Hello, I have been looking all over the internet for the past few days trying to find any information on a old(er) Mosler safe I found in the basement of a house I bought this month. I have read several of your previous post and was able to locate numbers on the ball of the handle. The numbers are 242114. There is a picture on the front of the safe. I can not find any other information other then the numbers and it says Mosler Safe Co. and Mosler patent. I did notice a white sicker with red writing saying that this safe is equipped with Non-Deteriorating tear gas Exclusively distributors Star Safe Protector Co. P.O. box number and state. This last part is what has me a little concerned. Would you by any chance have any other information in regards to this safe?
Answer Hi Kay,
With a serial number of 242114 your safe would have been made between 1913-1915, so it would be considered an antique safe - over 100 years old.
The tear gas part should have you concerned for several reasons, the least of are the potential legal implications. While prior to about 1980 it was legal to own Tear Gas, after 1980 it became at a minimum a misdemeanor in some states and a felony in others. Having the device attached to the safe is considered "booby trapping", which is a felony in most states. Check your local, state and federal laws to see how this may effect you.
I would check your legal rights as you've indicated you just purchased the house, but the previous owner may be responsible for any costs associated with the removal of the device. You may want to discuss this with your real estate agent.
As mentioned the minimum concerns are the legal issues - more importantly are the health and safety issues. If the device is broken, anyone in the room and possibly house with breathing or health issues may have extremely severe reactions. The tear gas affects all mucus membranes and can cause severe reactions and breathing problems. While I can't tell you what to do, I can make some recommendations for you to consider.
1. DIY. I don't recommend removal and disposal of the device by you or a family member. While the gas is contained in a glass vial (or vials), as long as the glass isn't broken it poses no risk. Disposal by breaking the glass in a well ventilated area like a gravel pit will allow it to dissipate very quickly posing no risks. If the vials break during removal or transport it can remain potent in enclosed areas like rooms or cars for several weeks. Any contact can lead to severe reactions.
Again, I don't recommend your making this a DIY project. Also, by leaving it attached to the safe, you would be subject to any and/or all of the legal issues mentioned.
2. Have it removed by police or fire department. Note: They WILL take this very seriously and may show up with a HAZMAT team and/or a bomb disposal team. Besides any legal issues, you may wind up with the bill for their services and clean ups.
3. Have it removed by a trained safe technician from a local safe company. Many smaller companies will probably refuse the work, but the larger companies may have a safe tech who is familiar with these devices. We also usually have contacts with local police, fire or HAZMAT teams and can dispose of it without any legal issues coming back to you. Cost would be what ever the Safe company charges you.
Hopefully this gives you some options and ideas. If you have any further questions, please feel free to run it by me BEFORE doing it, as afterwards its not as much a question as it is crying over spilt milk - or in this case tear gas!
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