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Safe Deposit Box Access

Question: Our safe deposit boxes are located in our vaults. During normal banking hours, the main vault door is open with the exception of a day-gate, which is kept locked. When a customer requests access to their box, one of the tellers retrieves the key to the day-gate and the master safe deposit key and assists the customer in retrieving their box. The current procedure is for the teller then to escort the customer with their box out of the vault back through the lobby to a small office where they can examine their contents. One of our officers has proposed that our customers, many of whom has expressed a desire to conduct their business in the vault, remain in the vault with their valuables behind the closed and locked day-gate, thus eliminating the risk of entering a public area with their box. They could walk to the day-gate and indicate when they wanted to come out. For some reason this idea disturbs me. Would you comment?

Answer: (From: David McGuinn, Safe Deposit Specialists, Inc. - Houston, Texas)If your institution has a safe deposit disappearance claim, gets sued and then goes into a court room, one of the first questions you will be asked on the witness stand is; "Do you ever leave anyone in your safe deposit vault alone?"

If you must answer this question "YES," you will be excused from the witness stand immediately. The following expert witnesses for the prosecution will inform the jury about many locksmith tools, available to the general public, that can open safe deposit locks in as little as three seconds without a key.

Also, if a day gate key is needed to exit the vault, you are also creating a fire hazard that could be very dangerous for the renter who is locked inside the vault. If your facility catches on fire, this renter is trapped.

Never leave anyone in the vault alone! This includes your safe deposit locksmith who provides services inside the vault.

Copyright © 2004 Bankers' Hotline. Originally appeared in Bankers' Hotline, Vol. 14, No. 9, 11/04

First published on 11/01/2004

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