Most importantly let’s not ask the question how I came across this little piece of entertaining trivia, but you can thank me just the same. I would also recommend not clicking any of the links in this post as you may end up on a government watch list as I’m sure I am now. Okay now on to the good stuff!
We’ve all seen scenes in movies with the safecracker sweating and drilling into a safe while someone else keeps an eye out, or them attaching some computer to an electronic lock to unlock it in seconds. Apparently there is a company that sells a product to do just that, but it is so expensive you’d have to have a lot of electronic locks to open with lots of valuable things inside to make it worth the purpose but governments and locksmiths are some of their customers.
Have you ever thought what you would do if you forgot your safe combination and couldn’t open it?
Fortunately locksmiths know just how to open your safe, but it takes a considerable amount of time (if you want the safe to still work when she’s done opening it) and some data analysis. Okay maybe not analysis as much as graphing and recognizing the pattern in the graph that indicates a successful code from the lock, but still I bet you never thought graphing and safecracking would ever go hand in hand. Below is an excerpt from the site where I came across this information and no I did not forget the combination to my safe.
Graphing the Results
Knowing the contact area and number of wheels, the safecracker resets the lock by turning several times to the right. Then parking the wheels at zero, the safecracker turns the dial slowly to the left. The safecracker listens for the tell-tale clicks that indicate the position of the left and right sides of the contact area. Making note of this on a graph, the safecracker repeats this step, only this time parking the wheels three numbers to the left of zero. Each time the process is started from a different position, the contact area will vary slightly. The safe cracker repeats this process in intervals of three until all the positions on the dial have been graphed. You don't see that in the movies!The final graph representing the left and right contact points for all the positions will converge on itself at several points. These points of convergence should match the number of wheels that were determined by parking the wheels. They will also represent a range of numbers that hold the combination.
Though the graph will reveal where the wheels are in the proper position, it won't reveal in what order the wheels are to be lined up. The safecracker must now dial the numbers, in all possible variations, until the safe opens. A three-number combination could have six possible variations. Let's say the three numbers the safecracker must use are 4, 37 and 61. Therefore, the six possible combinations are:4-37-614-61-3737-4-6137-61-461-4-3761-37-4By trying all these variations the safe will eventually open.Lock manipulation is used more by locksmiths than safecrackers because of the skill and time needed to pull it off.
Turns out nefarious safecrackers use much less sophisticated methods usually, like stealing the entire safe and taking it apart later, finding your combination in the room your safe is in, or using the combination the safe shipped with since you never reset it. Beyond that they deploy the blunt force methods of drilling, torching, or exploding. Advice for today, make sure you don’t write your combination down and tape it to your safe, and always reset the combination the safe came with.