The most sophisticated security system can sometimes be defeated by stone-age technology: a brick thrown through a window. Using such a simple tool, a house-burglar can get in, grab your valuables, and get out again before help arrives, even if your home alarm system is connected to the local police station.
But for that kind of burglary to succeed, time is of the essence, and that’s what a secure safe provides: time that the thief can’t afford. That’s why it’s so important to make sure your real valuables can’t be found quickly or easily.
Remember, people who break into other people’s houses want to leave with money or portable valuables that can be turned into cash. And it’s a lot easier to walk out carrying small, easy-to-find and easy-to-sell items like jewelry and electronics than to break into a safe.
Safecracking isn’t a job for bricks, nor is it the sort of robbery technique that a would-be thief can decide to take up on the spur of the moment. It demands months, if not years, of study and practice as well as specialized equipment that’s expensive, bulky, and potentially dangerous.
And, in fact, safecracking is becoming a lost “art.” It reached its heyday during the half-century between the 1880s and the 1930s and then began a slow, inexorable decline as manufacturers developed ever more sophisticated methods to keep their safes impregnable, uncrackable, impervious . . . in short, safe! Their cores may include concrete, glass beads, aluminum cables, titanium, soft steel, and other materials to defend against drills that use such means as diamonds, oxyacetylene, and heated steel rods to get inside.
In fact, about the only way modern safecrackers – the few who are left – can break into a heavy safe is to take it with them and then try to break into it back at their “hideout.” Even then they risk destroying all its contents, which often happens when oxygen-based torches are used: the torches heat the steel walls of the safe to a temperature that destroys whatever is inside!
Small safes, too, have numerous protective measures built in, and there are many types and styles to choose from: floor safes, wall safes, hidden or disguised built-ins; specialty safes for records, documents, guns, and even simple, but strong, cash lock-boxes.
So think about what should you keep in your safe. Here are a few items that you might own that deserve the protection of a specialty safe. Cash. Jewelry. Negotiable instruments like stocks and bonds. Such important papers as deeds and contracts. Collections of stamps or coins. Silver and Gold. Fine china, art, and antiques. Guns and ammunition. Family heirlooms.
Whatever it is, whatever you own that deserves special protection, keep it safe – in a safe.
But remember: don’t let anyone know where your safe is or what you keep in it. In one of Agatha Christie’s mystery stories, a husband is so proud of his new, built-in wall safe that he shows several friends where it is. Word gets around, and sure enough, one evening when he and his wife are at church, their house is burgled, the safe cracked open, and everything taken.
Fortunately, his wife has foreseen this likely outcome. Instead of putting her mother’s heirloom pearls in the safe each evening as her husband insisted, she has filled her jewelry box with buttons for him to lock up at night. The pearls? They’re rolled up in a pair of stockings in the second drawer of her dressing table!