this safe.

Cannon Safes

Cannon Safes logo

A Cannon safe has a security feature that is similar to your favorite websites. If you enter the wrong code multiple times, you will be locked out for five minutes. This helps prevent thieves from attempting to override the system by rapidly imputing different combinations. During this lock-out time, your safe cannot be opened. Once the time has passed, you can try imputing the combination again.

Methods To Open Safes

There are four primary methods to crack a safe. We will cover them in order of difficulty as well as security. Some of these methods will leave your safe compromised where you can no longer use it. However, in cases of emergency or urgency, they may be necessary. The first two methods are ones you can try yourself. The second two should only be used by professionals due to safety and security issues.

Battery Change

This isn’t technically a method, but it is essential to mention. If your batteries have died in your electronic safe, the only way to fix this is to change your batteries, so always check this first. If you have a Sentry safe, you can find a list of different ways to replace the batteries on their website. If you have a higher-quality safe, they often have a removable battery compartment. If your batteries are intact and you are still locked out, please see the following methods below.

Safe Bouncing

The first method you can try is safe bouncing. This method will work similarly to a bump key in that you are aiming to get the internal components to work together just long enough to release the lock. This method will not work on high-quality safes as they have protections installed to resist bouncing. This method works best on lower-quality safes that are less secure such as Sentry or fire safes.

To try this method, strike the top of your safe with a gentle hit while turning the handle. If this doesn’t work the first time, repeat. If this method works, you may want to invest in a higher-quality safe as yours is not very secure. If it doesn’t work, your safe is of better quality, and you will need to try a different method.

Overriding the Lock

If your safe has an electronic keypad, then this option may work for you. This method will not work with traditional safes with dials or keys. Many safes with electronic codes have processes where the code can be reset. This is typically how a hotel safe works to gain access to it if necessary.

The safe may have a factory code that triggers a code reset. This code is often a series of zeroes of different amounts depending on the safe. Check your manual or reach out to your manufacturer to see if this will work with your safe, but keep in mind this solution will not work if your battery has died. You will first need to replace the battery and then try overriding the lock.

Lock Manipulation

This method is the most common depiction of safe cracking that you see in movies and TV. The safecracker will use a stethoscope or other listening tool while concentrating intently for when the lock clicks until they have deciphered the entire combination, and the safe magically opens with great fanfare!

This, in reality, takes extensive training to master and is a method that a locksmith might use when you call them. This method will only work with manual dial safes. It will not work with digital codes as there is nothing to listen for to determine the code. It also may be necessary for the locksmith to drill holes in your safe to allow access for tools in safecracking. These holes, in most cases, do not compromise the security of your safe as it is still lockable and doesn’t grant automatic entry.

Rough Entry

The last method is hazardous and should only ever be done by a professional locksmith. Attempting this method as an amateur can potentially cause serious injury if you lose control of the tools. A rough entry is any entry that causes the safe so much damage that it will not be secure to use afterward.

These methods may be necessary for immediate entry, emergencies, or when the safe is damaged, it won’t open another way. Again do not try this on your own. It is very dangerous and requires extensive expertise and training.

At ASAP Locksmith, your safety and security are our topmost priority. Would you please call us if you need our help in regaining entry to your safe? We are here to assist!

Article written by: Dustin Fernandez
I am Dustin Fernandez, and I'm the owner of ASAP Locksmith in Dallas. My company is a family business, and we provide locksmith services to residential, commercial, and automotive customers. I've been in the locksmith industry since 1995 when I was just 20 years old. I started by working for another locksmith company before eventually starting my own. Over time, my father joined me as a partner in this venture, which made him proud to help his son succeed at something he loved doing!