Locksmiths say there are ways of cracking open safes
Locksmiths say owners should also use other security measures
A safe at Pasir Panjang Wholesale Centre was recently broken into and almost $500,000 was stolen.
Two men, aged 23 and 35 and who hold Vietnamese passports, were charged for their suspected involvement in the crime.
So how safe are safes?
Mr Melvin Tan, 48, owner of Singapore Locksmith Services, said there have been many instances where he has received a request to open a safe - but the safe did not belong to the requestor.
In a phone interview with The New Paper, Mr Tan said: "As a locksmith, I abide by a strict code of ethics to make sure that I open the safe for the right person."
He checks the identity card of the requestor before he carries on with his work during home or office visits.
He said: "I'll also ask them what's the content of the safe before opening it.
"Owners of the safes always answer without hesitation and with a slight sense of urgency. "
The locksmith of 25 years also explained the various ways to unlock a safe without cutting it open.
One technique involves using a ear amplifier and graph papers in a very quiet room.
"In the movies, the actor will sometimes hold the end of a stethoscope to the safe. That's to listen carefully for contact points," said Mr Tan.
Another method involves drilling a hole just long enough to put a tiny camera through.
Mr Tan explained: "It helps to scope the position of the dial. That will help locksmiths obtain the combination and open the safe. "
He added that there are robots, which costs thousands of dollars, to open safes.
"That's why owners have to be careful about what they put in their safes," said Mr Tan.
Mr Chong Kee Sen, 57, president of the Institution of Engineers Singapore, said safe walls are made up of a combination of different materials.
Different tools have to be used to cut through them.
Mr Chong said: "They (the accused) might have used an oxy-acetylene torch to saw through the metal and a breaker or chisel to break through the cement.
"Some safe walls may also be embedded with a layer of copper plate, which helps to dissipate the heat of a cutting touch, thus slowing down the process."
He added: "Cutting a hole in a safe takes a lot of time and usually makes a lot of noise."
Sometimes, safes are only a deterrent.
Mr Thomas Ong, 59, owner of a local safe distributing company, said: "If they have the time and the right equipment, anyone can break into any safe - no matter how much the showroom salesman guarantees otherwise."
He has been in the business for 21 years and he said that while many safes in the market boast fire-resistant features, the material can last in high temperatures for only an hour or two.
Mr Ong said: "My advice for owners is to invest in added security measures like motion sensor lights or CCTV (closed-circuit television) cameras, especially if they plan to keep many valuables in the safe."
If they have the time and the right equipment, anyone can break into any safe - no matter how much the showroom salesman guarantees otherwise.
- Mr Thomas Ong, 59, owner of a local safe distributing company, who said that a safe should be paired with other security measures
HOLLYWOOD FANTASY OR SAFE-CRACKING REALITY?
The art of cracking safes has been featured in many movies.
But are they plausible in real life? Mr Melvin Tan, owner of Singapore Locksmith Services, looks at three film examples:
Scott Lang / Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) breaks into a hydraulic safe by freezing water with liquid nitrogen to shatter the lock.
Mr Tan: "For years, safe manufacturers have experimented on their safes and from experience, I've never seen a scientifically proven method of cracking safes."
THE DUKES OF HAZZARD (2005)
Bo (Seann William Scott) and Luke Duke (Johnny Knoxville) crack open Boss Hogg's (Burt Reynolds) safe with the help of Sheev (Kevin Heffernan) and explosives.
Mr Tan: "Using explosives is the worst possible method of cracking a safe, especially in movies when they put the explosives on the door of the safe.
"The door is the heaviest part and is usually made up of a combination of materials that can absorb the impact of explosions, making it terribly unrealistic."
PHOTOS: YOUTUBE/ WALT DISNEY STUDIOS, YOUTUBE/ PARAMOUNT PICTURES, YOUTUBE/ WARNER BROS
THE ITALIAN JOB (2003)
In this classic remake, professional safe and vault technician Stella Bridger (Charlize Theron) opens a safe with gold bars in it.
Mr Tan: "She's listening to the contact points in the safe to figure out the combination. That method is called manual manipulation.
"It usually involves a ear amplifier, graph paper and an extremely quiet room."