If you have been to a movie in the past fifty years, you have seen a wall safe in use. Normally, there is a picture hanging on a wall that is moved to reveal the hidden safe. Putting aside the fact that they are very cool for a moment, are they really any more secure than a regular floor safe. The answer is a complex one because variables such as the burglary resistance rating, and the locations were it is installed come into play.
Hiding locations – A wall safe is normally installed between the studs that make up the wall. Since every room in your home has at least one wall, there are unlimited locations where they can be installed. Your ability to hide the safe will have a huge impact on the actual security that it provides.
Normally, in movies, we find them installed behind picture frames, so guess where a burglar will look first. The method of concealment must give the casual observer the impression that the object in question is solid and permanent. Anything that can be moved and checked probably will be …so painting or wall hung mirrors are out.
Instead of picture frame, how about using a built in bookcase with a spring-loaded access panel, or how about the back of a broom cupboard concealed by a removable wall section. These two suggestions may ad a few hundred dollars to the installation cost, but they will increase the actual protection offered a thousand fold. You are only limited by your imagination.
Protection levels – The protection ratings on a wall safe are no different than on floor standing models. They start at burglary resistant, which means being able to resist common household tools such as hammers and screwdrivers, and in theory can go up to one that has a TL-30.
At this point, a little clarification is needed. When we talk of a TL-30 safe, we are speaking about a serious piece of work. It means that if you allowed a professional burglar to bring the proper safe cracking tools, and gave him a solid 30 minutes to work on the safe, he would not be able to open it.
A wall safe at this burglary resistance level would be prohibitively heavy and probably could not be installed between standard wall studs, which is why they tend to have less burglary resistance when compared to floor models.
The weakness – The real weakness of a wall safe is not its burglary protection level, but the actual weight of the unit. A burglar is working on a deadline and will not waste precious minutes trying to open a safe; he is not sure he can open.
However, they may decide to rip it from the wall and have it opened somewhere else. And since these wall models weigh less than one hundred pounds, it can be done by two adults easily.
Brains over brawn – Your average criminal will normally spend less than twenty minutes in your home. This is assuming that you have no alarm system, or that it has been bypassed. The second he enters your home the countdown starts because he knows the risk of getting caught increases by the minute.
A properly hidden wall safe could take a professional days to find, depending on the size of your home, and how clever you were in its concealment. If I were a betting man, I would wager that the only way a burglar could possibly find yours in the time that he has to work with would be if someone told him where to look.