In 2013 a redditor called nochains stumbled upon a dusty old safe in a vacated strip-mall office. According to the landlord, who had hired nochains to clear the disused room, there was basically nothing suspicious about the former tenant. “The guy didn’t seem like a Nazi or anything,” wrote nochains. “Apparently he was just a normal dude. Nobody has seen him in a while…”
In fact, the mystery tenant had skipped out on paying three months’ rent. “I’m sure he wasn’t planning on leaving this behind,” wrote nochains, referring to the safe. “But the locks on the door got changed and his loss became my fun new find.” However, there was just one small problem.
“It was locked, of course,” wrote nochains, who documented his safe-cracking misadventures on the image-sharing website imgur. “With God as my witness, I will get in this safe,” he wrote. Little did he know, though, that he would still be struggling with it a whole week later.
In fact, it could have been so easy, but after unscrewing the keypad, nochains decided to short the green wire with the yellow wire. “Nothing happened,” he wrote. “And now the keypad doesn’t respond AT ALL. And to make things worse… I noticed the COMBINATION WAS WRITTEN ON ONE OF THE OLD BATTERIES.” Oops.
nochains added, “So apparently not only is the KEYPAD dead, but the solenoid is also dead. Hot-wiring it produced nada… Okay, now I’m starting to get angry…” Oh dear, you don’t want to make nochains angry – you wouldn’t like him when he’s angry. Come on Hulk, channel that rage and bust that thing open straightaway.
However, despite the repeated application of brute force, the little safe refused to yield. What next? C-4 or thermite? Or something altogether more conventional? “Using a hammer didn’t work,” wrote nochains. “But by George a crowbar sure will…” Good idea – get to it, man!
At this point, however, it should be noted that forcing open a locked safe isn’t necessarily the wisest thing to do. In 2013, for instance, another imgur user opened an abandoned safe to find a live hand-grenade hanging from the inside of the door. Luckily, he had shorted the keypad to get into it and no one was hurt.
Still, it’s a little late to worry about booby traps now. So nochains simply put his back into it. “There’s definitely something wondrous inside,” he wrote. “It sounds like lots and lots of coins.” Well, given all that hard work, you’d hope that those coins turned out to be gold.
“This little safe is putting up a crazy fight,” he wrote. And then, at last, he managed to lever open the door. “WE GOT IT!!!” he announced. “The safe is OPEN!!!” Finally – and it only took a whole week of trying. Just look at how mangled that thing is!
“Uh-oh boys,” he wrote. “I think we’ve got something here… From first glance I see some books, some big-ass dinosaur teeth, a bunch of pennies, and some Nazi stuff… Oooooookay…” It certainly sounded like quite the haul, – let’s take a closer look.
“I definitely did NAZI that coming,” wrote nochains. Hidden in the safe was a stash of Nazi memorabilia, which, if genuine, might have had historical and monetary value. However, the misspelled name “Adolph Hitler” on one of the items did not bode well in terms of authenticity – and according to redditor Superplaner most of the items appeared to be fake.
Not to worry, though, the “big ass dinosaur teeth” seemed to be genuine. In fact, according to the hive mind of reddit, they come from a prehistoric megalodon shark, and, depending on their condition, they might fetch up to $100 each. The Virtual Boy game cartridge was also a historical oddity and was used in a now-obsolete Nintendo game system, which was released in the 1990s.
The intriguing tin of mushrooms might have just been a stash can in disguise, but one commenter on imgur had a much better explanation. “Simple,” wrote (the aptly named) TotalSmartAss. “The can is there for added space. When all the other items were in the safe there wasn’t mushroom for anything else.”
On a more sinister note, this ugly metal plate may once have been worn by a slave for the purposes of identification. It reads, “Red Bone Lane, Jigaboo Slave, Taylers Farm, Columbia SC, 1845.” It seemed to be consistent with the owner’s apparently grim interest in Nazi memorabilia, but several redditors also thought that it was a fake.
“Dates go back to the 1860s!” wrote nochains, referring to these coins. Yep, these are so-called Indian Head pennies. They might have been worth something depending on their condition, and when and where they were minted. After all, most circulated pennies seem to fetch around $7 each, but the rarest uncirculated pennies are worth up to $30,000.
“Three empty books,” declared the redditor. “The books have some strange waxy paper strips attached to each page.” Hmm, that did sound strange. However, on closer examination, the books were not quite as empty as they first seemed. What nochains found next might be described as the “mother lode.”
“Apparently, I was WRONG about the books,” wrote the safe cracker. “Only one of them was empty.” In fact, the two other books were filled with untold postage stamps (and those “strange waxy paper strips” were undoubtedly for affixing them).
There was page after page of colorful stamps – hundreds upon hundreds, all carefully collected and in apparently pristine condition. NSAgent, a commenter on imgur, quipped, “With all those stamps, [nochains] can finally deliver.” Honestly, do puns get any better than that?
So, is the collection worth anything? As a matter of fact, yes. According to redditor mccune68, “While most of the pictures you have posted are of ones which are quite common, this page gives me a philatelic boner. If those are all mint, that page right there is worth several hundred dollars, if not several thousand.”
All in all, then, a rather eclectic but worthy haul. While the original owner of these items may have looked like a “normal dude,” his private interests appear to have been anything but. After all, it’s not every day that you meet a Nazi-obsessed stamp collector with a penchant for retro games consoles and tinned mushrooms.
One thing is for certain, though: if the safe nochains discovered had been made by Mosler, it might have been even more difficult to crack. The manufacturer, you see, is infamous for its precision and security. So, when one skillful locksmith managed to break his way into one, it was rather incredible to watch. And the treasure inside was nothing short of extraordinary, too.
Spacious on the inside and impregnable from the outside, the safe was solid and weighty – a real monster of a box. Indeed, opening its thick metal door would take some serious work. But when a safe cracker who goes by the name of “unkapier” did finally gain to access to its interior, he was richly rewarded.
“I’m a locksmith,” wrote unkapier in 2014 on the image-sharing website Imgur. “Got to open this safe today,” he added as he shared photos of his exploit. And what a safe it was. Now defunct, the Mosler Safe Company used to manufacture boxes and bank vaults from 1874 to the turn of the 21st century.
In fact, Mosler vaults were renowned for their impenetrability. For example, during the Second World War Mosler vaults installed in Mitsui Bank in Hiroshima, Japan, even survived the atomic bomb. They just don’t make ’em like that anymore.
Indeed, after the war Mosler’s reputation earned it numerous high-profile contracts. Working for the U.S. government, the company manufactured doors for missile silos and other security features. The company even built the vault once used to display the U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence.
Curiously, the masterwork behind the vault technology was a 138-ton blast door. Installed at the Atomic Energy Commission’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, it was considered the largest and heaviest door of its type in the world. And yet it could be manually opened by just one person. Kudos.
Clearly, the safe that unkapier had been contracted to work on wasn’t quite as heavy duty. However, the mark of Mosler likely meant that he had his work cut out. And so gathering his tools, he began the laborious task of penetrating the vault’s door. First, he set to work on the solid brass combination dial.
So far so good; unkapier managed to open the door with minimal fuss. However, quite how he did it remains a mystery. Though, we can guess as there are many methods for opening a locked safe. Options include, for example, weak-point drilling and brute force. However, the ease with which he got inside suggests that he may have worked out the combination.
Such a feat isn’t as extraordinary as it sounds. Many safe owners, after all, never change their manufacturer-set combination. Of course, this makes the vault more vulnerable, as anyone could, in theory, look up the combination. All that is needed is the safe’s model number and manufacturer.
Intriguingly, and perhaps counterintuitively, unkapier began dismantling the safe after he got it open. Stripping away a red metal panel, he exposed the lock mechanisms embedded inside the door. Unlike cheap modern safes, which often rely on electronics, everything here looked sturdy and reliable.
Curiously, there were several numbers etched into the interior of the apparently cement-coated door. It is tempting to assume that the numbers refer to the try-out combination. Of course, with the door open, unkapier didn’t need them anymore.
Meanwhile, the lock mechanism itself consisted of two heavy-duty sliding bars. With those clenched in place, the box was surely impenetrable. Which begs the question, what exactly did this safe contain? And when was the last time anyone opened it?
Sadly, unkapier did not divulge any information about the safe’s previous owner. Exactly who they might have been, where they came from or how they happened to own the antique safe are details missing from his account. However, it is safe to say (no pun intended, ahem) that the box still contained a trove of precious possessions.
Unfortunately though, unkapier would not be able to lay his hands on them just yet. For beyond the main door was a second door, apparently locked and inaccessible. Furthermore, it was now clear that the safe’s volume was not as large as its exterior had suggested. Indeed, the walls were several inches thick.
Of course, unkapier is a professional and he got it open in no time. Behind the second door, several drawers appeared – a good place for jewelry, documents or other precious keepsakes. What a fantastic job he has, opening real-life treasure chests every day.
And naturally, for a locksmith such as unkapier, the locks themselves are precious treasure. Here, he has removed the brass lock from the inner door and photographed its workings for us to admire. Great stuff, but what about the loot? The safe did contain something of value, didn’t it?
Well, sadly, judging from this picture, there was nothing at all inside the safe. It seems that after all that hard work, the safe was vacant, hollow… nothing more than an intricately secured empty box. Just kidding. Actually, there was a lot of good stuff in there. Lots of valuable stuff.
For what could be more valuable than cold, hard cash? Roughly estimating, the safe seemed to contain a few hundred dollars, which is better than nothing. With luck, it might even have covered unkapier’s locksmith fees. And don’t forget the loose change – always handy.
Still, there was more to the story. On closer inspection, the bills themselves turned out to be quite interesting. Among them were stacks of very old $2 bills, considered the rarest domination in U.S. currency. They are legal tender and constitute around one percent of all notes in circulation.
Unfortunately, however, and despite their scarcity, $2 bills generally aren’t worth anything more than their face value. Still, with time, they may appreciate and one day become collectable. Perhaps until then, it would be best to keep them bills in a safe place.
Meanwhile, with the box opened and its contents removed, our story comes to an end. Many thanks to unkapier for giving us a close-up glimpse of the inner workings of a Mosler safe. All in a day’s work!