Does Your Small Business Need a Time Lock Safe?

Does Your Small Business Need a Time Lock Safe?

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Nearly 9 percent of small businesses experience robberies each year. This leads to loss of money or valuable products and can also create trauma or other serious issues for the employees involved. But there are ways for small businesses to avoid some of these incidents before they begin.

Physical security products like safes protect money and valuables from physical theft. But traditional combination or key lock safes may not deter as many criminals as you’d like, since some may simply attempt to force your employees to open them.

If you want to sidestep this issue to take your employees out of the equation, you might consider a time lock safe or time delay safe. These products require more than just a combination or key to open. So how do they work and how can they protect certain small businesses? Here’s a quick guide.

What Is a Time Lock Safe?

A time lock safe looks like a basic combination safe. But when you enter the combination, the safe will not open right away. Instead, it is designed to open only at a specific time, or after a short delay.

Businesses that need to access cash or valuables at the same time each day or week can set the safe to open only at that particular time, as long as the combination is entered correctly. But other businesses can simply opt for a safe that opens after a short delay. Most of these safes allow you to set a specific time limit, from about a minute to several hours. So once you enter the combination, you have to wait for that amount of time to pass before the safe opens.

How Can Small Businesses Benefit from Using One?

Basically, this type of safe is meant to deter robberies at businesses or financial institutions. If potential robbers know that the business has a safe that will not open right away even if they can force an employee to enter the combination, they aren’t likely to target that business.

“What that means is they put in the combination and it’s not going to open for 20 minutes, no matter what you do. There is no override code for it,” says Wayne Winton of Tri County Locksmith Services. “So that tells the criminals, ‘Okay, this place has a time lock safe. I’m not going to wait around for that. I’m going to move onto the next building.’”

Of course, proper signage is also important so robbers know that your business is equipped with this type of technology. But the idea is that the safe and corresponding signs will deter people from targeting your business in the first place, since they know they won’t be able to get their valuables and leave quickly, thus lessening their chances of getting away without getting caught.

Some people have expressed concerns about this type of safe though. Their argument is that some people who attempt to rob businesses aren’t thinking clearly and aren’t likely to heed those warnings or understand why employees don’t have access to the money or valuables they’re seeking. So if employees can’t give them what they want, they could end up in even more danger. However, time lock safes have become increasingly common in recent years. So there’s a good chance that these safes and the signs associated with them provide more benefits than downsides.

What Types of Businesses Can Benefit from a Time Lock Safe?

Generally, time lock and time delay safes are most beneficial for businesses that keep a lot of cash on hand. This includes banks or credit unions, convenience stores and pawn shops. It can also be beneficial for businesses that carry expensive or valuable products that thieves might target, like jewelry stores. Even some pharmacies have started using them to protect controlled substances. For instance, Walgreens rolled them out at stores in several states years ago.

Phil Caruso, a Walgreens spokesman, said at the time.“We originally installed the time-delayed safes in Washington State in 2009 and have expanded their use in other states after seeing a decrease in pharmacy robberies.”

It’s less common. But some small businesses could also use time lock or time delay safes to prevent employee theft as well. If you’re concerned about employees removing cash or valuables, this type of product could prevent that. They’d have to wait a longer period of time to access its contents.

Where Can You Buy a Time Lock Safe?

If you’re interested in purchasing a time lock safe, you can find products in several sizes and styles from online retailers like Amazon and Wayfair. These are usually best suited for very small businesses that only need to store cash or small valuables. And you can often purchase them for just a few hundred dollars.

You can also work with a local locksmith or security company in your community to find a safe that fits your specific needs. These professionals also help you bolt your safe down. And they’ll find the right spot so it’s secure as possible.


Annie Pilon Annie Pilon is a Senior Staff Writer for Small Business Trends and has been a member of the team for 12 years. Annie covers feature stories, community news and in-depth, expert-based guides. She has a bachelor’s degree from Columbia College Chicago in Journalism and Marketing Communications.