Tourist Cracks Mystery Safe Combination At First Attempt

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Tourist Cracks Mystery Safe Combination At First Attempt

Postby toucana on June 6th, 2019, 11:53 am 

Stephen Mills with the opened safe.

A Canadian man unlocked a safe that had sat unopened in a small museum for decades, cracking the code on his first try with a lucky guess.

The safe which formerly belonged to a local hotel had sat unopened since the 1990s in the Vermilion Heritage Museum in Alberta Canada. The combination was lost, and museum staff had previously tried contacting the manufacturers and former hotel employees to find it, as well as working through all the known factory defaults.

Stephen Mills from Fort McMurray was visiting the museum with his family and noticed that the dial numbers ran from zero to 60. He decided to try 20-40-60 using a typical lock rotation pattern of clockwise (x3) on the 20, anti-clockwise (x2) on the 40, and clockwise (x1) on the 60. And the door swung open !

Sadly, the safe contained only an old pay-sheet, and a restaurant order pad. The latter included receipts for a mushroom burger for C$ 1.50 and a carton of cigarettes for C$1.00.

The odds of Mr. Mills guessing the lock combination are pretty long according to University of Toronto’s Jeffrey Rosenthal, author of Knock on Wood: Luck, Chance and The Meaning of Everything (2018).

He calculated the chance of correctly guessing the combination on one try as 1 in 216,000. (His calculation assumed the safe numbers actually ran from 1 to 60).

Some combination locks allow for wiggle-room, and if this one had a three-digit leeway, Mr. Rosenthal put the chances at 1 in 8000.
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