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Buying a Safe

Buying a safe is a wise investment for those with easily portable valuables. Items like jewelry, coin collections, furs, and cameras are easy for thieves to fence, thus making appealing targets. Experienced burglars know where to look for these things too, so your favorite hiding place might not be as secure as you think. A bank safe deposit box is the most secure place to store your valuables, but these tend to be small, only able to hold a few items.

Home safes are another option. Before you buy a safe, make sure you understand the different levels of protection. All good safes will have Underwriters Laboratories, or UL, ratings. These ratings determined how fire-resistant a safe is and fall into the following categories:

Class C Safe -- Protects paper documents for up to 1 hour at temperatures up to 1700F

Class B Safe -- Protects paper documents for up to 2 hours at temperatures up to 1850F

Class A Safe -- Protects paper documents for up to 4 hours at 2000F.

Under most circumstances, a class B or C safe is fine for adequately protecting irreplaceable papers. There are specialized safes available to protect data storage devices and computer disks.

A good safe should also protect against damage caused by a collapsing building.

If you don't feel that you need something as big and bulky as a safe, you may consider a money chest. Money chests are usually secured to your house's structure. They are typically smaller than safes, but they are also more expensive. Since they are smaller, they can potentially be pried from a frame wall and carried off by the thief for later cracking. This is why, if you are considering a money chest, you should get one that can be secured into a masonry floor or wall.

Combination safes, which are often featured on television, are popular choices. These safes are made up of two parts: a sturdy money chest inside an equally sturdy fire-resistant safe. They have a thick steel door and walls, along with a combination lock that includes a relocking device. They can be bolted to your floor or set in concrete, thus ensuring a burglar cannot move them.

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