Friday, November 4, 2011

Where should I place my safe to provide the most resistance to forced entry?

I answered this question on a forum recently and thought I'd repost it here, so that others might benefit.

"A question for the expert, I'm about to move around my safe in the garage. Where is the best place to put it? I understand that big safes (mine is a Ft Knox) are actually more vulnerable at the sides. Would putting it in the corner at a 45 degree angle be the best option?"

Yes, unless your safe is a UL TL-rated unit that is also designated "X6", the door has the most resistance to drilling, burning, grinding and other methods of forced entry by common hand and power tools used in burglary attempts. TL-15 and above also feature manipulation resistant mechanical combination locks or high quality electro-mechanical locks. Often these will also include a redundant feature for the utmost in reliability.

An X6 designation simply means that all six sides have the same rating and resistance to forced entry by the methods and tools described in the UL standards for testing.

For example:
TL-15 = Resistant to tool attacks for a net working time of fifteen minutes.

TRTL-30 = Resistant to tool and torch attacks for a net working time of thirty minutes.

TXTL-60 = Resistance to tool, torch and explosives attacks for a net working time of sixty minutes.

There is no UL rating (so far) for resistance to ballistic attacks, like you may have seen in the movie: Thunderbolt and Lightfoot starring Jeff Bridges and Clint Eastwood as a heavily-armed safecracker.

OTOH: safes can be built to higher standards but only test for a specific and lower level of UL certification. The Modul-X modular safes made in the USA by City Safe in New Jersey are tested for TL-30, but as you can see from the following YouTube video, they can withstand much more that what the UL tests for TL-30 throw at it.

City Safe MODUL-X safe panels are attacked by ballistic and explosives specialists from the Russian military

With regard to the best position to place it in, with a big heavy, well-made safe, the only sides you have to worry about is the top, left side, right side and the front/door. If I were placing your safe, I'd put one side against a solid wall, bolt the safe down and then move something else that is very heavy (like a metal cabinet, refrigerator or freezer) next to the other side. This will make it more difficult unless they move something, but it may also force them to waste time and tools attacking the front. By the time they learn that is easier to attack the sides, they will have to move whatever is in the way to start again. Since a large number of modern safes have the bolt of the lock facing down, an attack from the top is less likely to produce the desired result for the would-be burglars.

 E-mail Ken

© 2011 by Ken Doyle
Licensed Professional Safecracker
ADVANCED Safe & Vault
San Francisco Bay Area
+1 (415) 519-3401