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Tourist Guesses the Code to Museum’s Mysterious Locked Safe on First Try

by Eben Diskin Jun 6, 2019

This Canadian guy makes National Treasure’s Benjamin Gates look like an amateur, opening an iron lockbox on his very first try just by guessing the combination. On a family visit to the Vermilion Heritage Museum in Alberta, Stephen Mills thought he’d attempt opening an old safe that had been locked since the 1970s. It had originally been housed in the town’s Brunswick Hotel and was believed to have been bought in 1907. The museum has hired experts to crack the code and even invited several patrons to give it a try — all to no avail, until Mills came along.

Apparently, Mills noticed that the numbers on the dial ran from zero to 60, and so he tried the combination 20-40-60. “Typical combination lock,” he said. “Three times clockwise — 20 — two times counterclockwise — 40 — once clockwise — 60, tried the handle and it went. I could tell it wasn’t opened for a long time because some dust fell out from the locking mechanism.” The odds of correctly guessing this combination were one in 216,000 — although the fact that this safe used a specific combination, and not a random one, certainly helped.

Unfortunately, Mills only discovered an old pay sheet and part of a restaurant order pad inside the safe. Although, since those seemingly mundane items were locked away inside a safe, maybe there’s more to them than meets the eye.

The museum’s tour guide, Tom Kibblewhite, said, “They have no value really, but they are of great interest to us. It gives us a little bit of an idea of what the places were like in 1977, ‘78.”


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