Tag Archives: high security safes

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.

Gun Safe Accessories — Added Security

If you share a large safe or gun safe with family members, especially children, you might need a separate little compartment inside it for sensitive items.  Maintain a little privacy and security – a place to hide your fun money, or the jewelry you bought your spouse for Christmas.  There are many options for this sort of thing, from a light duty security safe (Amsec’s EST916 on left) to a heavy duty Fort Knox Handgun safe (right).

IMG_3123 IMG_3107

Putting a small high-security money chest in the bottom of your safe might be a good idea, especially if your big unit is light on burglary deterrence.  The added weight makes it more difficult for someone to move your safe.  Even if your big safe is forcibly opened it is extremely unlikely that the money chest could be compromised.  This arrangement was very common in businesses when everyone still dealt with cash rather than credit cards.  While the round door money chest pictured is only 10”H X 12.5”W X 20”D, it weighs a whopping 290# because the steel is over an inch thick.  Perfect for silver, gold or cash.  In retirement planning you hear about 401K’s and IRA’s; money chests are good for URA’s – Unreported Retirement Accounts.


Alarming your gun safe is another option for increased security.  Some alarms just make noise to hopefully scare off a burglar.  Others can notify your cell phone or a monitoring company.  Door contact systems are the most common; the alarm is activated if the door is opened.

Having “a safe within a safe” makes sense for many people, and in West Michigan Hoogerhyde Safe is where you come for expert help.

Used Round Door / Square Door Safes

In past years a particular type of two-door commercial safe was common in grocery stores. A large fire rated compartment, for cash register trays and paper work, had a big square door. This compartment was usually on the bottom.

Large amounts of cash, like the day’s bank deposits, were kept in a small top compartment, which usually had a small round door. This high security money chest (usually TL rated) has a heavy plate steel body which is encased in about 200# of concrete.


A single outer steel skin encloses both safes into a single unit. If the money chest is on top the units are top heavy and tricky to move. Weight requires these double units to be placed on concrete floors.

These units fell out of favor about twenty years ago because the high security compartment is too small. In addition, it is difficult to fit round doors with electronic locks. Stores seldom want these safes anymore, so that creates an opportunity for homeowners: Used round door /square door safes are readily available at safe shops for reasonable prices. Protect your personal papers from fire in the fire rated lower part, while your cash, silver and gold is safe from burglars in the high security money chest.

Used High Security Safes for Silver and Gold

Tom’s two general rules about safe prices: 1) You can get fire protection relatively cheap or you can get burglary resistance relatively cheap, but the price of both fire and burglary will be relatively high; 2) Good quality used safes will save you a significant amount of money.

Here is a scenario we see often: A couple has been gradually (or suddenly) converting much of their personal wealth into silver and gold, to protect their life savings from a financial market collapse. They also want to prevent the government from knowing too much about their business. But they want to buy a cheap safe. They want to store a large portion of their life savings in a “garage sale price” safe. That doesn’t make sense. And they usually are more concerned about fire than break-in, so they buy a fire safe.

Plate steel safes 023Plate steel safes 029

If you buy coins with numismatic value, or it they are in plastic cases or presentation boxes, then fire and smoke protection is important. But if you are just buying rounds, bars or bulk silver coins I recommend a used plate steel high security unit. A used safe with 1” or 1 ½” of solid steel on the door and a “TL” rating will get you outstanding burglary resistance at a reasonable price. It is extremely unlikely that your metals would melt in a safe that did not have fire protection because the melting points are high. Following are melting temps for typical investment grade metals.

Gold, 24K                     1945 F
Silver, pure                  1761 F
Silver, coin                  1615 F
Silver, sterling             1640 F

The used safe shown on the left is small, 10 x 12 x 16, perfect for hiding under a cardboard box in a closet.  But it has a TL-15 rating and it weighs 250#!  Steel on the front is 2″ thick and the rest is 1″ thick.  The other unit is 22 x 22 x 25, a TL-15 rated safe with a 1 1/2″ solid steel door  — it weighs 910#.  These units are great for low volume/high value contents like silver or gold.

Avoid Injuries From Safes: Part 4

Ironically, immediately after my last post we got in a used commercial safe with a history of injury.  And it came from the same restaurant chain to which I referred in that last post.

Slam damper 003Slam damper 009

Some years ago, AFTER an employee lost a finger in this safe, it was fitted with three safety devices to prevent additional accidents.  1)  The photo on left shows the slam damper that was installed, which keeps the door from slamming on someone’s hand.  (I know the photo in the last post was poor.)  2)  In the other photo you can see a push/pull handle.  When using this handle to close the safe your fingers are not near the edge of the door.  3)  That picture also shows the yellow figure guard.  This piece of steel extends up 3” above the edge of the door, again, to keep fingers from getting pinched as the door is closed.

My guess is that the cost of installing these three items was much less than the business ended up paying for the severed finger!

Avoid Injuries When Working with Safes: Part 3

I get nervous when parents bring kids into our shop and then don’t watch them closely.  I warn them that “safe doors are not kind to little fingers.”  That is true at home, too – if you have a safe do not allow children to use it.  It doesn’t take much for a safe door to injure or even cut off a small finger.

The same can be said for adult fingers when a heavy safe is involved, especially when the safe is a high security plate steel model.  Some years ago one of the fast food chains standardized on a TL-30 plate steel safe in which the door was 1 ½” solid plate steel.  The doors fit with very close tolerances and had sharp 90 degree edges.  I know of several instances just in our area where employees using the safe were not careful enough.  As a result, the door was closed when their hands were in the way and their pinky fingers were severed.  When a 300# door wants to close, a little finger will not stop it.  I know one of the restaurant mangers well.  She went through terrible anguish as they put the finger on ice and rushed the girl to the hospital.  But it could not be re-attached.

Think about how you as a business owner or manager would feel if that happened to your employee!  Think about the potential for a law suit!  As a consumer, how would you feel if your child was injured like that?

Slam Damper 005

There is a solution to the problem.  The “slam damper” is a hydraulic deceleration cylinder that will slow down the door as it closes.  The picture looks down on a slam damper (not installed) and the kind of heavy plate steel safe which is the biggest problem — the door is 1 1/2″ steel with sharp edges.  The device is mounted inside, usually to the top of the safe body.  The door is stopped before closing and the user needs to push the door the rest of the way, making them think about what they are doing.

Total cost for the slam damper and its installation should run about $350 to $400.  It sounds expensive, but how much sleep would you lose after an accident?  How much would a severed finger cost you in court?  Train your employees in the importance of being careful when using the safe.  For additional protection have a safe technician install a slam damper.

Avoid Injuries When working With Safes: Part 1

Moving safes can be dangerous.  You should not attempt to move large units, like gun safes, unless you have experience with this kind of task.  It is not uncommon for people to be injured when moving a safe.  We are occasionally called to stand up a safe that has fallen over when it was being handled by inexperienced people.  Usually their new safe is now scratched up and ugly.  Frequently it also then needs to be professionally drilled open and have a new lock installed.  The safe on which they “got a good deal” has now cost them dearly.

Several tips for moving a heavy safe:

1)  Having too many people around can cause distractions, increasing the likelihood of accidents.

2)  Take lots of time to think through all the issues and risks – hurrying can cause accidents.

3)  Rolling a safe across the floor on golf balls sounds like a good idea, but has been the cause of many accidents.  Trying to slide a safe on blocks of ice is really dangerous.  Use pipes instead.

4)  When moving a safe by pallet jack, fork lift, crane, etc., be alert and stand far enough away that the safe cannot possibly reach you if it falls.

CRANE LIFT 051 (427x640)

5)  If the safe wants to fall, especially a tall one, don’t be a hero.  Don’t try to stop it, let it fall.  Paying to have it repaired is cheaper and less painful than broken bones.

6)  We normally advise not taking the door off to lighten the safe.  Dropping the door on your foot could cause a serious injury.  A heavy, tall, awkward safe door can catch you off guard and knock you over.  (You will probably also damage the paint trying to put the door back on it hinges.)

7)  When taking a heavy unit down stairs be EXTREMELY CAUTIOUS.  Consider standing at the top of the stairs and slowly lowering it with straps.  Consider reinforcing the staircase from underneath.

8)  Best advice:  Pay to hire professionals.

Too many people are injured, or damage their safe, or damage their home when doing work they should not attempt.  Buy you safe from a dealer that offers delivery service.

The Best Way to Install a Safe

We are frequently asked whether it is best to install a safe flat on the floor or to raise it up off the floor to provide air circulation.  Since each method involves trade-offs, the “Best” method depends on your situation and your primary concern.

If security is the only issue the safe should be flat on the floor, bolted down.  But won’t that cause rust and stain the floor if there is no air circulation?  Very possibly, depending on the type of floor and how well the bottom of the safe is primed or painted.  Most residential safes are primed, but some companies do a poor job of it.  Sliding the safe across rough surfaces will scrape off primer, making rust more likely.   The primer itself may stain.  So just make the assumption that the floor will get stained.  Then decide whether the potential of burglars removing your safe is more important than the risk of a discolored floor.

If the safe is going into a basement which has a history of water problems, I recommend elevating it on 4” x 4” or 4” x 6” wood.  Putting the safe on concrete blocks will lift it even higher.  These arrangements will be functional but they won’t look great.  IMPORTANT:  When elevating a safe make sure it is supported right out to the front edge or the safe may fall forward when the door is opened!  This is especially true with tall units like gun safes.  Note that raising the safe makes bolting it down pointless — the open space allows pry bars or pallet jacks underneath which can pull the bolts right out of the floor.  We often use hockey pucks or thin strips of wood to create a ventilation space underneath.  Hockey pucks even look good.  But this small space makes a great home for mice and bugs.

Blog, Install safes 002Blog, Install safes 004

Finished hardwood floors are easily scratched when maneuvering a safe into place.  Here are two things that work out well:  Put the safe on a piece of up-side-down carpet, soft side to the floor.  The safe will slide easily into place and it won’t scratch the floor.  Four thick felt pads under the safe will accomplish the same thing.  But be careful using pads because some safes are bowed on the bottom and the middle might still scrape the floor.

f you are not concerned about someone removing your safe, and you do not want the floor stained, and you don’t want to create a home for small critters, and you want it to look nice, buy a 4” high carpeted pedestal.  We sell them for $70.

Relock Devices: External Relockers

External relockers are located outside the lock body, but usually right next to it, inside the safe door. The external relocker stops the transfer bars from moving, so that the safe bolts cannot be forced back by a burglar into the unlocked position. Two variations of the most common arrangement are shown below.

External Relockers 002External Relockers 005


If someone pounds on the dial enough so that the dial spindle drives the lock or lock cover backwards, then it releases the spring loaded relock bolt.  On some safes (picture on right) it will block the cam from moving by dropping behind the cam or into a notch on the cam.  Safes that use gear drives rather than cams will be different.  On the gear drive Fort Knox on the left , the relock bolt goes behind a block welded to the transfer bar.  Some safes have a notch in the transfer bar into which the relocker goes.  A qualified safe technician will be required to open a safe after an external relocker has been set off.

Interesting note:  The safe on the right is a popular brand that we will not sell, and the relocker is not assembled properly.  The lock cover plate is installed so that the roll pin rests on top of it, rather than being fit into a hole in the plate where it is supposed to be.  I guess it takes too long to make the parts fit correctly.

When buying a safe make sure it has an internal relocker.  Most cheap safes, especially Chinese made safes, do not have them.

Relock Devices on Safes: Internal Relockers

Most safe manufacturers tell you that they have relock devices in their safes, but they never tell you what one is or what it does.

The most common form of relocker is the “internal” relocker.  “Internal” because it is located inside the lock body on safe locks that are rated Group 2 or higher.  Burglars attempting to break into a safe will frequently smash the lock dial on the outside of the safe with a hammer, bat or anything else they can swing.  The force of that blow will drive the dial spindle back into the safe, against the back cover of the lock body. The lock body is located inside the safe door.  Enough force will cause the back cover to break away along a line that is intentionally made weak by the lock manufacturer.   When this occurs a spring loaded “relock trigger” pops into a hole in the lock bolt.  The lock bolt is the part that actually keeps your safe locked, by preventing the big bolts in the door edge from being pushed back in.  With the relock trigger in that hole, then the lock bolt is deadlocked and cannot be forced to unlock.


Picture on left shows back cover of S&G Group 2 lock.  Picture on right shows lock with cover removed.  Relocker is the angled brass piece in lower right.  Since the lock cover is removed the relocker is “fired”, and you can see the right end of it is in the hole on the lock bolt.

If the relocker is set off this way a burglar is much less likely to get into your safe.  You will not be able to open it either.  An experienced safe technician will be able to open you safe and make it useable again.  Note that most locksmiths are not skilled at opening locked safes, especially when a relocker has been set off.

Next posting will be on external relockers.