Tourist's lucky guess cracks safe that had been locked for 40 years

A tourist visiting a small museum in Canada stunned onlookers recently when he managed to crack a safe that no one had been able to unlock for decades.

Stephen Mills was on a tour of the Vermilion Heritage Museum in Alberta with his family when he was shown the 2,000-pound safe, which is part of the museum’s collection, the Vermilion Standard reports.

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The safe was donated to the museum in the mid-1980s and had previously been used by the town’s Brunswick hotel, which closed in the 1970s, according to CBC.

However, the safe had not been opened since the 1970s and no one knew the code. Multiple attempts to crack the code over the years had been unsuccessful, according to the Standard.

Cue Stephen Mills, who jokingly put his ear to the lock and then turned the knob a few times. To everyone’s amazement, the door opened.

Stephen Mills was visiting the Vermilion Heritage Museum with his family when he cracked the safe that had been locked for 40 years.

Stephen Mills was visiting the Vermilion Heritage Museum with his family when he cracked the safe that had been locked for 40 years. (Chris Stead)

The BBC reports that the dial numbers on the lock run from zero to 60, so Mills used the combination 20-40-60. "Typical combination lock, three times clockwise - 20 - two times counterclockwise - 40 - once clockwise - 60, tried the handle and it went," he told the BBC.

Sadly, there was no hidden treasure inside the safe. Instead, Mills found some papers from 1977 and 1978. One of the papers was a pay sheet and the other was part of a restaurant order pad, according to the BBC. On the pad were receipts for a C$1.50 ($1.12) mushroom burger and a C$1 ($0.75) packet of cigarettes.

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“Yes our safe was opened. How exciting,” confirmed the museum, in a Facebook post, which included the front page of the Vermilion standard.

The museum is enjoying its time in the spotlight thanks to Mills’ safe-cracking skills. “Our little museum is getting some National attention this is great,” the museum added, in a subsequent Facebook post.

On his Facebook page, Mills was getting plenty of praise for solving the mystery of the museum's safe. "What luck? Well done young man," wrote one commenter. "You'll be the next 'oceans 14'. Awesome," quipped another.

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The safe is believed to have been bought in 1907, according to the BBC.

The safe once belonged to the Brunswick Hotel. (Chris Stead)

The safe once belonged to the Brunswick Hotel. (Chris Stead)

Citing University of Toronto Statistics Professor Jeffrey Rosenthal, author of “Knock on Wood: Luck, Chance, and the Meaning of Everything,” the BBC reports that the chance of correctly guessing the combination is 1 in 216,000 (assuming that the safe numbers run from 1 to 60). However, given that the safe used a combination lock, this could increase the chance of success to 1 in 8,000.

Canada continues to reveal its rich history. Last year, for example, a mysterious underground vault, was discovered on the grounds of the Nova Scotia Legislature in Canada.

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Multiple attempts to crack the safe's code over a number of decades had been unsuccessful.

Multiple attempts to crack the safe's code over a number of decades had been unsuccessful.

Last year, archaeologists also confirmed that a rare copper arrowhead discovered on a remote Canadian mountain is almost 900 years old. The arrowhead, which is at the tip of a perfectly preserved antler arrow, was found sticking out of an ice patch in Canada’s Yukon Territory in 2016.