This Simple Hack to Unlock Hotel Safes Is Why You Should "Never Trust" Them

A viral social media post shows just how easy it can be for anyone to open one.

Above all else, your hotel room is supposed to be where you feel the most safe and secure during your time on the road. Unfortunately, thieves also know hotel rooms can be the perfect place from which to pilfer valuables, making the hotel-appointed lockbox the spot where most people stash their cash, passports, and precious jewelry. But before you lock your things away, you might want to think twice. Read on to learn more about the simple hack to unlock hotel safes and why one social media user says you should "never trust" them.

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A viral social media post details just how easy it can be to open a hotel safe.

Woman opening modern safe indoors.

Most people don't feel comfortable leaving their valuables out in plain sight when they leave their accommodations to go out and explore. But in a TikTok video on Oct. 26, user @leo..lenier shows just how easily a thief can unlock hotel safes using a simple "hack."

"Never trust a hotel safe," he says to begin the clip—while curiously putting an iron into a standard-looking lockbox along with a pile of cash. "You think that by locking it in the safe and making up your own combination that it'll be safe. It says it's closed, it says it's locked, nobody knows your combination."

But then he demonstrates that by hitting the "lock" button on the safe's keypad twice, the word "super" comes up on the display screen. "Now all you have to do is hit 'zero' six times, and it opens up."

"Now, that doesn't seem very safe," he quips while opening the door.

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Another video showcases the same "hack" that allows thieves to change the access code.

A person entering a hotel room

Unfortunately, this isn't the first time someone has figured out how ineffective hotel safes can be. In a video posted in 2018, YouTube user LockPickingLawyer demonstrates some of the inherent security flaws with Sāflok units commonly used in hotel rooms.

First, he places a bottle of expensive Scotch whisky into one of the units before assigning it a basic code, ensuring it's locked and only accessible using the correct code.

But he then points out that the hotel never changed the administrator password that comes from the factory. He then presses "lock" twice to enter the "super" user mode before entering the factory code "99999," opening up the safe.

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People were split in their reactions to the social media post.

Blurred safe with combination lock and human hand in a hotel room
Bykfa / Shutterstock

While the surprising discovery may come as a shock to some travelers, one expert says the issue is more of an open secret.

"It is a common known problem in hotels since the beginning of in-room safes," Stefan Vito Hiller, a global risk consultant to hotels with Sky Touch Consulting, told The Independent in a 2018 interview. "It is standard in our security audits to check for default code settings, and occasionally we find safes with this setting."

He also warned that it wasn't just a problem at cheaper accommodations. "Default-code settings can be found also in four- and five-star hotels around the world," Vito Hiller explained. "When safes get installed, it is the hotel's responsibility to change those codes, but because of a lack of product knowledge by hotel management, it doesn't often get changed."

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There are still a few things you can do to keep your items safe in your hotel room.

A person putting something into a hotel safe.
aquaArts studio/iStock

Fortunately, there are still a few things you can do to ensure your items aren't a risk in your hotel room. Besides always keeping your door shut, it's best to check the safe is securely bolted to the wall and not just furniture, Vito Heller told The Independent. Then, check for yourself whether or not the hotel has changed factory access codes, being sure to avoid using birthdates, check-in dates, or your room number when you set your own.

In light of the surprisingly easy hack, commenters also chimed in and passed along their own personal tidbits of information.

"I'll still use the safe," one TikTok user said in reply to the video. "Our favorite resort just had a fire that destroyed two rooms, but their passports and essentials in the safe were undamaged."

But others still took the opportunity to poke fun at the situation. "I don't trust anyone with my iron, so mine stays at home," one TikTok user joked.

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Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
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