Each of us has our own values at home or in the office that we wouldn’t want to lose at burglary. Many people prefer to buy a safe as an opportunity to store their savings or documents securely.
Features and Varieties
For most of the available metal boxes, cabinets, and cases that are commonly used for storage, there is no guarantee against burglary. Some of them can even be cracked without the use of force – just by pressing the box. Metal sheets can sometimes be cut with a simple knife. There are also models of relatively good design but their built-in locks can be easily cracked.
Some of the safe varieties and classifications:
- Low or high-level security safes;
- ATM safes;
- Vaults with high-security locks;
- Cabinet safes;
- Built-in wall or floor safes.
Other classifications, like home, combined, rigid, office, hotel, professional, bank, and weapon safes are also widely used. But these are focused on commercial activities and indicate, above all, the possible purpose and the place of the product application.
In fact, safes are divided into 2 groups – separate, i.e. fully ready-made products, the most common for use, and built-in (floor/wall).
What’s a Safe?
According to page at homecarechoices.org, the simplest type of safe is a box (housing) with a cover (door). Ever since it appeared centuries ago as a wooden chest with metal casing, there has been no significant difference in its appearance.
In most cases, the box is made up of 2 layers of metal, the distance between which is filled with other “stuffing.” It has holes – anchored and closed – for the door blocking. Some safes require a wiring harness to connect to the alarm system. On the box, by means of hinges, the door is mounted. In most cases, these hinges are external, but there are also internal locations (hidden).
Door assembly is more complicated. It provides access to content and all the elements that make it possible to block the safe are usually mounted in the doors.
Passive pins (profiles), which are embedded in the holes of the body, are also mounted on the hinge side of the door. Their purpose is to prevent the door from being disassembled when the hinges are removed.
Behind the safety panel, a locking mechanism is integrated. It controls active pins, ensuring that the door is securely attached to the enclosure when locked.
The locks are attached to the mechanism. They are used for locking when the door is locked. Designers pay special attention to multi-point locking of doors. This is achieved by a series of horizontal and vertical pins (active and passive). The inside of the door is sealed with a cover securing built-in mechanisms.
There are a number of modern design solutions mainly used to protect locks and locking mechanism from the use of force.
The simplest solution is the availability of various steel plates with a high drilling resistance installed to complement the locks and parts of the mechanism.
Alternatively, a locking device can be mounted. Its purpose is to lock the mechanism after a break-in attempt is detected. An example of such a passive device is the installation of a glass sheet before the locking mechanism. If this shield is broken, a system of ropes and levers is activated and the mechanism gets locked in several places.
In this case, the door cannot be opened even with a key (code). It is necessary to drill or cut the door in several places. This makes it difficult even for the manufacturer or someone familiar with the design of the mechanism. The reason for this is that the majority of well-known manufacturers install such devices by locating blocking elements in different places for each safe. And only they know the exact location.
Another way to limit access, even with the safe key available, is to install electronic devices. They block the lock, and it takes a special signal or a great deal of time to unlock it.
Current Standards and Security Requirements
- The main feature, required by the standard, is theft resistance;
- Depending on the resistance established by the tests, safes are divided into 11 classes:
- They range from 0 (the lowest resistance) to X (the highest).
The standard also includes the possibility (optionally) of other testings:
- Explosion resistance testing (not applicable for classes 0 and I);
- Drilling resistance with diamond points (applicable to Class IV and above).
The next requirement is fire resistance.
Not every safe is fire-resistant, despite the fact that this point is often emphasized by sellers or manufacturers.
To create fire resistance, structures, technologies, and materials, different from those used in the burglary, are used, e.g. for the fire resistance of a safe, it is necessary to remove all possible lintels (connecting fittings) between the outer and inner metal casings of the body and door. In the break-in event, they are also necessary to ensure the strength of the structure. What can be considered normal to provide fire resistance, will, at the same time, have a burglary resistance of 0 or I level.
The Pros and Cons
Depending on the purpose of purchase and the conditions for safe installation, the appropriate product is chosen.
These imply additional casting of reinforced concrete around the product which excludes integration into existing floors – standard residential building slabs are no more than 200 mm thick, and the walls, in most cases, have a thickness that does not exceed 250 mm.
Depending on the size and type of the apartment, additional walls or niches can be built for a safe. But one should first address the designer so as not to violate the building norms.
For a private house, a built-in safe is preferable. It is rational, especially when new construction, repair, and reconstruction of the building.
You can locate it anywhere. It is less expensive but more accessible and visible.
Which one to choose – it is up to you. But the main part of any safe is its lock. When choosing a safe, pay close attention to the type of lock in it, as it will prevent strangers from breaking into your money vault.
The positive thing about this type of locks, as with the simplest mechanism, is that when working with them, you are unlikely to have any “surprises”, plus the prices are the lowest. The disadvantage is that you have to carry the key with you. And it’s a big mistake to hide it somewhere in the room near the safe. In this case, there is no point in a safe at all because of a high probability of being detected by a thief. Precautions should be taken to avoid losing it: keep the spare key away from the safe and home/office. Keep in mind that if the safe has a higher level of resistance and a built-in lock mechanism, opening it without a key is a rather difficult task.
The disadvantage for those with weak nerves is to open such locks when the process involves a series of attempts.
Electronic code locks
Pros: the easiest to operate – they work by pressing a number of buttons; code combinations are more than 1,000,000, and also, if you dial incorrectly more than 3 times, they are blocked. Even if the password is forgotten, the lock is opened with a special key. The lock can be reprogrammed. There are several security levels.
Cons: higher price, more susceptible to manipulation, battery condition must be monitored; high-sensitive to the environment lock.
Use fingerprints. Fast, reliable but depend on the batteries and are quite sensitive to the environment.