Q: How did you learn to be a safecracker?
A: In 1978 I took a correspondence course to learn the basics of locksmithing. The ad in the Popular Mechanics classifieds said, â€œBe your own boss.â€
The course consisted of about 70 lessons. Iâ€™d study each lesson and practice the particular skill required, like how to fit a key, lock disassembly, rekeying, etc.
Q: What does it mean to fit a key?
A: This is only one of a dozen basic locksmith skills. You insert a blank key, wiggle it while turning and the bumping action creates marks on the key blade. You file where the marks are until the key turns in the lock. Itâ€™s also known as â€œimpressioning.â€
Q: It seems like you could use this knowledge in bad ways if you wanted to.
A: Clients often ask, jokingly, whether we learn our trade in prison.
Technically, the biggest difference between what a burglar does and what I do is that the burglar wants to get in and out quickly and doesnâ€™t care if the safe ever gets used again. I take my time because my objective is opening it with minimal damage so the owner can use it again.
A criminal safecracker also needs different knowledge and skills, beyond the technical, that I donâ€™t have or need. I donâ€™t need to know how to avoid leaving evidence, circumvent an alarm system, plan a get-away, or fence-stolen goods.