Is Your Box Safe? Not all of them are….

New stories focused on safe deposit boxes portend box holders incurring a life-altering loss of valuables or irreplaceable family heirlooms. It is devastating and unexpected. In instances like those in New York where criminals cut their way into bank vaults, at least the cause is known. More recent events, while no less devastating to box holders are more difficult to understand and accept.

At multiple banks around the country, box holders opened their box to find their valuables gone. The banks had not reported a burglary; the locks on the box were intact and working, nothing was different, yet their valuables were not in the box. How could this happen? 

It is important to recognize; the vault itself and the access control procedures provide the primary security for the valuables in the box. The locks on the box offer minimal resistance. Anyone with a $10 tool bought online can pick the box locks and with some practice become fast and efficient at it. With 10 minutes of unsupervised access to the vault, a thief can easily open and replace 7 or 8 boxes, carrying the valuables out in a standard briefcase.

Today, particularly at large, national or super-regional banks, the number of staff at a branch, their experience, and training are less than what they were a decade ago, significantly increasing the likelihood of someone gaining unfettered access to the vault.

For example, the regional facilities VP for the bank emails a manager telling him someone is coming into one of his branches to service the vault. The manager emails the assistant manager at the branch. Since the assistant manager is scheduled to be off, he then directs one of the two people at the branch that day to give the vendor access to the vault.

The vendor presents himself and is quickly escorted into the vault by a staff member. There are 4 people waiting in line to transact business, so the bank staff leaves to attend to the customers. He returns 20 minutes later. Nothing looks wrong. The vendor completes the work and leaves. Months later customers discover their boxes have been emptied. In his rush, the 24-year old branch staffer neglected to get the name of the individual from the vendor.

Does this mean your boxes are inherently unsafe? No. Statistics do not lie. You are over 40 times more likely to have your valuables stolen or destroyed at your home or business than when in a safe deposit box at a bank. Law enforcement from the FBI to your local police department all recommend using a safe deposit box over home storage.

But there are steps you can take to minimize the risk of loss to the contents of your safe deposit box: 

  • Visit your box at least once every three months.
  • Use your smartphone to take pictures of the property in the box when you are in the private viewing area each time you visit the box. 
  • If it always seems like there is new staff at your branch and it is fairly easy to access the safe deposit box area, ask to speak with a supervisor or manager.  Advise him of your concerns and see if they do anything to change the situation. If not, look for another bank, a different branch or a SecurePlus accredited private vault to rent a box.
  • And of course, carry insurance on your box to protect against losses. 

As with many things, being proactive typically leads to a better result. 

We are changing the way people insure their valuables. Secure storage with our insurance is safer and far less expensive. It is why we were awarded a patent. So if you have questions, just call us. We will be happy to answer, with no high-pressure selling, another characteristic that differentiates us from other insurance entities