Safes And Vaults Alarm Sensors

By: Ari Erenthal, Published on Jul 07, 2017

Vaults and safes are designed to protect valuables by enclosing them in steel or concrete boxes with thick doors and strong locks. However, any such box can eventually be cut open, given enough time, patience, and tools. Connecting the vault or safe into an alarm system improves security.

In this guide, we examine:

  • Vaults and SCIFs
  • Safes
  • Common attacks
  • Seismic detectors
  • Magnetic contacts
  • Motion detectors
  • Adding safe and vault alarms
  • Redundancy

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** **** *****, ** examine:

  • ****** *** *****
  • *****
  • ****** *******
  • ******* *********
  • ******** ********
  • ****** *********
  • ****** **** *** ***** alarms
  • **********

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* ***** ** * protected **** ****** * structure. ****** *** ********* purpose-built ***** **** ** steel ********** ******** *** a ***** ***** ****. Most ****** **** **** concrete *****, *******, *** floor, ** ***** ** defeat ******** ** ****** the **** ** ******** in **** ******* ****. This ***** ** **** difficult ** ***** *** holes *** * ****, and ***** ******** ************ unreliable. *** ***** ******** should ********* ******** ******* *** *******

*** **** ** ***** is *** ****** ************* Information ********, ** ****. A **** ** * secure **** **** ****** occupants ** ***** *** discuss ****** *********** ******* fear ** ********** ************. This ********* ***** ***** the ************ ** * SCIF, ********* **** ******** security ******* ****.

*****

* **** ** * strong *** **** ***** walls *** * ****. Most ***** **** *** ******** ratings, *** *** **** protection *** *** *** burglary **********. ***** *** either ** ************ ** built **** * **** or *****. *** ***** door ** * **** is ******* *** ********* side, ** *****-** ***** are ********* ****** ** defeat. 

***** *** ********* ********* based ** ***** ******. A *********** **** *** be ******* *** ******* to ******* ********, ***** a ******* *** ******* to **** ** ** their *******. ************ ********** a ***** **** *** make ** ************ ** move, ******* * ******* to ******* ***** ** site. 

Common *******

***** ******** ***** **** can**** ***** ******** ***********, **** *** *** costly *** **** * long **** ** *** up *** ** **** the ***********. ******* ** drilling **** *** **** are *** **** ****** methods ** *****. 

**** ******** ***** *** designed *** **** ********** rather **** *** ******** protection, *** ** * result *** *** ********* to *** ** ***** open. 

**** ***** ***** *** two **** ****** *******: cutting **** *** **** of *** **** *** prying **** *** ****. The **** ***** ** a **** ****, **** thick **** ********* ******** but ********** **** *****, allowing *** ********* ** quickly **** *****. 

Seismic *********

******* ********* *** ******** to ****** ********** ****** by *******, ********, ********, or ******** * ****. Some ******* ********* **** **** temperature ******* *** ****-**-**** detectors ***** **, ** order ** ****** *** of ***********, ********* *******, and ***** ******* **** use **** ******* ** mechanical force ** *** *** safe ****. 

******* ********* ****** ** mounted **** **** ******* of ********* **** ** electric ****** ** ***** pipes. ******* ********* ******** have ********** ***********, ******** technicians ** ****** * sensitivity ***** *********** *** the *********** ******* ******* false ******. 

******* ********* ******** **** with ******** ******** *******, allowing **** ** ** mounted ** ******** ** steel **** ****** ** welded ******** ** ******** steel. **** ******* ********* have ****** ****** ***** allowing **** ** ** placed ** ***** ** floors ****** ******* ********. 

******* ********* *** ***** on *** **** ** the **** **** *** detect. ***** ****** **** require ******** ******* ********* in ***** ** ***** sensor ***** *****. ****** mounting ********* *** ******* detectors ******* *****, *******, vault *****, *** ******** in *** *****.

*** ********, **** *****, safes **** *** *** heavy ** ****** ****, and ****** ****** ******** can *** ** ********* with ******* *********. ********** commonly ***** ******* ********* so **** *** ****** being ********* *** ** the ********* ******. *** attempt ** *** ***** to ***** **** *** safe ** *** **** thus ** ********. 

******* ********* *** ***** around ~$*** ***. 

********

*****-** ***** ***** **** *** attack ******* *** ***** protected ****** *** *********** ********** ****** ***** ******* *** closing. ******** ******** **** not ****** ********, *******, or *********, *******, ** it ** ********* ** use ******** **** ** the **** ** *** only ********* ****** ** entry.

*********** ***** **** *** easily ** ******* *** also ** ********* ** contacts. ********** ******** ***** a ******* ** *** floor *** ***** *** magnet ** *** **** of *** ****. ** an ********* ******** ** take *** **** ** be ****** *****, *** circuit **** ***** *** send * ****** ** the ***** *****. **** using ******** ******* ** the *****, **** ********** choose ** ******* ** as *** **** ****, ** *** ***** will ** ********* **** if *** **** ** stolen ****** ****** ******** hours, ***** *** ***** is ********. ** **** zones ****** **** ** programmed *** ***** ***** are *** ***** ** be ***** ********.

********** ******** ****** **** security ******** *** **** application, ***** **** ********* ** defeat **** ******** ******** contacts. ***** * ******** ****** technicians ** ******* ***** contacts **** *** **** of ***** ***** ****, which ***** ********* **** even **** *********. 

********** ******** *** ******* cable **** ***** **** security ******** ** ******* a ****, ** *** wire **** ** *** on *** *********** ****. 

**** ******** ******** **** armored ****** *** ***** ~$100 ***. 

Motion *********

** ******** ** ******* detectors *** ******** ********, installers ******** *** **** protection ** *** **** of *** ****** *********. **** will ***** ** ***** to ***** ** **** as ** ********* ****** a ********* ****, ****** attacking *** ****. 

**** ********** ******* **** motion ********* *** ****** intruders ****** ******* *** ceiling, *****, ** *****, while ********* ********* ******* such ** ******** ******** can **** ****** ********* entering through ***** ** *******. 

********** ******** ****** ****** detectors **** ****-********* ******** **** protecting ****** *** *****. These ******* ****-***** **********, which ** ******** ** detect ********* ********** ** crawl ********** *** ********* zone, *** ****-******* **********, which ****** *** ********* zone ************ ** **** an ********* *** ******* the ****** ** ***** to ***** **. 

****** ********* **** ****-********* features *** ***** ~$***. 

Adding **** *** ***** ******

**** *** ***** ****** operate ** *** **** principle ** ***** ***** sensors. * ***** ** *** from *** ***** ** the ******. *** **** of ***** *** ***** to *** ******. **** the ****** ******** *** in *******, *** **** is ******. **** *** sensor ******** **** *****, the **** *****, ******* the ***** ***** ** trigger * ********.

******* *******, **** ** seismic ******* *** ****** detectors, ******* ******* **** of ***** ********* ** the ***** *****'* ********* power ******. **** ****** only ****** * ******* amount ** *****, ** it ** ********* ** keep *** ***** ******* draw ** *** ********* devices ***** *** ******* output ******. 

****** ********* *** ******* detectors ******** **** * tamper ******, ***** **** trigger ** ***** ** the ****** ***** ** removed. ****** ******** *** designed ** ****** ******** to ******* ** ****** the ******, *************** ******** ** ****** attempts ** ******* ** defeat *** ****. 

**** ********** ****** ** dedicate *** **** ** the ****** *** *** zone ** *** ****** switch. **** **** ** a **** *** ******** running * ***** **** of ***** ** *** panel. *******, **** ****** the ********* ** ******* the ****** ** * 24 **** ****, ***** will ******* *** ***** even ** *** ****** is ********. **** ****** the ***** **** ** the ******* ***********. ** an ********* *** ********* a ******** ** ******* the ***** ****** ** preparation *** * ********, ****** the ****** ** * separate **** ****** *** employer ** ******** ****. 

***** ********** ****** ** wire *** ****** ****** in ****** **** *** detection *******. **** ****** the ****** *** *** detector ** ***** * single **** *** **** not ******* * ***** wire ****. ** *** sensor *** **** ********, the **** **** ****** open *** ******* *** user **** ****** *** alarm ******, ******** **** to *** *******. *******, it *** ** **** hours before *** ******* ** discovered. 

******** ******** ** *** have ****** ********, *** high ******** ******** *** designed ** ****** ****** attempts ** **** *** same ***. 

**********

***** *** ******** ******* can ** ********, ** takes ****, ******, *** expertise ** ** **. For **** ******** ************ such ** ***** *** safe ********, **** ********** prefer ******** ********* ****** of ********. ** ** *** uncommon ** *** * seismic ********, * ******** contact, * ****** ******** covering *** **** ********, a *** **** ** the ******* ** ******* to *** ****, ***** with cameras *** ****** *****. 

***** ******** ****** ** security **** *** ***** that end ***** *** *** forced ** **** ** any *** ******** ****** or **************. **** ***** of ********* ******** **** equipment *** ***** ***** to *** ******. *******, for ******* **** ***** targets, ********** ******** ************ may **** ** **** cost ********* **** ******* a **** ** * loss. 

Comments (20)

What about capacitance sensing devices?

Do you have any examples?

Capacitance alarms such as the Ademco #1401 used to be a common type of detection device used on commercial safes. (see my comments in related article.)

The last time I did a search I could no longer find any commercial manufacturers of capacitance alarms. 

Thanks, Michael. 

I found the installation manual for the Ademco 1401

You had to insulate the safe and ground the sensor directly to a cold water pipe or directly to earth, and even then, false alarms were a concern:

Be sure there are no metal objects on the other side of any adjacent wall to the safe, as these objects may become part of the same protective field as the safe. Also make sure there are no extension cords located around or behind the safe. False alarms may result from people approaching or touching these objects. If you cannot ground an adjacent metal object, fasten metal screening or aluminum foil between the common wall and the safe and then connect the shielding to an earth ground. Be sure that the shielding does not touch the safe. Shielding should also be considered if large, moving metal objects pass close to the safe on the other side of an adjacent wall. For example, an automobile may be an offender, or shipping clerks passing by with metal objects, etc.

I hate using "before my time" as an excuse, but frankly it looks like this thing was discontinued for a reason. 

If installed correctly, capacitance alarms were actually an extremely reliable type of device. 

The false alarm problem that the manual described was only usually an issue when the safe was located near an exterior wall facing a street, or an interior wall that had unrelated occupants on the other side. For example, if you had a jewelry store in a strip mall with a safe placed on an inside wall, activities occurring on the opposite side of the wall in an adjoining tenant space could cause an alarm.

This issue could usually be overcome by proper placement of the safe and was only a real problem in about 10% of applications. (I recall once case where the safe alarm at a furrier in a high-rise building was tripped by passing elevators in an adjacent elevator shaft). 

I think that safe alarms, along with a variety of other labor-intensive old-time perimeter and interior detection devices, became obsolete with the widespread availability of relatively inexpensive motion detectors. 

 

I'm always glad when I can end my day a little more knowledgable than I began it, thank you. 

I'm happy when I look into a mirror at the end of the day and recognize the guy.  

Those of us who used to foil glass, run 22 twist and line walls with coated copper wire and dowels / Masonite will appreciate this.  Always keep the tins together. 

Hell I started with 6 volt Dry cell batteries and an old Ademco 101 panel. Try wiring buildings with a ONE WIRE, ONE CONDUCTOR loop, foil tape and Shunt locks! These kids now complain about troubleshooting a multi- zone systems, they dont know how hard it really was back in the day.

I bet no one has ever installed a flash guard system? That was our 'go-to' residential system.

Lifting the safe and finding approved NHL pucks was a problem. 

Used them many times without false alarm, very simple to install if done correctly and even harder to beat!

Capacitance sensors fall in the proximity sensor family along side pressure mats.  I don't have direct references but having just completed my ASIS CPP certification, the Protection of Assets talks about methods for securing metal objects.  Capacitance sensors can also be extended to exterior protection against fence lines.  I was asking in case you have references.

When constructing bank vaults, it used to be common practice to lace wires within the walls, floor and ceiling before the concrete was poured. The wires were laced within the rebar about six inches apart and then connected to the burglar alarm as a closed-loop device. Anyone punching through the vault walls would have a hard time getting through without cutting a wire.

This was a labor-intensive old-school type of installation technique that is probably not done any more.

I've seen one Bank vault be constructed in my short career in financial electronic security with Chubb Edwards, and no wires were laced in the vault. Many banks here opt out of vaults now, the last few big banks I was involved with prior to leaving Chubb, were just putting safes in, rather than constructing a vault.

I've worked in many older vaults, did not see any connections for laced wire, but I guess that doesn't mean they aren't there. Long abandoned, and cut off, who knows.

Very informative, Thank you.

Acousticals were popular and the installation of a heat detector at the door was required.  

Lacing of wires before the concrete was poured was common for night depositories to protect the receiving safe as well as the chute connecting the depository head, (where customer deposited monies) leading into the safe. This practice pretty much ended by the 1980's.

Bank vaults typically have conduits pre-installed for the purpose of bringing both alarm, camera and A.C. power cables. They are typically protected with Sound detectors(microphones). The door typically comes with a Vault Type Door contact and thermal detector pre-installed.

A vault used to protect a product like furs, would use seismic devices.

Where abouts do you work where door contacts were pre-installed? I never had that luxury, but boy did I sometimes wish I did. Same with ATM's and Night Deposits.

I think a couple credit unions had Diebold cash dispensers pre-installed with the standard package (Door contact, heat sensor, and seismic detector) but they were not ULC rated devices, unfortunately. And the holes of course never line up.

Chicago. Semi-Retired. Worked for Chubb till UTC spun the U.S. off.  Current vault doors in the U.S. are pre alarmed from the manufacturer. When it comes to safes and ATM's typically not. A lot of alarm devices carry both UL and ULC ratings. I'm surprised the Diebold devices didn't have the dual listings.

The door contact (standard door contact) and the heat detector were ULC rated, but the vibration detector was not. I thought it was weird too, I assumed things were a bit different in the states.

What did Chubb in the states become? I was always curious about that. I started with Chubb Edwards in canada after UTC has bought GE security products and merged them together, thought it was odd Chubb seems to exist everywhere but the states, considering all of UTC's promotional stuff around the office had landmarks from the states(Or the UK), lol

Before UTC purchased us we were Red Hawk Industries. After UTC spun us off we became Red Hawk Fire and Security with about 32 branch locations owned by a stock equity group.

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