Do you need to get in a locked safe? Are you wanting a new career as a safecracker? Boy do I have news for you – It’s easier than you might think.
My wifey has a MEILINK fire safe that holds important documents like birth certificates, and the millions of dollars in spare change we have (bah!) which is rarely accessed, and never locked. It’s just for fire purposes, not really security.
Wellllll, long story short, somehow this safe got locked. I blame the cats. But either way, it was locked, and Pamela McAbee Hoyt could not remember the combination. She thought she knew it, but wasn’t sure. She came up with 5 or 6 numbers that she was pretty sure it could be, but questioned the order.
She wrote them down as she tried them. She spent HOURS trying to get into the thing, all the while getting more frustrated. Then she tore the house apart (literally, not figuratively), searching for the card that had the combination on it. Newp, nowhere to be found.
I called a locksmith and safe technician friend of mine, he said he would have to drill this safe that has been in her family for 30-40 years, which would leave it in an inoperable state without costly repairs, so that was not appealing.
I then tried to make contact with a man who claims he could “manipulate” the safe (crack it), but no response.
We called the manufacturer who could actually give you the default factory combination (for a fee) if you provide the serial number. There was no serial number anywhere on it (There is one INSIDE, but what good is that?!?!).
Sooooo, I googled for “how to open a meilink safe” and came upon several links, the most interesting of which was a fella with a very similar safe that he has lost the combination to. And in that article, he has further links to “How Mechanical Safes Work”, and one that was far more interesting to me, being a geek, entitled, “Safecracking for the computer scientist” (updated link below).
I followed that last link and read it, not once, but a couple parts a few times. From the article, I knew that I could go buy myself a massive drill and a diamond bit, and be in that puppy, but I was really drawn to the “manipulation” part, and after I had absorbed what I could, I pulled this safe out of its cubby hole into the living room, where I had light and wasn’t cramped and started working the dial. This was around 2:00 or 2:15 this morning.
Luck was on my side! The first number was easy to determine, obviously, that wheel was where the fence was making contact first, unlike in the article. And when I looked at the attempted combinations that Pamela had tried, guess what? It was one of the ones she had guessed at, in fact, it was her 3rd guess.
I found the 2nd and 3rd numbers were also the numbers she knew them to be, and actually in the right order. But why was I able to open it when she could not?
She had used the correct pattern for that safe, which is:
- Turn the dial to the right several times to “clear it”, stop on “0”
- Turn the dial to the left (ccw) 3 times past the first number and stop on that number on the 4th go-round
- Turn the dial to the right 2 times past the second number and stop on that number on the 3rd time around
- Turn the dial to the left 1 time past the third number and stop on the 2nd time around
- Turn the dial to the right until the dial stops
- Twist the handle and pull the door open
Yeah, kinda. You see, when a safe ages, and especially if the people opening it for years have been kinda quick with the dial, it becomes worn and what may have been 55, could “drift” and be several numbers off. There are lots of articles on the web about that, and my locksmith friend had told me that from the start.
That is apparently the case with this safe… It has probably never been serviced and my wife admits to twirling that dial back in the day as fast as she could, so we’ll go with that.
Bottom line – the safe is open, and I have verified the combination works, multiple times now, and before it ever gets locked again, we’ll probably verify it a few more times.
Lessons learned include:
- Put the combination in more than one location
- Make sure someone else knows how to operate the safe besides you
- Verify the combination works before locking the door closed
- If you want to use it as a fire box, and not actually lock it, remove or disable the combination lock components
- If the combination has never been changed, knowing the serial number could help – write it down
- The internet is not just for porn. You can find some great articles that will help you become a safecracker =)
Need help getting in your own safe? Read those articles, you might surprise yourself.
Now if only I could remember the password to the file where I stored the safe combination.
It’s been 7 years since I posted this blog post, and I get emails, replies and phone calls all the time asking me to help. I’m sorry, I cannot help you with your 40 year old safe located in Indiana.
Your options are:
- Contact a reputable locksmith that specializes in safes and have them either try to manipulate it, or drill it.
- Contact Meilink, who is now owned by Fireking.com it would appear, and if you are lucky and the combination has not been changed, and you have the serial number – pay them a small fee and they will send you the original combination.
- Attempt to manipulate it, or drill it yourself.
Here’s an updated link to the one above “Safecracking for the computer scientist”
If you managed to get into your safe using any of these methods, feel free to respond. I don’t approve all responses – but I will do so for any relevant information you send me.