Locksmithing/Safe Deposit


I am not asking a question but would like to help people that have a safe deposit key and don't know where the box is located.   I spent 39 years with Diebold doing safe and vault work and retired and for the last 5 years I drill safe deposit boxes for Arvest Bank and others.   What most people do not know is that after a period of time (usually 6 months or a year) the bank drills boxes for delinquent payment and they hold the contents for a period of time and then it has to be turned over to the state.   I would suggest that people find out where in state government these items are held.  Here in Arkansas it goes to the Sec. of State.   With proper ID one should be able to retrieve family content.

Hi David,

I'm not sure how your posting "helps" people that have a "Safe Deposit box key" locate "where" the box is located.
While I don't mind someone posting advice to provide help - stick to the topic and consider that the readership (especially for this site) encompasses people from all over the world.   Giving advice specific to Arkansas, doesn't help a reader who may be in Germany, South Africa or Australia, and where banking regulations may be totally different.    

Your original topic concerned "helping people find safe deposit boxes when they have a key, but don't know where it goes"!   Not locating items that were transferred to a state office for holding, after accounts were closed for delinquency.   If this was the purpose of your post, then you should have led off with THAT item and NOT a distractor - like locating a safe deposit box after you find a key.

As you have been working in he industry for probably as many years as I have, then you know that there is/are no records that can track WHERE ANY particular safe deposit box is located, simply by finding a safe deposit box key.

In many cases the original keys are stamped with a serial number.    When people locate a key belonging to a family member (possibly deceased), they generally want to know where to go to find the box.    In probably just as many cases safe deposit box keys are not stamped with serial numbers.  
Some banks or financial institutions MAY stamp THEIR keys with the actual box number, but again, there are no records that indicated WHAT bank THAT particular key belongs to.

As far as records for serial numbers and the associated locks, locks are installed randomly, not by serial number, and there are "NO" records anywhere that indicate where (or to what institution) that lock wound up.

While your advice concerning checking with what ever "state department" that holds onto or maintains the records for items which were turned over, after banks opened boxes for delinquency, is relevant and good advice, it has nothing to do with your opening statement.

Better advice would have been - "IF" you find a safe deposit box key belonging to a relative, whether deceased or simply that you have custody over (trust or estate, etc.), and you don't know where the key goes:

1.  Begin by checking all of the relatives records and/or paper work to determine WHAT banks they may have dealt with over the years.
2.  They need to have control over the estate as either the executor or legal authority to act on behalf of the relative, to contact those institutions to find out what types of accounts may exist - including the safe deposit box.
3.  If you cannot locate possible financial institutions, or records indicate that accounts were closed out due to delinquency, banks that you check with can usually give you the address or contact info for the State office which has control of, and/or where all of these items are sent.
4.  Contact that state office to do a records check for your relative.

As far as having "proper ID" - again, this is only a partial truth.   Generally you are still going to have to have legal authority to act on behalf of your family member, either as the executor of their estate, or as the legal guardianship authority.

Requirements may vary from state to state, so check with an attorney in the state in question to find out what your legal obligations and/or requirements are.

Thanks for offering your help, and giving me an opportunity to answer a misconception about the safe deposit box keys and numbers stamped on them.   This is a customer issue that does pop up on a very regular basis, and does occasionally need to be re-addressed.

Unfortunately "MOVIE" perpetuated myths about key serial numbers and key codes and "DEFAULT" combinations, persists which makes our jobs more difficult.  


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Terry V. Andreasen (Andy)


Safe and Vault related Questions; Antique Safe Repair and Restoration; With over 42 years in the Safe & Vault industry, if I can't answer your question I know where to get the answer. Current Project: Restoration of an Ely Norris Cannonball Safe from the early 1900's. Will answer Safe & Vault related questions concerning age, value, restoration, moving, opening & repairing, parts, operation and history. Note: It is not my intention to teach you to open safes or to provide information which may aid in the unlawful opening of a safe. I will not give out drill points or information which I deem inappropriate.


44 years in the Safe & Vault Industry. Owner and Service Manager for one of the largest Safe & Vault companies on the West Coast. Graduate of Lockmasters Safe Lock Servicing, Safe lock Manipulation and Safe Deposit Lock Courses. Graduate of Locksmith Institute. Certified Instructor for the California Locksmith Association teaching Basic and Advanced Lock Servicing, Basic Safe opening and Repairing. Factory Trained by AMSEC, LORD Safes, LeFebure, Mosler, KabaMas, LaGard and Sargent & Greenleaf Author of "The Coffee Table Guide to Antique Safes".

SafeCrackers International and the National Antique Safe Association Safe & Vault Technicians Association (SAVTA)

The Coffee Table Guide to Antique Safes AllExperts.com

Graduate of Locksmith Institute 1972 Graduate Lockmasters Safe Lock Servicing 1974 Graduate Lockmasters Safe Lock Manipulation 1975 Graduate Lockmasters Safe Deposit Lock Servicing 1985 Instructor Certified - California Locksmith Association - 1985 Factory trained by AMSEC, MAJOR, STAR, Johnson-Pacific, Kaba-MAS, Allied-Gary, ISM, Lord, Brown Safe, EXL, Mosler, Diebold.

Awards and Honors
2009 - 2015 - Listed in AllExperts Top 50 Experts. All Expert Categories - Safes & Security Containers, Locksmithing, Antique Safes. Retired US Army Chief Warrant Officer (CW4), with 39 years of total service. With numerous awards from Vietnam, Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom. US Navy - 1971-1981 US Army Reserve 1984-2013 US Army Retired

Past/Present Clients
US Secret Service, FBI, BATF, Local Law enforcment agencies, Diebold, Hamilton Pacific, Red Hawk Int., Chubb International, Bank of America, Wells Fargo Bank, Mechanics Bank, El Dorado Savings Bank, many Credit unions and smaller banks. McDonalds, Togos, BurgerKing, TacoBell, Carls Jr. FoodMaxx, SaveMart, Lucky's, Albertson's, Raley's, Safeway, NobHill, Bell Markets, PW Markets. Great America, Century Theatres, Cinemark Theatres, UA Cinemas, and many homeowners and small businesses. Provide warranty service for lock and safe manufactures. Service Area is Northern California (Fresno to Oregon and Western Nevada)

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