There are many legal situations that require safes to be opened without the combination. In such cases, one of the following methods is usually applied: prying open, cutting into, manipulation, drilling and scoping, according to Fortress Lock, Safe, & Security.
Among the legitimate reasons to break into a safe are fire, a failed break-in attempt that results in a compromised lock, a malfunction of the lock and, most commonly, a forgotten combination, explains Fortress Lock, Safe, & Security. Prying into a safe is technically possibly, but extremely difficult, and has a very low rate of success. Because cutting into a safe is the most common method employed by criminals, most manufacturers build defenses against this method into their safes, making it too noisy, messy, expensive and time-consuming to be commonly employed.
A popular method is manipulation, using a stethoscope to detect soft noises indicating the correct position. This can be somewhat time-consuming and requires much experience and knowledge of the specific lock but is effective and leaves the safe intact, notes Fortress Lock, Safe, & Security. Drilling, or drilling and scoping, can also be an effective method that leaves the safe relatively undisturbed. Drilling a hole allows visual access to the locking mechanism with the naked eye or with a scope. However, this method is defended against by manufacturers, making it often more labor-intensive than manipulation.