Twenty-eight years ago when I was beginning my career as a Special Agent of the FBI, I read the First Edition of this book, and attended a class that the author taught on lock picking and impressioning.  Since that time, I have maintained close contact with the author. Until my retirement in 1999, I have had an occasion to work many cases involving the theft of physical assets and information. The compromise of locks, safes, and security systems was always a concern, especially when involving classified information, sabotage, or theft of critical components.

A veil of secrecy has always cloaked information regarding covert methods of entry involving locks and safes. The locksmith community jealously guards their techniques, even from law enforcement. Manufacturers likewise will rarely disclose design defects that permit their products to be bypassed, especially high security devices. Yet, there is a real need for this knowledge by criminal investigators, forensic examiners, and intelligence agencies so that they may perform their tasks competently. Many high level investigations involve the surreptitious compromise of security hardware. Without a detailed understanding of locks and safes, anyone that is charged with the responsibility of reaching a valid case solution is hampered in their efforts.

The detailed treatment by the author in the Second Edition of Locks, Safes, and Security offers an unprecedented insight into these subjects. Marc Tobias describes all of the primary locking mechanisms: why they work and how they are bypassed. I found particularly valuable the forensics section that describes the analysis of locks, safes, and security systems for bypass. The detailed checklists that are presented will prove essential for use during any investigation regarding potential surreptitious entry. The chapters dealing with picking, impressioning, and decoding tools and techniques provide a global perspective of the incredible array of tools and techniques that are now available for compromise of the highest security locks and safes.

In many respects, the information should cause a great deal of concern for anyone who is responsible for security, because the author documents the ease with which many of the best locks in the world can be covertly bypassed without any trace whatsoever. Armed with this knowledge, security experts can intelligently add levels of protection as deemed necessary.

The author’s expertise in law enforcement, the law, and as a technician provides the required perspective to cover the subject in depth. He has woven together the essential elements of many subjects, and made detailed technical information understandable to diverse audiences. I highly recommend this book to the law enforcement community, and I suspect that it will be equally well received by professional locksmiths and safe technicians.  It is rich with the kind of information that has only been available in a fragmented form in many publications, if at all.

The author has created a unique international treatise that is supplemented by reference to the most significant patents that have been issued during the past two hundred years in England and the United States, combined with excellent graphics. Although this book will have taken the author seven years of intensive work to produce, it represents almost thirty years of experience, all the while gathering materials for this Edition. We have discussed the re-write many times during the past three decades: it was clearly worth the wait.

I am certain that this text will be a standard reference within our profession for many years to come.

Brockman C. Self

FBI Special Agent (Retired), 1971-1999