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Booby Traps and Locked-in Kids: An Interview with a Safecracker

While most of our articles focus on security of the digital sort, this interview with a professional safecracker is an interesting look the physical side of securing your goods.

As part of their Interviews with People Who Have Interesting or Unusual Jobs series over at McSweeney’s, they interviewed Ken Doyle, a professional a locksmithing and safecracking veteran with 30 years of industry experience. The interview is both entertaining and an interesting read. One of the more unusual aspects of safecracking he highlights:

Q: Do you ever look inside?
A: I NEVER look. It’s none of my business. Involving yourself in people’s private affairs can lead to being subpoenaed in a lawsuit or criminal trial. Besides, I’d prefer not knowing about a client’s drug stash, personal porn, or belly button lint collection.

When I’m done I gather my tools and walk to the truck to write my invoice. Sometimes I’m out of the room before they open it. I don’t want to be nearby if there is a booby trap.

Q: Why would there be a booby trap?
A: The safe owner intentionally uses trip mechanisms, explosives or tear gas devices to “deter” unauthorized entry into his safe. It’s pretty stupid because I have yet to see any signs warning a would-be culprit about the danger.

Over the years I’ve found several tear gas devices in safes and vaults I’ve opened. These devices were marketed with names like “BEAVER” and “BADGER.” There are safecrackers that collect them.

Hit up the link below for the full interview.

Ken Doyle – Safecracker [via BoingBoing]

Jason Fitzpatrick is warranty-voiding DIYer and all around geek. When he's not documenting mods and hacks he's doing his best to make sure a generation of college students graduate knowing they should put their pants on one leg at a time and go on to greatness, just like Bruce Dickinson. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 05/30/12

Comments (2)

  1. LadyFitzgerald

    Anyone who booby traps a safe without posting a warning is not doing it as a determent; they deliberately want to hurt, maim, or kill whoever broke in as a means of catching who did it, as an act of revenge, or both. A warning that the safe is booby trapped would be a far more effective as a deterent, even if the safe wasn’t actually boobytrapped (there is no way for the safecracker to know if the sign is accurate or not).

  2. Cirric

    Hi. In Saugus, MA there was a building with a neon sign that read “Gun Traps”. I do not remember a single instance of anyone testing out the sign. Nor anyone being shot. It worked!

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