How to Open a Lock Box Without a Key? 7 Quick Ways

Adrian Rodger

By Adrian Rodger

Last Updated on July, 2024

Whether you lost the key or forgot the combination, losing access to your key lock box can be a stressful experience. This is especially true if you’ve been locked out of your cash box or personal protection box. 

Even though this is a common issue that most lock box owners will face sooner or later, you don’t need to call for help right away to fix it. 

In this article, we’ll show you how to open a lock box without a key by yourself, with detailed instructions to execute each method. 

Disclaimer: we do not intend for this information to be used for criminal activities. You should only attempt to open a lock box if you are its rightful owner or have received authorisation from the owner. 

Quick Summary

  • There are multiple methods for opening a lock box without a key, including prying, bypassing, lock picking, decoding, drilling, shimming, and cutting.
  • It is important to use caution and only attempt to open a lock box if you are its rightful owner or have received authorisation from the owner.
  • In certain situations, such as when the lock box refuses to open even with the correct combination, it may be best to call a professional locksmith for assistance.

7 Quick Ways to Open a Lock Box Without a Key (By Yourself) 

Here are 7 methods you can try to open a lock box without a key.

1. Prying 

a person prying to open a lock box

Prying is one of the quickest ways to open a lock box without a key or code. Wedge the flat end of a crowbar or pry bar between the lock box and the door, then apply force until you can pry the box open. 

The key to this method is finding the right amount of leverage to force the lock box open. Ensure that the flat end of the pry bar goes all the way into the crevice and that the tool is long enough to manoeuvre. 

You should find a way to stop the lock box from moving, as this will make it difficult to find leverage. This method also won’t work if the lock box has been bolted down, as you won’t be able to move it. 

If you manage to secure the lock box in place and find the right leverage, you can get it open with minimal effort. However, doing this will likely damage or break your lock box, so keep that in mind. 

2. Bypassing

bypassing method to unlock a lock box without a key

This method requires a little more precision, but is still a quick way to regain access to your lock box without a key. You can perform a bypass by manipulating the lock’s actuator directly.

To do this, find a tool thinner and longer than your key and insert it into the back of the lock. This tool works in the same way as a rotating tailpiece, and you can rotate it to unlock the box. 

Different locking mechanisms work in various ways, but the process remains the same. Moving the right components within the mechanism should give you easy access to your lock box. 

If you have the key, but forgot the combination, then it’s an even easier fix. All you have to do is perform a factory reset bypass. Your lock’s user manual should have a reset code process for you to follow. 

You can input the standard reset codes shown in the manual and unlock the lock box without breaking a sweat. 

3. Lock Picking 

lockpicking method to unlock a lock box without a key

In case of a misplaced key, a lock pick can be a very capable substitute. It’s not as easy to use as shown in movies but it can be an effective tool when implemented correctly.

While you can use household items like hairpins or paperclips, we recommend using proper lock-picking tools to get the job done quicker.

If you are unfamiliar with lock picking, here’s a step-by-step guide to help you: 

  • First, obtain a rake and a tension wrench.
  • Next, insert the tension wrench into the keyway. 
  • Apply tension just as you would when turning a key.
  • Insert the rake through the back of the keyway and push it in. 
  • Move the rake up, down, in, and out, while maintaining tension with the wrench. 
  • When you feel the rake reach the shear line in the mechanism, rotate the tension wrench to open the lock box. 

Too much or too little tension will delay the process, so you’ll need to get it just right. If you’ve been trying for more than two minutes to no effect, remove the lock pick and start again by reinserting the tension wrench. 

While effective, lock picking won’t be of much help in case of a jammed mechanism. In other words, if you were having trouble opening the lock with the key, you won’t be able to open it with a lock pick either. 

4. Decoding

decoding to open a lock box without a key

This is one of the most common methods to regain access to wheel combination lock boxes. The mechanism in these lock boxes lets you discern the right numbers from the wrong ones based on sight and feel.

You can decode locks using the following steps:

  • Pull the padlock shackle and apply tension to the lock. You can also do this by slightly opening the lock box. 
  • Place your thumb firmly at the top of each wheel to rotate it. Do it one number at a time and take note of how each number feels. 
  • Identify the number that has the smoothest rotation in each wheel. Doing this until you get all the numbers in sequence should give you the combination. 

Not requiring any special tools makes this the simplest method for decoding a combination padlock. However, it doesn’t always fix the issue. 

If your lock box won’t open, even if the combination feels right, you’ll need the help of a professional to decode your lock box. They will employ more advanced methods like lock impressioning to unlock your device. 

5. Drilling

drilling to open a lock box without a key

When it comes to opening a lock box without a key, a good old power drill might be just what the doctor ordered. Remember to only use one if you have a keyed padlock. You should avoid using a drill on a combination lock box, as this is only for professionals. 

Drilling requires you to follow these steps: 

  • Configure your power drill with a drill bit to make penetration easier.
  • Push the drill bit into the keyway. 
  • Slowly increase the bit size to break the locking mechanism. 
  • Once the hole is created, insert a flathead screwdriver to turn the cylinders and unlock the box. 

Depending on the size of your keyway, a single drill bit might be enough to breach the lock. You should also make the bit wider in diameter than the keyway to quicken the process. 

For lock boxes with removable locks, you won’t need to replace the full device, as the damaged part can be replaced separately. However, since this is a destructive method of entry, lock boxes with non-removable locks will be too damaged after drilling for you to use again. 

6. Shimming

shimming to open a lock box without a key

Unlike the previous method, this one does not require any dangerous tools and allows for non-destructive entry, saving you money on both a locksmith and a new lock box. 

Shimming is a quick and easy process where you insert two shards of metal into the crevice between the shackle and lock body. Once inserted, move the metal pieces inside the “U” of the padlock and press down. 

To create a shim at home, cut out the top and bottom of an aluminium can and use the remaining aluminium to make two shards. Fold the two shards with a tear down the middle of each piece.

This will let you wrap each shim around the shackle and force the lock open with the sharp edges. Most cheap lock boxes can be shimmed open, so this method gives you a high chance of success. 

However, if your key box or cash box can be shimmed open, someone else could gain access to it just as easily as you. As such, your lock box might not be the best place to store money or important belongings. 

7. Cutting

cutting to open a lock box without a key

This is another straightforward way to open a lock box without a key. Similar to drilling, cutting also requires a special tool to ensure the best results. 

If you have a faulty padlock, you can remove it using a pair of bolt cutters without causing damage to the lock box. However, the most efficient way to sever a locking mechanism is by using an angle grinder. 

This is especially true for lock boxes with non-removable locks, as an angle grinder will cut through one in no time, while a less powerful tool will take longer and dull the blade in the process. 

The main downside of this method is that it will destroy your lock box beyond repair, and you’ll have to purchase a new one. 

For this reason, destructive entry methods such as cutting should always be considered a last resort when trying to open a lock box without a key. 

When Should You Call a Locksmith?

When looking at how to open a lock box without a key, there are several methods you can try by yourself. However, there are other times when calling a professional is the best course of action. 

One such instance is if your lock box refuses to open even when you input the correct combination. Another is if you pick the lock correctly using a rake and tension wrench, but still fail to unlock the box. 

These and similar scenarios could indicate more complex problems within your lockbox that are beyond your expertise. 

a locksmith drilling to unlock a door

It’s also generally wiser to call a professional when you get locked out, as they will understand the problem better than you–especially if you have no specific knowledge or experience with opening a lock box. 

Worth reading:

Conclusion

Since lock boxes are low security devices, there are many quick ways to open them without a key. These can range from resetting the code to forcing the lock open with a power drill or angle grinder. 

When attempting this by yourself, consider your experience with lock boxes and how familiar you are with handling various lock-picking tools. 

You can then decide whether to carry on yourself or wait until the locksmith arrives. 

Best of luck!

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