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Safety Concerns

May 10, 2012, 10:08 PM by Ben Dunsmoor

Safety Concerns

Safes are meant to keep your guns and valuables locked up, out of the hands of your children and away from thieves.

But could your safe be giving you a false sense of security?

A major consumer safe manufacturer is facing scrutiny right now because some believe their safes aren't safe at all.

For Sioux Falls attorney and security expert Marc Tobias opening up what is supposed to be a secure safe is as easy as putting a paper clip in the lock.

Tobias says it's scary how secure consumers think the safes are, but in reality how unsafe they can be.

"I think the public ought to be warned. The manufacturers obviously are not warning the public. These are sold not only by Wal-Mart, by Cabela's, by Scheels, by Amazon, lots of major retailers," Tobias said.

The safes are all made by Stack-On, a company head-quartered near Chicago. On the box, it shows the products are for storing guns and valuables, but when Tobias started testing them, he found they're not that difficult to open.

Tobias unlocked four Stack-On safes for KELOLAND News using either a small piece of brass or paper clips.

He started testing the safes after being contacted about the death of a three-year-old boy in Vancouver, Washington. The Clark County Sheriff's Office, based in Vancouver, is at the center of a controversy involving Stack-On safes.

"The sheriff's department issued Stack-On safes for all their deputies to store weapons and evidence," Tobias said.

In September 2010, the three-year-old son of one of the deputies killed himself after the deputy's weapon was taken out of the department-issued safe.

In an internal-affairs unit report issued by the sheriff's department last fall, the deputy and his wife explained how the safe was hard to lock and you had to jiggle the lock.

Stack-On actually recalled more than 1,300 of the safes in 2004 because the products could be opened by jiggling the door knob.

The three-year-old son of Tobias' partner even opened the same safe by simply dropping it on the floor.

The sheriff's department says the lot numbers in the recall were not the same as the safes they issued to their employees.

Tobias tested a newer model of the same safe for KELOLAND News and again opened the safe with a paper clip.

"We're not getting paid for this. This is really a public service. We're carrying the message because everybody ought to be warned about this," Tobias said.

The safes can be purchased in South Dakota. Tobias bought one of them at the Scheels in Sioux Falls. The safes are also sold at Cabela's.

An official who works at Scheels in Sioux Falls confirmed that they sell Stack-On safes, but had no comment on the security of the products and referred comment to the company.

KELOLAND News tried to contact Stack-On several times over the last week to talk to them about the security of their products, but they did not respond to the requests.

Tobias says the company wasn’t interested in talking to him either.

"They don't want to know how. They either know or they are not interested in finding out," Tobias said.

And he believes the safes need to be pulled off the shelves.

"What should be done on this? Every one of these ought to be recalled," Tobias said.

KELOLAND News also contacted the Clark County Sheriff's Office in Washington state to talk about the Stack-On safes they issued, but they would not comment because there is pending litigation involving the deputy and the safes.

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