Monthly Archives: May 2018

Gun Safes Provide Convenient Access for Jewelry

Almost weekly older women come to our store looking to buy a safe for jewelry.  They usually want something about two to three feet tall with fire protection and a reasonable amount of burglary resistance.  Depending on the value of their jewelry, where the safe will be located and how much they are willing to spend there are a number of alternatives.  People expect trade-offs between cost, weight, security level, etc.  Two things they frequently have not factored in, however, are convenience and future practicality.

When I show them what they asked for they are typically happy with one vault or another.  But then we have a discussion about convenience now and the future.  With that three foot high safe they would normally be down on hands and knees to open it and find what they want from inside.  I remind them that their back and knees are probably getting a little worse every year.  “Think how hard it might be to use this safe in five or ten years.”


I then suggest a Fort Knox gun safe in size 6026 — with four shelves rather than a gun interior.  This gives them a small footprint that will fit in many closets, more capacity and the ability to use the safe standing up.  I will jokingly bring up that in the future they could still use this safe even if they use a walker.  Funny or not, they understand this is actually a legitimate consideration. And while most safes are quite dark inside, getting the safe in Fort Knox’s Rimrock color with a beige interior (pictured) makes the interior light enough for them to find what they want.  Plus, they are getting a vault with good fire rating and great burglary deterrence.

These ladies very often come in with their husband, son, daughter or girl-friends.  They don’t come in looking for a gun safe, but their conversations turn to “I never thought of getting a tall skinny safe”, “what a great idea” and “that makes so much sense”.  They also love the idea of an easy-to-use, dependable electronic lock.  It always feels satisfying to make someone really happy with their purchase.

A safe that is inconvenient to use just won’t serve you well, especially in the future.  Consider whether the vault you buy now will still be the right one in five or ten years.

Lost Keys? Look for a Key Code!

Everyone loses keys at some point, so you should always have a back-up key for every lock you deal with.  It is always easier and cheaper to have a duplicate made rather than have one “originated” when you no longer have one to copy.

When you have lost that last key, your locksmith may be able to make a “key by code” relatively cheaply, depending on the type of lock.  On many utility-type locks a key code will be stamped on the face of the lock.  Looking up the code tells the locksmith which key blank to use and how to cut it.  For example, Code # FR301 is for Steecase furniture; it tells the locksmith that the right key blank is #K101, and it specifies cut depths and spacing between cuts in thousandths of an inch.

Cost for making a key by code is higher than just copying a key; it takes longer and requires special machines and reference materials.  It usually runs $10 to $20.  Price is most often determined by whether the key is one-sided, two-sided or a tubular type.  There are exceptions, of course.  If you have a safe or fire file with a high-security Medeco lock, for instance, your local locksmith probably cannot cut the key.  You may need to spend $50 to $100 to get a replacement key from the manufacturer.

Locks for which codes are typically visible include those for office furniture, car luggage racks, tool chests, towel dispensers, cabinets, file cabinets, gum ball machines, old steamer chests and low end key-locking safes.


If you find the key code a number of issues might still prevent an easy fix to your situation.  For instance:

  • If the code is too simple, say, three numerals like “158”, the locksmith’s computer will find a large number of different code series that use that number. Then it is hard to figure out which series is the appropriate one to use.  A more complicated code will eliminate questions.  For example, Steelcase’s key system is the only one that uses #FR301.
  • Some code series cannot be found in reference materials.
  • Sometimes the code is stamped poorly and cannot be read. In the photo you can easily read the lock maker’s name but it is hard to read the 221 key code.
  • There can be errors or typo’s in the way the code was recorded by the manufacturer, so the locksmith is given the wrong information to work with.
  • The lock could have been re-keyed at some point, so the original code is no longer valid.
  • Most lock shops will not have all the information resources and every machine required to cut every key.

Because of potential problems that are not our fault, when we make keys by code we do not guaranty them to work and we do not refund the cost.

As manufacturers change products over time, and as security requirements change, availability of key codes also change.  In the past Master printed key codes on the bottoms of padlocks, but now they do not.  There is a good reason for that:  It used to be that a person could get the code off the padlock on someone’s storage shed, then have a key made by a locksmith so he could steal tools.  Years ago it was easy to get key codes if you had a car’s VIN number.  All you had to do was look at the VIN through the windshield, then have a key made.  Remember when car theft was the most common crime in the U.S.?

Sometimes key codes were hidden but could be found if you knew where to look.  On GM cars from past years the code was on the ignition lock, but the lock had to be removed to see it.  With some foreign cars key codes were on the lock cylinder of the passenger-side door lock.  Now they don’t even have passenger-side door locks.

If you lose your last key, look for a key code before doing anything rash.  (You might need a magnifying glass.)  Chances are good that the local locksmith can make one for you.  But have him make two!

Safes and Locks for Marijuana Dispensaries and Suppliers

The medical marijuana industry is here and gaining acceptance.  Things are still evolving for growers and dispensaries, which can make the business side of it difficult.  From what we see some of those issues are:

  • Cannabis dispensaries and growers are much more likely to suffer break-ins than traditional businesses. The product involved, and the perception that huge amounts of cash are involved, make dispensaries tempting targets.
  • Insurance may be difficult to obtain which opens up business owners to out-of-pocket losses.
  • Start-up loans are extremely hard to get, so more out-of-pocket money is required to open a business.
  • Banking difficulties may require that more cash be kept on-site.
  • Regulations are likely to change at the local, state and federal levels. What you spend today to comply with regulations might be wasted money by next year.

In one way or another, the following products will help with physical security issues:  Door locks & hardware, safes & vault doors, camera systems, alarm & monitoring systems.  Hoogerhyde deals with the first two of these.

Locks:  A dispensary’s building should have high security locks.  Avoid using residential quality locks that you buy at box stores.  Commercial grade locks are much stronger so they will slow down would-be burglars.  Restricted key systems will prevent employees from having duplicate keys made without authorization.  Consider up-grading to keyless locks to eliminate keys altogether.

Safes:  Most cannabis suppliers for whom we have provided safes have chosen to save money by purchasing less security than we would recommend.  This is usually because cash is in short supply when starting the business without bank loans.  Naturally, safes are important for protecting inventory and cash.  We always have a selection of used high security safes in stock to help save money.

If a business does not have good insurance a break-in could cause a major financial loss.  Top notch physical security then becomes especially important, to minimize potential loss.  Besides that, a vault with a high security rating may be a requirement to be insured.  One of our dispensary clients who purchased what we consider to be an appropriate safe, was told by his insurance company that a TL-15 rated safe was needed to obtain coverage.

If the federal government eventually relaxes marijuana laws, it may require suppliers to comply with the same D.E.A. requirements that it dictates when dealing with other controlled substances.  In that case the dispensary that initially bought a cheap safe would need to spend money again to buy a TL-15.

Hoogerhyde Safe can help protect your medical marijuana business.  Out store is in Grand Rapids but we deliver to anywhere in Michigan.  We have a big assortment of new and used safes, from small to huge — and vault doors.  We also have the knowledge to answer your questions.  In addition, we can increase your building’s security by installing high quality locks and key systems.