The History of Safe Cracking


Safe cracking is the art of opening a safe without the use of a key or combination. It’s a practice that has been around for centuries and has been glamorized in movies and television shows. In this article, we’ll explore the history of safe cracking, including its origins, methods, and famous safecrackers.

Origins of Safe Cracking

The origins of safe cracking can be traced back to the invention of the safe itself. In the 18th and 19th centuries, safes were typically made of cast iron and were secured with combination locks. These locks were often simple and could be easily cracked by skilled thieves.

As safes became more sophisticated, so did the methods used to crack them. In the 20th century, safecrackers began using drills, explosives, and other tools to gain access to the contents of the safe.

Methods of Safe Cracking

There are several methods that safecrackers use to open a safe, including:

  1. Drilling: Safecrackers use a drill to create a hole in the safe, which allows them to manipulate the lock mechanism.
  2. Dial manipulation: Safecrackers use a stethoscope to listen for the sound of the tumblers falling into place as they manipulate the combination dial.
  3. Scoping: Safecrackers use a small camera, known as a scope, to peek inside the safe and see the lock mechanism.
  4. Explosives: In extreme cases, safecrackers may use explosives to blow open the safe.

Famous Safecrackers

Over the years, there have been many famous safecrackers who have gained notoriety for their skills. Here are a few of the most well-known safecrackers in history:

  1. Charles Peace: A notorious burglar and safecracker in the 19th century, Charles Peace was known for his ability to open safes with ease. He was eventually caught and sentenced to death.
  2. Red Rudensky: A Russian-born safecracker who worked in the United States, Rudensky was known for his ability to open the most complex safes. He was eventually caught and served time in prison.
  3. James Corbett: A safecracker in the early 20th century, Corbett was known for his ability to open safes using nitroglycerin. He eventually retired from safecracking and became a consultant to law enforcement agencies.
  4. A.J. Stow: A safecracker who worked in the 1950s and 60s, Stow was known for his ability to open the most complex safes using a drill and other tools. He eventually retired and became a consultant to the FBI.

Types of Safes

Combination safesUses a combination lock for security
Key safesUses a key for security
Biometric safesUses biometric authentication such as fingerprints or facial recognition
Electronic safesUses electronic locks for security
Fireproof safesProvides protection against fire and heat damage


The history of safe cracking is a fascinating one, with roots dating back to the invention of the safe itself. Over the years, safecrackers have used a variety of methods to open safes, from dial manipulation to explosives. While safecracking is illegal, it remains an intriguing topic and has been the subject of many books, movies, and television shows. Whether you have a combination safe, key safe, biometric safe, electronic safe, or fireproof safe, it’s important to choose a secure safe to protect your valuables

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