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The safe represents the absolute baseline of security. Before there were drones, cameras, and automated alarm systems, the safe was the primary means of protecting valuables from opportunistic criminals looking for an easy score.

Unfortunately, this history also means that there has been a long history of developing tools to get around the protections provided by a safe. Saws, drills, torches, and even explosives have been historically used to breach safe doors, as demonstrated by Hollywood’s bevy of heist films over the years.

This has created a kind of arms race between the sophistication of the safe and the tools required to bypass their security. Today, tool-resistant (referred to as TL) rated safes utilize a variety of failsafe mechanisms to ensure that your valuables are protected until the other elements of your security system are activated and the authorities are alerted.

There are several different types and grades for TL-rated safes that are capable of providing variable levels of protection for your goods, as Chris Eggers of CCSS explains in Chapter 13 of his book Securing Cannabis: A Comprehensive Guide To Increase Security, Reduce Costs, Reduce Liability, and Avoid Landmines. The type of safe an LCO may want to consider investing in depends on many factors, including local guidelines, cash flow, and the means they have at their disposal.

Local guidelines typically do not require specific TL ratings for the safes used by LCOs. Instead, they usually dictate whether a safe is required, the minimum weight, and whether it needs to be bolted to the floor or in a designated area on-premises. This furthers one of Eggers’ primary messages in the book: simply meeting requirements does not translate to creating a system that will secure your business.

TL ratings are given after a safe has undergone a rigorous standardized testing process to determine what tools can bypass protections and how long they take. TL ratings are provided by a name familiar to many – Underwriters Laboratories (UL) – which continually updates its testing procedures to incorporate the latest in safe-breaking techniques and technologies.

No safe is 100% impregnable, so the TL rating system categorizes safes into different grades based on how long it takes for a determined attacker to break through its protections using specific tools. The higher the rating, the longer it takes—a TL-15 safe offers a minimum of 15 minutes of resistance, while a TL-30 offers 30 minutes.

Beyond TL ratings, UL also provides TRTL (tool and torch-resistant) ratings, which provide a significantly higher level of protection. TRTL-rated safes can keep their contents secure for 60+ minutes against even the most sophisticated and severe threats.

These ratings are significant because of the role the safe plays in your security system. While a safe by itself can be broken into at the attacker’s leisure, its role in an integrated security system is to provide a roadblock that delays the theft of valuables until your security guards can stop them or the proper authorities have been alerted and arrive on-premises.

The chapter ends with a comprehensive checklist of the questions an LCO or stakeholder should ask themselves or their security contractor when deciding what kind of safe is appropriate for them. To gain access to this checklist, as well as every other piece of information you need to create an effective and compliant security system, we recommend checking out the full book. Securing Cannabis: A Comprehensive Guide To Increase Security, Reduce Costs, Reduce Liability, and Avoid Landmines is now available here!