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Physical Security: Cracking a MEILINK safe with a lost combination is actually possible! #SafeCracker

Physical Security: Cracking a MEILINK safe with a lost combination is actually possible! #SafeCracker


A similar MEILINK fire safe

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”.

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

Easy, right?

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.



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19 Responses to “Physical Security: Cracking a MEILINK safe with a lost combination is actually possible! #SafeCracker”

  1. Joey Loman says:

    Good job John!
    I’d store that lock combo in Lastpass!

  2. Tim says:

    Do I have to know any of the correct #s. Its a safe that was opened when i got it from my grandmother before she passed, although i closed it thinking i had the correct combination!
    and “yadayadda”!

    • JohnMHoyt says:

      I imagine I could have gotten it if I didn’t have any of the numbers, but it sure made it easier to determine that the number was right, as I felt it.

      If you are in the Greenville or Upstate SC area, I would be happy to look at your safe. I’m not a “safe cracker” by any means, but I believe I could do it. A real professional charges something like 400-1000 dollars to “manipulate” a safe open.

      Oh yes, and you will be told by a pro that the Meilink is “impossible” to open due to it having plastic wheels, which is crazy, I felt it… =)

      Good luck!

  3. Mike K. says:

    Within 5 minutes of reading your site information, I got my safe OPEN! I’ve been trying to rember the combination of my locked safe for the past few years. It turns out I knew the correct numbers, they were just in the wrong sequence.


  4. bobbie says:

    I have the same safe.. i lost BOTH copies of my combo.. is there anyway this side of calling the company and paying the 99 dollars to get the thing open? I don’t want to harm it and if I call a locksmith that’s excately what they’ll do.. any ideas?

  5. pepe frometa says:

    Hi guys, I my mom (86 years), forgot the combination number, is there any way to open this safe with other number or what. Thx. Caracas – Venezuela

  6. Frank Miller says:

    Great info thanks…have a Meilink and knew the combo but the sequence had escaped me.

  7. John C says:

    thank you!! I inherited a safe from a family member and just got it to work for the first time! just knowing the proper sequence and a little concentration and i got it. pretty sure this safe is from the 50’s so its good and worn.

  8. ed sato says:

    had 3 numbers but couldn,t make them work til i read your instructions. thanks alot.

  9. gustavo says:

    Hi, I buy a meilink safe in a garage sale and they give me the serial number but not the combination… I need open it because is like a goal for me… can you help me? Thanks

  10. barbara mcmillan says:

    I inherited a meilink safe. The door is open and lock is in locked position and I have no idea how to even start to get the combination or to get a new combination? Please help. I am in Denver, Colorado and could take the safe to someone to help me.

  11. Raul Berrio says:

    Love this Forum , finally , I am back on track , my concern is ( need to restore Safe, any hint , contact to do it—-From central Jersey……Thanks

  12. JohnMHoyt says:

    For those of you wanting to change your combination, I cannot find the exact link where I found how to change our’s, but here’s one that might work:

  13. Jaakko Fagerlund says:

    You know, when dialing the combination, it is pointless to “clear” the wheel pack. Just dial 4 times to the first number, 3 times to the second number, 2 times to third number, once to open the lock and pull/turn the handle. And please, no “past the number x times and stop after the y round”. Just 4 times to the first, 3 times to the second etc.

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