If you have ever come across a safe or vault and wondered what’s inside then you are like many others in being intrigued by the mystery behind cracking safes. Coming across an antique safe and cracking it to find “buried treasure” so to speak has spawned a niche within an industry, safe cracking. Ask any safecracker and they will tell you it is an art form and they live for the sound of the “clink” of a successfully cracked safe. There are many famous examples of safe cracking old safes with big media attention. The most notable is Al Capone’s secret vault which was opened on live television to a record 30 million viewers. Another is the Astoria Oregon Fish Cannery safe.
This safe was found by cannery owner Floyd Holcom. The safe was over 100 years old and it took almost two years for the safe to be successfully opened. The local media built up the story and it attracted the media hype that is similar to a celebrity scandal. This story, however, doesn’t end once the safe was cracked. Everyone in Astoria was excited to find out what was in the safe that took so long to open. Typically in these situations, the contents are revealed immediately. Once the safe was cracked the contents were revealed to only those who saw it firsthand. The general public waited 14 days until an official statement was released detailing the contents of the safe. It was revealed to be nothing more than canned fish. So why did the representatives at the cannery wait that long to tell the public? No one knows, but I’d be willing to bet there might be more than just canned fish in that safe. People all over are finding old safes and making their attempts to crack it public. There is even a popular television show called Safecrackers where three professional locksmiths buy old safes and crack them just to claim the contents. The mystery of what’s inside will never die away because people will always be attracted to the unknown even if the attempted cracking yields empty results.
After all, Capone’s safe turned up nothing more than an empty moonshine bottle and the cannery safe had nothing more than canned fish. These empty results may seem disappointing but long locked away in the safes they were gold bars and diamonds to the outside imagination. There are the few safes however that yields surprising finds. One vault in a New Jersey town hall had historical documents money and transcriptions in it that are displayed in the local museum. Though, nothing of actual sellable value the mystery was solved to the satisfaction of the locals. No matter where they are found or the story behind them all of these safes have one common feature, time. They were clearly built to withstand anything time can throw at them. They were built with a solid steel design and virtually indestructible. This goes to show you that for every fizzled empty mystery time will sprout a new one. Old antique safes will continue to be the things of fascination and go down in history books as one of mankind’s greatest places to hide valuables.