I must confess I had no idea what Pareidolia meant. But a friendly lady taking pictures of a safe with a hole drilled in it was kind enough to explain.
She showed on her phone an endless series of images of everyday objects, like a slice of bread or cucumber. All these images had one thing in common: the structure of the object was not altered but still shaped in a way to clearly show a face. And that basically is what Pareidolia is: seeing (or hearing) shapes in objects that were not purposely designed with that in mind.
Once she noticed one face somewhere, she started to notice them everywhere. Including in this poor drilled safe. And now I see them too.
You might know by now that WSS exists to open locks with no damage, or as little damage as possible. Whether picking or manipulating, we like to say that locks are talking to us, telling us how they would like to be opened. As you can imagine, we are used to listening carefully to what locks have to say.
Unfortunately our customers sometimes do not get the subtle or less subtle clues the lock is giving them. Like the owner of this nice CHUBB LIPS safe. The customer was having trouble with the keypad for some time. It was getting harder and harder entering the correct code. Until the moment it was no longer possible to enter the code.
When we arrived we opened the safe and discovered the keypad cable was the problem. There was a lot of stress on the cable and over time it got more and more damaged. Finally one internal wire in the cable broke, causing the signals from the keypad never reaching the lock inside the safe.
We still found a way to open it without damage to the safe. After installing some new components the safe is as good as new and ready for many years of use.
It is our company policy to never open the door to a safe. We will unlock the safe for the customer, but only the customer will actually open the door. Often we will wait outside the room while the customer removes the content of the safe. When the safe is empty we can service it and by setting a new combination or replace the lock(s).
We are never interested what is inside your safe. It is just not our business. And sometimes we are very happy to leave the room before the door is opened. Like on one of our latest jobs, carefully opening a safe containing radio-active material.
In this case the combination to the safe was unknown. For years two pieces of tape kept the combination lock in the unlocked position. Until Murphy’s law kicked in and someone decided to break the tape and turn the dial. Resulting in a lockout and finding out nobody alive knows the code.
Opening the safe was an interesting job and took some skill to do it right. The result is that the safe is back in use and the customer now has a working code and can actually lock it. Things like this keep it interesting.
It pays off to having more then one key to your safe. In this case the owner had one key left to open his safe. For years this went well until the key got lost. As always the timing was not good. We managed to open this Dudley Windsor safe without any damage to the safe or lock.
We swapped the lock and serviced the door. This high quality safe is good to go for many more years.
We were asked if we could open this antique ‘Stephen Cox & Son‘ safe and make new keys for it. When we received a picture of the safe we were thrown off a little by the text on the lock cover saying ‘unpickable lock‘. High quality locks were available in that time that could indeed frustrate picking quite a bit. But in this case it turned out to be just one hundred year old ‘snake oil‘.
We picked it open and made new keys. The lock turned out to be nothing special and a true safe technician one hundred years ago probably could have done the same.
After servicing the unpickable lock and making new keys, the safe is back in use. Hopefully for another one hundred years.
Dutch locksmith association NSSG had video’s made showing what each of it’s certified locksmiths does. It was a fun project involving students from the Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam. It is always nice to see young talent being creative.
What I like about the NSSG video’s is that clearly every certified locksmith on it is proud of their shop or business. The advantage for the customer is that they can see who they are dealing with before calling. It is transparent and not all locksmiths are like that.
Transparent locksmith vs rogue locksmith
Nowadays there are a some rogue locksmiths that charge absurd prices for their ‘services’. After paying several hundred euros (sometimes way more than that) the companies seem not to be registered anywhere. With NSSG members you know the address of the company and who is the owner. Often the owners are the second or third generation locksmith and their fathers or grandfathers started the business. If there ever arises a problem, the NSSG has a special complaint service. So far there has been little to no complaints about NSSG locksmiths and their service / pricing.
For customers it is almost impossible to see the difference between a rogue locksmith and a good one on google. Who you call can have a huge impact on your personal safety. Cases are known where rogue locksmiths kept one of the keys to the new lock they installed. Besides charging an extreme price for the job, they came back a day later using the spare key! While installing the lock they noticed where the customer kept her cash. They came back the next night and took it. So know who you are dealing with, before calling a locksmith.
People often wonder if modern safes still can be cracked with a thermal lance. And how it is done.
We shot some video at a demonstration. Using the melting tip (that can heat up to 3500 degrees) the welder manages to open the safe with the content still intact. This may look simple but it is only due to craftsmanship he manages to succeed. He also has the advantage of working outside in an open space. If he would try the same in a closed office building it will for sure get very messy with the fumes and smoke. Still pretty impressive.