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Old School Safe Cracking

October 16, 2009

We have been warned many times to be “safe” in Buenos Aires — don’t wear flashy jewelery, watches, or open a wallet full of Benjamins while paying for your daily groceries, etc.  I read up on all the scams courtesy of the State Department, blog research, expats, friends/family, and even the owner of our apartment in Buenos Aires.  Even though we live in a great area of Buenos Aires (Las Cañitas), in a building where you need a key to both get in and out of the lobby, plus has a doorman, and our apartment is on the 6th floor (7th floor by US standards — they ground floor is level 0 — got a little freaked out the first time I was in the elevator and we were going to floor -1, thought we should prepare for impact!), I thought we should be extra “safe” and put our passports and valuables in the very nice/large safe in our bedroom.  This safe was even extra “safe”, it had two locks which both needed to be unlocked before opening it.  The first lock was your typical electronic combination code (think ATM pin number) and the second required a physical key (picture a skeleton key from 1850).

After spending a month in this lovely apartment and discovering the in/outs of our existence in Argentina, we decided instead of renewing our lease we will move a few blocks away to another house/apartment.  This past week I needed to sign the new lease and pay the security deposit, etc.  On my way out the door to this meeting I went to the safe to grab the denario for the security deposit — except the safe would not open!  After trying it a zillion times without any luck, we called the owner of the apartment (who lives in the US).  Tried several more zillion things with him over the next day.    By this time I was wondering how I was going to move this 500 lb safe with me to the next apartment — probably wouldn’t make it down the street very far.

Luckily on our last day in the apartment, a safe cracker was called in to help.  He brought his own tools with him (drill, 9-volt battery….hmm…i think i’m missing something….oh, yes of course….sledgehammer).  Not a lot of communication occurred, he only spoke Spanish and my Spanish classes don’t start for a few weeks!  Whenever he needed to ask a question, I would have to email the owner in the US, he would then call the house phone after a few minutes and talk with the “safe cracker” (the owner speaks both English and Spanish), and then speak with me.  The kids were captivated watching him work.  I was getting concerned after 30 minutes without progress that he might not have the right tools.  Then, with a doctor’s precision, he scratched an ‘X’ on an apparent random spot on the safe’s door.  He pulled out his drill, and just like the movies, he started drilling…and drilling…and about 15 more minutes of drilling — broken by intervals of testing the handle to see if it would open.  I admit I was losing faith again, but not the kids.  When the drill bit would go no further, he pulled out the sledge hammer and started whacking the safe/drill bit.  The kids really liked that technique.  After a few minutes he tested the door again and pulled the whole thing off of its hinges!  Mac caught some action shots.

We are now in our new house (it also has a safe, but having second thoughts about using it) and the last we saw of the safe cracker he was walking down the street with his tool chest in one hand and the safe’s door under the other arm.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Mark Zajkowski permalink
    October 18, 2009 10:50

    At least Geraldo Rivera didn’t come with a camera crew!! Glad you guys are doing well…we miss you!


  2. Lisa Marie Cheney permalink
    October 19, 2009 10:59

    Wow–sounds like a true adventure, well actually it sounds a lot like what goes on in our house–difference is, we can never find the keys!!!

    So, are you living in a house now? I also liked the last blog about family time. That is always a lot of fun. Ever since the kids were young we have “shared our day” during dinner. Everyone shares what they have done throughout the day starting at waking up. Sometimes it can be a long and twisted process–especially when Elizabeth gets the floor! But has been a lot of fun–and a good way for everyone to share special family time.

    Hope everyone is having fun!

  3. Kevin (your elder brother, B-I-L, or uncle depending on who is reading this) permalink
    October 19, 2009 11:59

    Hi all!

    This continues to be great reading…..and it is terrific to have the opportunity to keep up with your adventures!

    I was thinking it’s probably a good thing you hadn’t decided to keep the kids in the safe while you went out for your daily cup of coffee…..

    Now that the kids have seen how to easily open a safe, it’s probably not a good idea to keep the the home-schooling test/quiz answers in there either!



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