Films about cracking safes and bank heists have been a Hollywood staple since the conception of the movie industry. From the legendary Oceans Eleven and The Italian Job, films about a band of accomplices cracking safes have drawn crowds to the movies and have garnered modest success. Are these films representative of reality? Are safes that easy to crack? What about the fantastical laser instruments and high-end code cracking computers that are used to crack the said safes? We’ll have a look at these idiosyncrasies and examine whether there are any parallels between Hollywood fiction and reality in regards to the mechanics of safes and their ease of infiltration.

In Oceans 11, a group of individuals plan a heist at three Las Vegas casinos simultaneously. To inspire confidence, they build a replica safe and hone their skills on this safe. On the day of the heist, the team prepares an array of safe crackers, some of which include a bomb-like device that emits an electromagnetic pulse, which in turn fries the safe circuitry. Realistically speaking, most modern safes are fitted with top-notch electrical systems. On top of that, most real-world safes are fitted with a security code change facility that is virtually not substantially affected electromagnetically by someone possessing such safe unlocking contraptions. If one does not possess the PIN, then it is virtually impossible to open a real-world safe.

In 2003’s Italian job, a crop of criminals attempt to crack open a safe by bombing it. They are successful, and manage to drive away with the contents of the safe. Most modern safes are built to withstand temperatures of up to 950 degrees Celsius for up to an hour at a time. This provides them with the necessary heat resistance, keeping contents protected. Bombing a safe creates heat and pressure, and thanks to the layers of steel that most safe doors and bodies are made of, destruction by heat is not a possibility.

Other features that make modern safes impenetrable include timed locks, programmable PIN access and drop impact resistance. Safes come in a variety of specifications, depending on the items that are to be stored in them. Some safes are waterproof, while others are fireproof. Others contain spring latches that hermetically seal the safe even when it is unlocked. Yet others contain combo locks, which mean that they offer double protection due to the double-pronged key lock feature. Modern safes may come with pre-drilled holes and fixing bolts that allow one to anchor them in hard-to reach and hidden places, where they can only be accessed by the original owners. While shopping for a safe, please keep in mind the items you want to have protected, and choose one that offers the required safety features. Also, it is a good idea to seek out insurance for your items well before getting a safe. At the end of the day, these safe facts just go to show that Hollywood movies that portray the ease in which safes can be compromised are just a figment of the imagination of some pretty creative screenwriters.