Economy, ID theft has more people buying safeson May 9, 2012 @ 5:21 am (Updated: 10:49 am - 5/9/12 )
Five years ago the typical safe buyer was likely a gun owner, someone looking to store their weapons and keep them away from their children.
Today, the average buyer is someone worried about the economy or worried about identity theft. Thomas Lambert, a locksmith at Bulger Safe and Lock in Seattle, says safe sales have exploded.
"Dramatically," he said. "When I first started doing this line of work, I was lucky enough to sell a safe every few months or so. Now it seems like every week they're just flying out the door."
Some retailers put the nationwide jump in safe sales at 40 percent.
David Ballestrasse owns Northwest Safe in Enumclaw. He says his customers are worried about protecting their identities, their important documents and even prescription medicines.
"There's such a rash of burglaries that we're hearing about. People are scared," he said. "They're wanting to protect [their possessions], whether it's cash or memorabilia, gold, silver, other precious metals, jewelry."
But just because it's called a safe doesn't mean it is safe. You get what you pay for.
Experts say don't go cheap. A lot of $100 models you find at chain stores can be broken into with a screwdriver. Ballestrasse said even the bigger safes that cost a few hundred dollars can be opened with a pry bar.
"The $395 safe, the $599 safe, if your goal is to keep your children or your grandchildren out of your firearm, it's a great choice," he said. "If your goal is to give you really good fire protection or high-end security for your valuables, it's not realistic."
The more expensive the safe, the better the protection they say.
Around $500 seems to be the low end if you want to give yourself a chance against thief with a crow bar or axe.
If you're considering a safe for your home, you want to avoid simple mistakes first-time safe buyers often make.
The first is going cheap, but the biggest mistake safe buyers make, Ballestrasse said, is going small.
"They look big, and then you get them home," he said. "You see all this other stuff. You might be getting your socks out of drawer one day and there's this small thing in there and, ah well we'll throw that into the safe, and pretty soon it's full. I've gone through it. Everybody here has gone through it."
The most popular safes at his shop are five feet tall and 30 inches wide.
And safes can be much more than a giant steel box in the corner. They can come in all shapes and sizes and be hidden just about anywhere, like in furniture or behind cabinets or in the floor.
"We get a lot of in-floor safes," Lambert said. Hidden wall safes are also popular. You can spend thousands of dollars on a custom job too. Some people are even buying custom vault doors to seal-off entire rooms.
The final piece of advice for a safe buyer is be sure to bolt your safe to the floor. There's nothing worse than spending $1000 on a safe only to have a thief wheel it out your front door.
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