Fiction writer needs safecracking info

I'm writing a novel that contains a scene where someone opens a wall
safe with safecracking skills. I've read a number of posts in this
group and I realize that comprehensive instructions are inappropriate.
I just need a few details so the brief scene is realistic. The story
occurs in the 1950's and the character is under pressure to crack the
safe quickly.
Could you direct me to a resource (preferably written) or provide some
basic info yourself?
-- Nick
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Good for you!
Since I don't do any safe work - I can make up a story like the following - and I don't think I'm exposing any confidential info.
If the date is in the 50's, then the safe very likely could be pre-WWII. Back then they didn't build in the deterrants to opening by "manipulation" that they do in the good locks. So your character might say, "Wow, it's a good think that this is an old safe." and then start to work. I *think* that on those old safes that hearing one wheel pick up another was helpful - and so some kind of listening aid would help. The big thing was that they didn't protect well enough against feeling the "drop in" point on the wheels - and so using the wheel pick up points (write them down) and the "drop in points" (also write them down), the combination could be assembled.
Reply to
Henry E Schaffer
The clock in the living room was striking 2 AM when Christopher Young crawled through the dining room window. Chris looked left and right, and landed on his softly padded sneakers. To muffle the noise, Chris had wrapped fleece blankets around his sneakers. It made things much more slippery, so Chris had practiced for hours at home on all kinds of floors. The varnish on the dining room floor provided excellent grip. Something moved, along the side of Chris's vision. He quickly looked, and was relieved to see that it was only a cat. Chris paused for a moment to scratch the cat. And after a couple seconds the cat yawned, and went back to its cat box.
Slowly padding up the stairs, Chris glanced into each bedroom wtih his small pen lite. He knew the family would be out, because they were out of town on a business trip.
Chris gently pushed on the side of each of the framed portraits and paintings in the master bedroom. His thin leather gloves provided excellent sensation. One by one, each of the paintings tipped a little bit to the side. One remained rigid. This one, he pulled along the bottom, and the hinge swung open.
Chris smiled as he pulled off his gloves. He reached into his back pocket, and pulled out a folded stethoscope. He put the ends in his ears, and reached back into his pocket. This reach brought out a small piece of sandpaper. He absentmindedly looked at the safe while sanding the tips of the fingers on his right hand gently to make them more sensetive.
Chris smiled again as he read the brand name on the safe. Herring Hall Marvin. A quick turn of the dial told him that this was a four number combination -- more dificult than the typical three number combinations that other safes had in this series.
Slowly turning the combination to the right with his right hand, Chris listened intently with the stethescope. As the dial passed the number 31, he heard a tumbler drop. It was very distinctive, the sound of metal clicking on metal. Those old Herring Hall Marvins were wonderful in that regards. they had distinctive fences that a safe cracker could hear with a stethescope.
Chris turned the dial around one more full time, and slowed down well in advance of 31. He heard the tumbler drop again, and smiled. "Thirty one, thirty one, thirty one" he silently breathed inside his head.
Stopping the dial at 31, he slowly turned the dial to the left. He wasn't long to wait, at 54 he heard the distinctive sound again of a tumbler dropping. Second number.
Turning the dial to the rihgt again, he heard a distinctive sound again at 78. With a bit smile, Chris turned the dial to the left.
The dial stopped turning completely at 06, and Chris paused to take a big breath. It was almost too easy. But he remembered back all the years of practice he had, and how he had practiced with the fellows in prison, to memorize all this information. when he had gotten out in 48, he immediately headed to the nearest telephone to call Uncle Buck, who had the biggest operation in the state. And many said the most professional operation in the country.
All the months of practicing on safes had paid off. His first score. Chris slowly pulled the opening handle, and opened the door. He reached in his pocket to put away the stethescope, and pulled out his thin black gloves. He lit his penlite. The stack of green money was almost too much to believe. Next to the money was a jewelry box, and a small pistol. Chris checked the chamber and the magazine. And put the pistol in his waist band. He pulled out a black cloth bag, and put the rest of the contents of the safe in his cloth bag.
Chris gently closed the door of the safe, and smiled again. He pulled out a small tobacco tin, and snapped the top off. Inside was a damp towel, with a solvent mixture that he learned about in Uncle Buck's training. He carefully wiped every inch of the safe door, and around the edges of the safe. When he was certain that no fingerprints remained, he gently swung the framed portrait back to the wall.
Softly going down the stairs, Chris shined his penlite into the corner where the cat was. The cat was fast asleep.
Reply to
Stormin Mormon
Were they really that easy to crack back then? Seems like everyone and their mother would have been popping them open... Oh and the gun part: Usually, if they didn't come in with a gun they won't leave with one since it adds years to your sentence should you be caught with it (unless the gun was one of the things he was actually looking for).
Reply to
actual true story... the safe was made in 1911... had an outer door and an inner... the inner door combo unknown, but it HAD to be opened before the safe could be moved- just to make certain there was nothing in it. a 4 number Yale combo lock... took me 15 minutes to get a 'reading' of a number, then took another 20-25 minutes to try to get ANY others... said WHAT THE???? and tried something- was set to 1 NUMBER ONLY... 5 times left to 11, then right to open.
i did NOT listen, like the example, but used another technique that works pretty good as well
yes, some of them 'could be done'
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why did the lock not open on the first reading ? you did go back to drop to check it didn't you? this dont make sense to me.
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See the safe drilling seen early on in the movie "the score" or toward the end in that Jodie Foster movie what was it "safe room" "panic room" or something like that. It is about as realistic as you will find except as to time typically required, and a few other minor details.
Reply to
if I was going into a new career, I surely wouldn't write about it on usenet!
Great idea, though. Hmm. Used stolen cars, and safe contents..... maybe not.
Reply to
Stormin Mormon
Just heard back from Nick's publisher. Says Nick gets the pink slip on Feb 27 at 4 PM, Greenwich mean time. But don't lets tell him that. It's a (whispers here) secret......
Reply to
Stormin Mormon
I think the intended career was writing, not safecracking, but of course there's still the question of exactly how much of _that_ you want to give away on Usenet... <grin/>
Reply to
Joe Kesselman (yclept Keshlam
If he knew no one was home why worry about the noise ? Also no prison educated thief would wear anything on their shoes that might cause them to slip when fleeing. Running was and is their best means of escape if discovered. Real boxmen of that era could be in and out in ten minutes and would never waste time in an unoccupied home trying to listen to the wheel pack on those old safes. There is a much faster way to get into them. Your story might fly if the homeowner was at home in bed asleep. Also are you sure that a tumbler dropped?
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I don't think he was trying to be all that serious and most of the errors you pointed out were likely deliberate for humerous effect.
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