Monday, April 3, 2017


More F.A.Q.s and answers will be added regularly.

Q: When I am talking to Ken (The Safecracker) on the phone, he asks me what the make and model of my safe is. How do I answer that question if there's no name or model info anywhere on the outside of the safe?
A: Identification of a particular safe can be difficult, even for an expert, but the more info you gather, the better. Type of lock, type of handle, the look of the hinges or caster/wheels, any labels found, and general appearance (including paint color) can give very good clues as to the original maker. When all else fails or even at the beginning of a phone conversation with a safe owner, I ask for photos of the safe. An overall photo of the safe, as well as close-up photos of any pertinent details that are clear, focused and well-exposed will usually give me all the info I need to identify your safe. A few more questions about the problem you are experiencing, your location and how soon you need service is usually all I need to give you an accurate quote.

Q: How do I tell what type and brand of lock is on my safe?
A: The first thing I need to know is whether it's a mechanical (dial-type) or electronic (push-button) lock. Again, a photo is worth a thousand words and maybe some frustration.

Q: Will your quote include any necessary repairs?
A: If I have to open a safe that has a mechanical dial for a lost combination, often no repairs will be necessary. If there's a malfunction with the lock or boltwork mechanism, the problem may not be evident until after the door has been opened and an inspection of the door interior can be made., An accurate quote for repairs will be made after that inspection is completed. I often quote more complicated openings of safes, ATMs and vault doors as "Open-only" and quote the repairs, later.

Q: If my safe is locked and I think I know part of the combination, does that make it easier to open it by manipulation?
A: Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't. If a safe hasn't been used for awhile, memory of the numbers can get fuzzy. When I spend time on numbers that are mis-remembered, it can actually add time to my manipulation efforts. On the other hand, sometimes the numbers can be accurate, but out of order or the user doesn't remember the proper sequence or dialing procedure. When I know the lock brand and type (determined by a couple of questions) I can usually supply the correct sequence and instructions to get your safe open, providing that the numbers are correct and there are no internal malfunctions.

ADVANCED Safe & Vault
San Francisco, CA
1 (415) 519-3401
Email Ken

Copyright 2017 by Ken Doyle - The Safecracker - All rights reserved


"I found your company through a Google listing, so I was in a sense “batting blind.”  It’s rare to hit a home run batting blind, but that’s what happened when I stumbled upon you and you solved my problem on the phone.  And with such expert product knowledge, kindness, good humor, and generosity of spirit too.   You immediately diagnosed the problem and walked  me through the  solution.  Our trusty safe is  functioning again.  And you didn’t charge me a penny!

We are a Catholic Shrine, a place where people variously broken by the challenges of modern life come to find a little peace and renew their sense of hope.  I had my own hope in the essential goodness of others renewed through my encounter with you – an especially meaningful gift in this season of Lent.  A thousand thanks."

S. Matthew - San Francisco, CA (via AS&V website and Google)

"I want to thank you for your assistance yesterday with my safe in Mill Valley, Ca. As you know my safe was having issues with its electrical system and the safe's dead bolts would not release. I had contacted two other safe companies that tried to help me with many suggestions but none that helped me to cure the problem. I was referred to you as a master safe/ vault professional. After corresponding with you via text and then sending you pictures of my safe, you then followed up with a phone call. You assisted me through many items to determine the problem. Once determining the likely problem you described in detail the appropriate actions for me to take to resolve it.
Thank goodness your keen knowledge and expertise worked and I was able to access the safe which had my important needed passports to travel this week. I can't tell you how much I appreciate your prompt response to my problem and how easy you made it for me to resolve the issue. You are my savior in this situation! I will recommend Advanced Safe & Vault to all my contacts with a with 5 stars rating. Thank you again for your prompt and professional service."
Dirk I. - Mill Valley, CA (via AS&V website)

"Ken was very helpful and willing to answer some safe questions on the phone. This is unusual and much appreciated. This is the person I would hire if I have safe failure."
Thomas N. (via Google) 

"True to the words on his website, Ken helped me open my safe over the phone and didn't charge me a dime.
When I moved my safe to a new house and the safe's mechanical lock got moved despite me having it taped for years, as I would only use the key to open it.  I knew the combination as I had it written down but couldn't figure it out to get the lock open. Ken walked me through it and now I'm back to normal.  Ken is the best and I highly recommend him. Don't expect him to always be free, though!"
Dan B. San Rafael, CA (via Yelp)

"Been locked out? I know who to call and recommend. Ken Doyle is not only expert, he's committed to constant improvement and always upgrading his knowledge and skills. He'll get you loose of the jam you find yourself in - promptly, safely and with good humor."
Michael N., San Francisco, CA (via Linkedin)

"As a safe technician and locksmith myself, I've taken safe classes from Ken. Ken is a very professional and knowledgeable safe technician. Ken is considered an industry expert and has written numerous articles. He also acts as a consultant for other safe men."
G. Perry, Ridgecrest, CA (via Linkedin)

"I have known Ken since 2002 on a professional basis. I have hired Ken to open safes and do service work for specific projects for me in the SF Bay Area. Ken is a pro who knows his business and made large investments in training and equipment so he is able to provide the very best in service to his customers. Ken is known world wide as a professional safe expert and is looked up to by is colleagues and fellow safe professionals.
Fred C., San Mateo, CA (via Linkedin)

"Ken is an expert in his field and a consummate professional. His extensive knowledge of safes and the locks that go on them make him an excellent choice for all facets of safe work and repair."
Tasha B., Kaba-Mas-La Gard (via Linkedin)

"Ken Doyle is a leader and mentor to many in the safe industry. He is looked up to by a broad peer group for not only his skills but his willingness to share his knowledge with others. Ken takes his profession seriously and yet has a wonderful, quirky, sense of humor, as well. I can honestly say that in an industry that is predominantly male, Ken has treated me like an equal and is willing to help me when I need help, and willing to introduce me to others that may be of help. Having Ken as a friend and business associate is a great thing, because he truly is a professional of amazing skill and expertise. I highly recommend Ken for all of his skills, but particularly safe opening and servicing."
Hope T., Owner, Fradon Lock Co, Syracuse, NY (via AS&V Website)

"Ken Doyle is well known and respected in the Safe and Vault Industry. I have had the pleasure of having Ken help me with with my own safe lock needs as I specialize only in automotive locksmithing and firmly believe that a man must know his limitations. I recommend Ken Doyle without reservation."  -  Jim P. Owner, Old Capitol Lock Services, Benicia, CA (via Linkedin)

"Ken at Advanced Safe & Vault has been a working partner for the past 20 years. He has a strong work history, and is very knowledgeable in all aspects of safe and vault mechanics. High security and damage-free openings are what he is best at and I would not hesitate to work with him again on future projects, nor would I hesitate to give him a high recommendation to any of his future clients."
Mike O., Lone Star Safe & Vault, Dallas, TX  (via Linkedin)

"I've used Ken to service many of my clients safe opening and service needs, as well as moving large safes from time to time. He knows his job, is honest and detail oriented ."
Steve H., former owner, All City Locksmiths, San Francisco, CA (via AS&V Website)

"Amazing products. Thanks for making a great scope light.  Still in use after many years in service.
Advanced Safe offers the best in service and quality."
David K., Safe Technician, Formerly of SSF, CA (via Google)

"Ken is a very personable expert in the field of safes and lock. I have tapped Ken's knowledge over the years when I or a member of my unit was serving a narcotics or homicide search warrant and a safe was involved. Ken is efficient and trustworthy. Ken was also instrumental as a mentor when I opened a small locksmith business. He has also responded and opened several different types of safes for me over the years. He stays up to date with all of the new technology and innovations of the industry."
Mike S., Lieutenant-Inspector, San Francisco Police Dept., Retired (via Linkedin)

"I work with Ken a lot. This time he opened an ATM hours faster than others that my CSM has sent. He even took a few minutes after he repaired the door to help me with the lock that I was having trouble installing. I try to always ask for Ken."
Sam L., Diebold, Inc. (via AS&V Website)

"I've know Ken for years, when I worked for other lock and safe companies and now that I work for Diebold. Ken has opened many bank safes, vaults and ATMs for my company. He is knowledgeable, well-equipped, polite, neat and most importantly, FAST! He always does a first-rate job that reflects well on me, my company and impresses the client."
Chris. D., Diebold, Inc. (via AS&V Website)

"Today, Ken opened an ATM out at Oakland Airport that my guys had previously worked on for 2 days and had given up on it. Despite all the hassle of doing work inside the restricted area of an airport, Ken had it open and repaired the same day."
Jose E., Diebold, Inc. (Via AS&V Website)

"Ken and I worked on an Optiva 520 that had been locked-up for days. Ken got it open in only a couple of hours and even stayed with me after he finished the repair to make sure I had the lock installed and functioning. I was so glad Ken was so efficient and helpful because it was my daughter's birthday party that night and I thought I would be late for it."
Sabine R., Diebold, Inc. (via AS&V website)

"Ken is one of the nicest and most helpful persons I have came across in a long time. 
He  provided me with so much information that he didn't even have to come over to open up my safe that I haven't been able to open up in over a year. 
He talked me through, step-by-step on the four number combination. 
What a true blessing to have him on the phone with the patience he had at 7:30 at night.
 No words can express my feelings on how much he has helped me and my wife out on opening up the safe.
 Thanks again, Ken you are number one on my of Safecrackers."
Don in Hayward - Via Yelp Review

Copyright 2019 by Ken Doyle - The Safecracker
Phone: 1 (415) 519-3401
ADVANCED Safe & Vault