Personal Account of Safe-Cracking "Penetration Party."


20 Responses to “Personal Account of Safe-Cracking "Penetration Party."”

  1. MadJeweler says:

    Ok, so how do those of us who own jewelry shops (I don’t yet, but I’m thinking about it) get together and come up with better tech to stop these guys (or those they teach) from stealing all our inventory?

    Yes, I’m aware that most of the crime against perceived high-value retail stores involves either smash-and-grab or armed robbery during business hours, but it would be nice to feel that a safe is actually somewhat “safe”.

  2. Roy Trumbull says:

    One of the stories on my short list of favorites by O.Henry was about the safe cracker Jimmy Valentine.

  3. Scuba SM says:

    I was quite happy when I picked the lock on my desk in my cubicle. One set of drawers had been locked by the previous occupant, and I had no key. So, I fiddled with a T-pin and a paperclip while reading some rather dry technical material.

  4. Anonymous says:

    It would be foolish to think you can ever design an absolutely secure safe. Don’t waste your time or money. Buy a good safe and an insurance policy and get on with your life.


  5. Anonymous says:

    the safe should have an internal communications device that’s activated by the sound or vibration of drilling. one more thing to disable. you know, a computer inside instead of broken glass activated tumblers, that’s so 18th century.

  6. travelina says:

    Reminds me of Richard Feynman at Los Alamos teaching himself to crack safes to relieve boredom, and his spectacular success in cracking three safes containing US nuclear secrets:

  7. BastardNamban says:

    @ Takuan,

    Mad props for mentioning Toool. It seems I’m not the only one here on BB fond of safecracking.

    Best I ever did was an old Yale lock. Not much at all for anyone of skill, but at least I can say I’ve done it.

    My real challenge is, after reading the greatest treatise on mechanical locks ( copy, I’m trying to design something that even the guys at Toool can’t crack!

    I highly recommend that link to anyone deeply interested in the history of mechanical & safe locks- it’s long been out of print & copyright, so you can download the whole thing (all 922 pages, with tons of pictures and explanations!) for free. Xeni, please don’t punish me for linking that, it’s relevant & free.

  8. bjacques says:

    Read this while listening to the “Bernie Lee” track from Tricky’s “Product of the Environment,” monologues from retired London East End gangsters, backed with a trip-hop beat.

    (I love nitro. Nitro’s easy.”

    I know some of the guys and went to one of their early meetings years ago. Sadly, I could barely pick my nose.

    Morecently they collaborated with some of the founders of heroic Dutch ISP to expose the electronic voting machines then in use for the hacktastic pieces of crap they were. It was pretty funny to watch. The Dutch government went back to the paper and pencil system, which works just fine.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Just a note to point out that The Escape Artist is one of the few films to portray safecracking by manipulation with any accuracy.

  10. Xeni Jardin says:

    Cut time to “penetration party” dirty jokes in the comment thread… and… threee…. twoooo….

  11. dainel says:

    How many of the lurkers in a meet like this is actually the police getting your photos on file? :)

    Those guys who pick the safe without leaving any mark is actually a bigger problem. When you try to make an insurance claim, the adjusters will be happier to see some signs of break-in. Of course, if you lose the combo and your lock smith drills a hole and destroys the safe, you might not be so happy.

    Our safe is just a big steel box, just under 1m on each side, made of welded together 5mm steel plates, bolted to the floor. There’s a little box made of the same steel plates attached to the door, with the opening at the bottom. We just use a normal lock there. The little box prevents anyone cutting the lock, or inserting a crowbar to break the lock.

    There’s no complicated locking mechanism. When someone holding one of the keys resigns, we buy another lock. Since they are so cheap to make, there are a few of these in the office. Some are empty, if anyone needs to use them, they can use their own lock. The biggest ones have two locks. Doubles the time you need to pick the locks, and both key holders must be present to open the door. The safety of this thing depends on the lock used, and since we just use regular locks (not extremely expensive or cheap ones) I imagine it’s not very secure. Nevertheless, despite a few burglaries, none of this were every broken in to. One of them has a few scratches in the paint, but they didn’t even dent the steel plate.

  12. Takuan says:

    and I was sooo happy to finally pick that Abus padlock…

  13. basstoelpel says:

    Hehe, Abus is already way out of my league. This is so cool in so many ways! Especially since the guy in the photo really looks like the nerd-character in heist-flicks.

    PS: Sorry Xeni, but I’ll leave the jokes regarding the title to others, if you don’t mind.

  14. Antinous / Moderator says:

    Man, tupperware parties have never seemed so boring. I never get invited to the good things.

  15. nanuq says:

    Back when I worked in the prison system, the medical unit had a wall safe where the important meds were kept. Just for the hell of it during a lunch hour, I actually “borrowed” a stethoscope once and tried to listen for the tumblers clicking in the safe the way they do in the movies. Didn’t work. I should have asked for lessons from one of the inmates.

  16. Clumpy says:

    Actually, Xeni, I think your comment may have inoculated this thread against morons making obvious jokes. Can you do that from now on?

    I love it when I can hear a real expert and enthusiast talk about something like this in real depth. Movies simplify these sorts of things. I’ve been on Wikipedia for awhile now reading about relockers and safe autodialing machines.

  17. Xopher says:

    OK, by Xeni’s request:

    “I’ve been to a penetration party before, but the only SAFES were the condoms they passed out!”

    *rim shot* (hehheh he said rim)

    “Thank you very much, I’m here all week, try the tortellini in mushroom/asiago cream sauce, it’s to die for.”

  18. zikman says:

    I bet a robot could do it a lot quicker

  19. sluggo says:

    I helped a pal move an old safe to his basement.* When he finally got around to cleaning it up and painting it, he found a rather large bottle of tear gas integrated into the back of the door – no doubt a quick and painful lesson for those who might try drilling it out.

    As the safe is 40 years old or so, I don’t know how ‘good’ it is, but I’m happy to say I don’t know.

    * Yeah. Don’t do this. Took four strong guys (and me) and was the heaviest thing I’ve ever moved down stairs, and I’ve moved Ampeg combo amps.

  20. Takuan says:

    obligatory link

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