Tag Archives: Home security

Used Safe Deposit Boxes Can Be Useful

We sometimes get blocks of safe deposit boxes from inside large safes.  But a large local bank is getting ready for a renovation project which includes removing over 2600 safe deposit boxes of various sizes from a large vault.

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Safe deposit boxes typically have ½” thick stainless steel doors, while the bodies are light duty steel or aluminum.  They usually have dual key locks, a “guard key” for the bank employee, and a “user key” for the box renter.  Some come with combination locks, these are usually for bank personnel.

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Safe deposit boxes are not hot sellers but a few folks find uses for them.  Coin collectors, for instance, may segregate different classes of coins in separate boxes.  Ammo can be organized with safe deposit boxes inside a gun safe.  If you have a use for safe deposit boxes your local safe specialist probably has some around.  If you need 2600 of them call us right away before this group gets scrapped.

Gun Safe or Burglary Safe: The Affect on Insurance

Customers always ask about insurance coverage when they have a gun safe or burglary safe.  There are lots of assumptions and questions, so I called several agents that handle home insurance, and here is what I was told.

One said that usually, if you have a burglary safe you can get a small savings on your annual insurance cost, probably around $10; the other disagreed.  Ask your agent.  The next paragraphs talk about coins in particular, but collections of guns, jewelry, watches, etc. will be similar.

They both said that, if you don’t have your coins scheduled or itemized on a rider, your policy will usually cover up to about $500, whether they are in a safe or not.  But they will only be replaced at face value, so numismatic value will not apply.  A penny that is worth $50 to a collector will still be reimbursed for $.01.  Value of the silver or gold content most likely will not count either.

If you have your collection appraised and covered on a rider, they will be covered up to the appraised value.  (My coin guy charges $50/hour to do written appraisals.)  When that value is based mostly on the gold or silver weight, however, be careful.  If the appraisal is done when gold is $1300 per ounce, and you are robbed when gold is worth $1600 per ounce, you will be reimbursed at the original $1300 value.  Cost of the insurance rider will probably run about $38/year for every $10,000 in value provided the collection is in a safe.  Cost will go up about $4 to $5 per $10,000 in value if there is no safe.

All kinds of variables affect insurance, including where you live, which insurance company you use, your loss history, etc.  For an extremely high value collection there may be better coverage with a TL-rated safe.  There might be specialized policies for high value collections, like there are for classic car collections.  Some items are irreplaceable because of sentimental value, like Great Grandpa’s old rifle or Grandma’s wedding ring.  To the insurance company they are probably only worth generic value.  I am certainly no expert.  Don’t make assumptions – ask your agent lots of questions.

You should always have insurance coverage on your valuables.   But the best protection against theft in the first place is to have a really good gun safe or burglary safe and good home security.  Don’t take a chance that you may not be properly reimbursed after a loss.  Prevent the loss!

New Home? Get Divorced? Make Sure to Re-key the Locks!

We had an emergency residential service call last week from a couple who were very upset.  They finished moving into their new home on Wednesday.  On Saturday night when they were away someone got in with a key and robbed them.  At least no one was hurt, but they obviously needed their locks re-keyed.

Last year we had a similar call from a single mother who was robbed the first day after moving in, while she was at work.  She was afraid to stay in her house that night with her children, so we fixed her up that night.  There are always more keys around than the previous owners turn in!

We see terrible things happen when a couple goes through a messy divorce.  You hear about the worst cases on the news when someone gets hurt.

Home security should start immediately when you buy a house or when there is a change in living arrangements.  Check the quality of the locks, make sure they latch properly and have them re-keyed.  Consider spending more for high security locks which are un-pickable or for push-button locks that don’t use keys.  Make sure windows lock properly.  Look at slider doors especially close to make sure they latch well, and make sure the sliding unit cannot be lifted completely out of the frame.  Install motion activated exterior lights, and maybe add a security system.  If there is a safe, change the combination.

When you have a new home custom built have the locks re-keyed before you move in.  Think about how many workers were there with access to the locks and keys.  Incidentally, do not have the builder install a wall safe – every person who goes through the house will know about it.  Workers all have access to various power saws, so they could come back later and just cut the safe out from a stud wall.  Wait until after the contractors have left the jobsite to install wall safes or fire/burglary safes.

Don’t ignore security at these life changing events when you are especially vulnerable!

Coolest Gun Safe on the Market, From Fort Knox

Fort Knox Safes is famous for allowing the consumer to customize the gun safe he wants.  This year Fort Knox introduced two more options that offer cool new looks, more ways to get your gun safe your way.

Old, very retro industrial design is fashionable.  This is especially true where old factories and warehouses are being converted into desirable apartments and condos.  Fort Knox’ new “Distressed Industrial” finish fits right in.  Each gun safe is different with the addition of big rivets and random distress marks to the paint.  Besides rehabilitated industrial buildings these units look good in your work shop area or man cave.

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The other terrific new option is Fort Knox’ crane hinge.  This is also a throw-back to the old days.  A hundred years ago very heavy safes and vault doors were frequently built with crane hinges to help the doors move more freely.  This system makes safe doors that are actually double-hinged, so they move in a more three dimensional manner.  Crane hinges are available on all Fort Knox gun safes (except Mavericks) and in all finishes.  D6031 and D7240 shown.

If you want to really impress your friends — and get serious security at the same time — get a Fort Knox gun safe or vault door with the new Distressed Industrial finish and crane hinges.  Awesome!

Use Discretion When Buying a Gun Safe, Part 2

Additional thoughts about being discrete concerning your gun safe:

  • Don’t allow your safe to be delivered with a truck or trailer advertising gun safes. The truck should be unmarked so your neighbors don’t all know about your safe.
  • It is best if delivery is not subcontracted out to a delivery company. That allows more people to know about your safe and possibly see the combination.
  • It is best to not have a safe drop-shipped to your home. Someone in the freight system will know about your safe and may have the opportunity to find the combination.
  • Do not place your safe where it can be seen through a window – don’t temp someone who might look into the house from outside.
  • It is best to place the safe in a room where it is least likely to be seen by house guests.
  • If possible put the safe inside a closet or in a room with a locking door.
  • If possible, avoid putting your safe in a garage because it is more likely to be seen by neighbors, snoopy kids, delivery personnel, landscape workers, etc. If you must put it in the garage, anchor it to the floor.
  • Do not tell all your friends that you bought a safe, and certainly do not post it on your Facebook page.

A quality gun safe is a major purchase, almost like buying a car.   Most people want to show it off, but common sense says you should keep it private.

Use Discretion When Buying a Gun Safe

There is a gun store in our state that also sells gun safes.  When they sell a safe they put a “sold” sign on it which includes the buyer’s name, address and phone number.  But the safe along with the customer’s information remains on display until it is picked up or delivered.  Dozens of people every day could potentially write down the safe model and customer information with the intent to break into it after it is installed.  But consider this:  A thief might decide that since the buyer obviously has things in the house that need to be in a safe, it might be better to visit his house now, before the safe is delivered!

I related this to a customer who had visited that gun store.  He observed the same thing and said he would never buy a gun safe there because of the store’s complete lack of discretion.  But he stated “It’s even worse than that. I asked to see the interior of a sold safe, and the store employee wrote the combination for me on a paper so I could open it to look.  I could have gone to that guy’s house when he was away, opened the safe using the combination, and cleaned it out, without needing to take any tools.”

Be careful when investing in home security.  Protect yourself by being discrete, and buy from a place that also practices discretion.  Stores like the one above are one of the reasons I always say “Buy your guns from a gun store, but buy you gun safe from a safe store.”      

New Year’s Resolutions: Improve Home Security

I’m not big on New Year’s Resolutions. One reason is that if I had any flaws I would have fixed them already. The other reason is that most resolutions are never fully met. If you resolve to lose 20 pounds and keep it off, you never really finish. If you resolve to “be a better person”, you never get to quit being good, or you blow your resolution commitment.

If, however, you want to do something meaningful and have an end point at which time you can say “I achieved my resolution” — then I have an idea. Do that home security upgrade that you have been thinking about. It could be installing security cameras, installing deadbolts, putting motion activated lights outside your house, locking up papers and jewelry in a fire/burglary safe, securing your guns in a gun safe, properly protecting your coin or stamp collection, etc.

Take some time to study what you need, spend enough money to buy quality products, and then arrange for installation. By the middle of January you can sit back with a cold beer and feel proud that you accomplished your resolution. No guilt for the rest of the year! Besides, if you try to be a better person than you really are, that’s likely to cause more stress, which might make you eat more, resulting in gain weight, then you feel bad so you start to drink more than you should, which causes . . .

Have a great 2016!

New Year’s Resolution: Home Security

I’m not big on New Year’s Resolutions because if I had any flaws I would have fixed them already.  No, that’s not really it.  The real reason is that most resolutions are never fully met.  If you resolve to lose 20 pounds and keep it off, you never really finish.  If you resolve to “be a better person”, you never get to quit being good without blowing you resolution commitment.

If, however, you want to do something meaningful and have an end point at which time you can say “I achieved my resolution” — then I have an idea.  Do that security upgrade that you have been thinking about.  It could be installing security cameras in your home, or putting motion activated lights outside your house, installing deadbolts, locking up papers and jewelry in a fire/burglary safe, securing your guns in a gun safe, properly protecting your coin or stamp collection, etc.

Spend some time studying what you need, spend enough money to buy quality products, and then arrange for installation.  By the middle of January you can sit back with a cold beer and feel proud that you accomplished your resolution.  No guilt for the rest of the year!  Besides, if you try to be a better person than you really are, that’s likely to cause more stress, which might make you gain weight, then you feel bad so you start to . . .

Have a great 2015!

In-Floor Safes Part 2, the Downsides

In-floor safes provide terrific security from theft, but most customers decide against buying one when they learn about all the negatives.
1)  Difficult to install:  Floor safes are hard to install, especially if you need to cut a hole into an existing concrete floor.  Even when pouring a new floor it can be difficult to properly set the safe.
2)  Lack of space:  If all you are storing is gold or cash most floor safes will give you plenty of room.  But for bulkier items like silver or a coin collection or documents you will run out of space quickly.
SQUARE & CYLINDER IN-FLOOR SAFES
3)  Inconvenient to use:  Getting down on hands and knees to unlock a floor safe is awkward.  Reaching down below floor level into the safe is worse.  Even if your knees and back allow you to do that now, will they still be OK in five or ten years?
4)  Water and moisture problems:  Most floor safes are not water-proof around the door, so a broken water heater, sewer backup, water from a fire hose or heavy rain can flood a floor safe and damage its contents.  A rising water table can flood the safe from below ground if there are cracks in the welds.  Floor safes tend to be more damp than above ground units, so they are more likely to develop odors and mildew.
5)  Rust:  When safes are installed so that there is contact with damp sand, most can rust through in just a few years.  A plastic or fiberglass safe body can prevent this problem.
6)  Lock problems:  Since the lock is below floor level, it is easy for sand and dirt to get inside it.  That will cause problems for any kind of lock.
7)  You can’t take it with you:  When you sell your house you will almost certainly need to leave a floor safe behind and buy a new one.

All that being said, the high security provided by floor safes make them appropriate for some folks.

In-Floor Safes, Part 1

In-floor safes offer several big security advantages compared to “above ground” units, but they also have limitations for most applications.

SQUARE & CYLINDER IN-FLOOR SAFES

SQUARE AND CYLINDER FLOOR SAFES

The first advantage is that they are out of sight – that is really important.  When properly installed they can be hidden by furniture or covered by a rug to become “invisible”.  Even if your floor safe is discovered, they are very difficult to open by anyone except a trained professional.  In fact, most of the safe technician’s usual opening techniques can’t be used on floor safes.     If properly installed in a concrete floor they are almost impossible to remove without big power tools.  In addition, a burglar cannot go through the side of a floor safe the way he might be able to on a standard type safe, and pounding on the door with a sledge hammer rarely works.

REMOVABLE SAFE HEADS

REMOVABLE SAFE HEADS

Some floor safes have removable “safe heads” that can easily be carried to a lock shop for a combo change.  This saves the cost of an expensive service call by the locksmith.  Businesses that need frequent combo changes appreciate the savings.

Next:  The downsides of in-floor safes.