An expert lock picker reveals the trick that makes many hotel safes essentially useless.

Stacey Leasca
January 28, 2018

If you thought putting your valuables inside a hotel safe ensured their security, you might be wrong. In fact, according to one lock picking expert, those tiny boxes do little to guarantee your prized possessions' safety.

In a two-minute video clip uploaded to YouTube, the "LockPickingLawyer" shows just how easy it would be for a thief to get into a Saflok safe, one of the industry’s most ubiquitous safes.

After putting a bottle of 16-year-old scotch whiskey in the safe, the LockPickingLawyer enters his personal code and the safe locks. He then enters the wrong code to prove the safe works.

However, he then notes that the hotel never reset the administrator code, which can open any safe at any time. Once the LockPickingLawyer enters “super user” mode and puts in the code (999999), the safe immediately opens.

“If you’re ever in a hotel that has one of these Saflok products and you need to use it to lock up some of your valuables, it might be a good idea to make sure the hotel reset the administrator password before relying on it to protect your goods,” he said.

Of course, material goods aren’t the only things you want to keep safe in a hotel room. If you want to ensure your family’s safety while staying in a hotel, Rob Walker, head of information and analysis for travel security at London-based International SOS, suggests booking a room between the second and fifth floor of a hotel. That way, he says, the room is high enough to protect from burglars, but low enough that if you needed to jump during a fire, emergency or other disaster, you could do so with relative safety.

“We also recommend travelers request rooms on the side of the building further away from the lobby, which is likely to be the main entry point for any attacker,” Walker said. “It is preferable to also choose the side away from other public areas, such as hotel restaurants, as those areas can be a target area, and rooms that are not easily accessed from the street, so as not to be an easy target for criminals. Yet, ideally it is good to be near the emergency exit stairs.”

Furthermore, Drew Drew Dwyer, an ex-CIA operative, suggests going through a multi-point checklist to ensure your room is safe. That includes keeping the blinds drawn at all times in your hotel room, keeping a light on when you're not in the room, displaying the Do Not Disturb sign when you're out, and keep a flashlight a short distance from the bed just in case you need it. This way, you may actually be able to relax and, you know, enjoy your vacation.

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