Security flaw: Top selling line of safes vulnerable to thieves
Published Monday, November 30, 2015 6:00AM PST Last Updated Monday, November 30, 2015 7:41PM PST
A security flaw in a line of top selling safes makes them easy to break into. The issue is that the safes are not security safes but fire protection safes –something many people may not know.
CTV News tested two different fire SentrySafe models, SFW123GTF and SFW123FTC. Security expert Terry Whin-Yates demonstrated how easily they could be compromised, breaking into them in just a few seconds.
The locking mechanism contains an iron pin which can be moved to the unlock position using a rare-earth magnet.
“There’s no sign of entry, there’s no physical evidence and there’s no electronic evidence either,” says Terry Whin-Yates also known as Mr. Locksmith.
The SentrySafe models we tested are not meant to thwart burglars. They’re meant to keep your valuables and documents safe in case of fire.
SentrySafe has acknowledged the vulnerability but says it has “never received a report that any safe has ever been unlawfully compromised by any type of magnet in the field.” And the company told CTV News, it “believes it would realistically very difficult, if not impossible, for the average person to unlawfully access this line of fire or water electronic safe.”
However, we were able to do it with a few seconds of training. Whin-Yates says anyone can acquire that information quite easily on the Internet.
SentrySafe is now working on a home fix to make this line of fire safes more secure. In the meantime, they’re directing customers to a page on their website where they can put in their safe serial number to see if it’s vulnerable to thieves.
If you’re buying a safe, look for the UL rated security labels. UL stands for Underwrites Laboratories which is the preeminent, independent testing laboratory in the U.S. Some safes may contain UL ratings for both fire and security or just one or the other. Whin-Yates says a good safe can cost more than $1,000 - but when it comes to your valuables it may be worth it.
He suggests looking for safes that can also be bolted to floors and walls. He also recommends you check with your insurance company to make sure your safe meets their requirements for coverage of high end valuables in the event of theft or fire.