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Lock Blog

A resource for consumers, locksmiths, and security professionals

7 Quick Ways To Open A Lock Box Without A Key

by Ralph September 8, 2021

When you are locked out of your cash box, key box, personal protection box, etc., you need to figure out how to open a lock box without a key or code. Luckily, you should be able to regain access to your property quickly and simply in one of seven ways.

DISCLAIMER – This information is only intended for legal use. Do not attempt to open a lock box unless you are the owner or have permission to open it by the owner. Only continue reading if you want to know how to open a lock box without a key or code legally.

How to open a lock box with a key or code easily by:

  1. Bypassing
  2. Shimming
  3. Picking
  4. Decoding
  5. Drilling
  6. Prying
  7. Cutting


What is a lock box?

A lock box is a security device similar to a safe. But the difference between safes and lockboxes is their level of security. If a locking metal box uses anything weaker than 12 gauge steel, it falls into the category of lock box. 12 gauge steel or thicker often classifies the device as a safe.

How secure is a lock box?

A lock box falls into the category of low-security products, which means the device will suggest the intention to protect. A motivated criminal can quickly open a lock box if they come with the proper tools or steal the box itself. The metal is thin, and the locking mechanisms are simple.

Can I change the lock on my lock box?

Many lock boxes have keyed replaceable cores, but combination locks can be built into the box itself. The process of changing a lock box lock is similar to file cabinet lock replacement or changing a mailbox key. The box must be opened, and then the core is often secured with a c-clip, which can be removed with a flathead screwdriver.

How do I know if my lock box has a reset code?

Some lock boxes have factory reset codes so the box can be opened, and the code can be changed. Without a factory reset code, there will still be a way to rest the code once the lock box is open. Look at your product documentation for the process to change your combination lock.

1. Bypassing

A bypass is going to be specific to a particular lock or product, but there are several standards you can try with any lock box. If you are looking for how to open a lock box without a key, the bypass can come in the form of manipulating the actuator directly.

To manipulate a lock’s actuator, you can try reaching through the keyway. Using a tool thinner and longer than your key, insert into the back of the lock. You may be able to reach the mechanism that the cam/tailpiece interacts with and turn it similar to a rotating tailpiece.

How to open a lock box without a code may be as simple as the factory reset bypass. This works on some combination lock boxes that have standard reset codes. Look for documentation for your lock box, such as the manual, and look for the reset code process.

More substantial lock boxes may have pre-cut holes to bolt them to the ground. Some electronic locks will have rest levers or buttons on the inside of the lock box. How to open a lock box without a code can be as simple as getting a tool into a gap and flipping that reset switch.

Key Takeaways:

  • Look up your specific lock box online to see if it has a documented bypass.
  • See if you can use a tool to turn the lock actuator through the keyway.
  • Check your manual for factory reset codes.
  • Electronic combination locks may have reset switches accessible through gaps.

2. Shimming

If your lock box uses a padlock, it may be a product that only offers the illusion of security. Most cheap padlocks can be shimmed open, which is a process of inserting two thin pieces of metal into the gap between the shackle and lock body.

A shim can be improvised out of an aluminum can with a pair of scissors. Simply make an arrow shape. Insert the point into the crevice between the shackle and the body of the lock. Move the shims so they are inside the “U” and press down.

Whether it is how to open a lock box without a key or how to open a key lock box without a code, a keyed padlock or combination padlock can be vulnerable to shimming. Be aware even if you are not using one of the best padlocks to secure your lock box, you may have a product that cannot be shimmed.

Key Takeaways:

  • If your lockbox secures with a padlock, it may be shimable.
  • You can make improvised shims from aluminum cans.
  • Some padlocks are protected against shimming.

3. Picking

You need to know how to open a lock box without a key without taking the time to learn everything there is about how to pick a lock. That is why we will be focusing on raking rather than single pin picking. This is something you should be able to try with no prior experience.

If time is not a factor, buying lock picking tools will make this process much easier. How to open a lock box without a key using improvised tools is a bit more challenging. If your tools are not properly shaped, they are more likely to fail. The locking process boils down to:

  1. Gather your lock pick and tension wrench. 
  2. Insert the tension wrench into the keyway.
  3. Apply tension as if you were turning the key.
  4. Insert your lock pick to the back of the keyway.
  5. Move the lock pick up, down, in, and out while maintaining tension.
  6. Once successfully picked, rotate the tension wrench to open the lock.

Common mistakes include over and under tensioning the lock. Experiment with the amount of pressure. If you do not open the lock box in two minutes, remove tension and start again. Be aware that if your key does not work, lock picking will not work.

Key Takeaways:

  • Lock box locks can often be picked by novices.
  • Improvised lock picks are harder to use successfully.
  • Broken locks cannot be picked open.

4. Decoding

This section will deal with how to open a lock box without a code. The decoding we are going to cover only works with wheel combination locks. These locks have a row of visible numbers that turn on individual wheels. You will find this type of lock built into lock boxes or on padlocks.

  1. Tension to the lock by slightly opening the box or pulling on the padlock shackle. 
  2. Move each wheel, one number at a time.
  3. Feel how much the wheel can rock on a given number.
  4. The number with the most play (most free movement) is part of the combination.
  5. Once all the numbers are in sequence, the lock should open.
  6. If the lock does not open, walk the whole combination down, number by number.

The difference between the movement of the correct number and the incorrect numbers should be noticeable visually as well as by feel. If the padlock won’t open when you can feel the correct combination, the lock might be broken, or the sequence is correct but not the combination.

There are other methods you can use to decode locks, but this is the most simple, requiring no tools. There are decoding methods professionals could theoretically apply to how to open a lock box without a key, but things like lock impressioning are too complex to be helpful for most.

Key Takeaways:

  • This form of decoding can only be done on some wheel combination locks.
  • The process is done by feel and requires no tools.
  • There are other more complex forms of lockbox decoding.

5. Drilling

How to open a lock box without a key can be done quickly by drilling out the lock cylinder. The benefit of this form of destructive entry is the lock box does not have to be replaced. Since the lock is the only part of the lock box that is being broken, it can be replaced separately.

If the lock on the lock box cannot be replaced, then this destructive entry method offers no advantage over the others. This will not be applicable to how to open a lock box with a code. Novices should only worry about drilling keyed cylinder locks, and leave combination locks be.

The process is very simple, but before drilling a lock, you can do a bit of prep. Spray lubricant in the keyway (WD-40 will do), and pry off any weather covers. Gather a fresh drill bit for the best results as you are drilling metal.

  1. Insert the drill into the keyway.
  2. Gradually increase the size bit until the pins break.
  3. Use a flat-head screwdriver to rotate the cylinder.

The initial drill bit should be slightly wider in diameter than your keyway. You may not need to use more than one drill bit if you have a small keyway, or the lock on your lock box is very cheap. How to open a lock box without a key destructively does not get more complicated than this.

Key Takeaways:

  • This type of drilling requires a lock box with a keyed lock cylinder.
  • If the lock being drilled is not removable, consider prying or cutting.
  • Prep your lock before you drill it for the best results.

6. Prying 

The most accessible and simplest method for how to open a lock box without a code or a key is by prying. This will require a tool such as a crowbar or a pry bar, with solid construction and a flat end to wedge between the door and frame of your lock box.

In many cases, you can unlock a safe without a key this way, so a lock box is only going to be easier. There is not much to know about how to open a lock box without a key in this way. The only thing that is potentially complicated about prying is leverage and keeping the box in place.

When you cannot put the lock box in a vice or stop it from moving, prying is going to be very difficult. Instances, where the lock box is bolted down or secured firmly, may also not allow for the best positioning for leverage.

Key Takeaways:

  • Your lock box will likely be damaged or destroyed by prying
  • You need a tool that can fit in your lock box’s crevice, which is long enough to leverage.
  • Find a way to keep your lock box from moving as you pry.

7. Cutting

How to open a lock box without a key or a code is as easy as cutting the locking mechanism. If you have to remove a broken padlock, you can leave the lock box unharmed. But in most cases, the lock box will be unusable after it is opened by cutting.

Without considering padlock removal, the most common tool for cutting open a lock box is an angle grinder. In terms of power tools professionals use to open security devices, there is not one that holds a candle to the versatility, power, and price of an angle grinder.

An angle grinder might be overkill for most lock boxes, but if you are using a Dremel with a metal cutting blade or a reciprocating saw, you may run into snags. Less substantial tools or slower tools may wear down blades faster.

Key Takeaways:

  • Removing a padlock from a lock box does not have to damage the box itself.
  • If the lock is built into the lock box, cutting will be irreparably destructive.
  • An angle grinder is the ideal tool for cutting open a lock box.

Closing Words

How to open a lock box without a key or a code successfully depends on the tools you have and the type of locking mechanism. It is similar to dealing with a lost mailbox key but with a few more options based on the number lock variations and the low security of these devices.

If you want to know how to open a lock box without a key in a way that will preserve the box, you are looking at bypassing, shimming, picking, and decoding. Without the tools and specific knowledge it takes to pull off non-destructive entry, you will have to break the lock or the box.

The destructive entry includes drilling, prying, and cutting. If the lock cannot be replaced or is built into the lock box, this is the worst-case scenario. But to know your full list of service options, give United Locksmith a call, and we will show you how to open a lock box without a key.

Category: Commercial, Residential, Safety & Security

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