What could be locked inside this mysterious, unopened safe hauled out of downtown Ann Arbor business?
Lizzy Alfs | AnnArbor.com
Where's Geraldo Rivera when you need him?
Rivera, who famously hosted a TV special in the 1980s to open Al Capone's long-lost vault, would surely be intrigued by a unopened safe recently found at a downtown Ann Arbor market.
The massive safe — believed to be at least 25 years old — is over six feet tall, three feet wide and three feet deep, but the owner who inherited the mysterious box doesn't know how to open it.
Tower Mini Market owner Nabeel Gneym is puzzled about what could be inside the safe after he helped remove it today from his convenience store on the first floor of the Tower Plaza Condominium.
After finding two gold bracelets underneath the safe, Gneym is convinced there must be something of value inside. But the contents of the safe are a mystery to Gneym, who said it had not been moved in the building for years.
It took five men, a pallet jack and more than two hours to move the safe from the inside of the convenience store to the sidewalk outside, Gneym said. The Fichet-Bauche brand safe weighs an estimated 8,500 pounds.
Gneym said the tattered safe was positioned against a wall in his store when he moved into the space at 340 Maynard Street in May.
When Gneym signed the lease to move his mini market into the building, he said he was told he could keep the safe.
“The landlord, when he leased it to me, he said, ‘You can have the safe and whatever is in it as long as you’re willing to move it,’” Gneym said.
But in an effort to create more space in his market, Gneym recruited several men to help him move the safe outside.
During the move, Gneym said he found two gold bracelets underneath the bottom of the safe and he took them to a shop to be appraised.
“I went to a gold shop and then I sold them. If there is something around it, there must be something in it," he said.
After attempts with a hammer, a torch and several other tools, Gneym couldn't open the mysterious safe.
The market's current space used to be occupied by Matthew Hoffmann Jewelry Design. The store relocated to Nickel's Arcade and was renamed to Ten Fine Jewelry & Design three years ago, said owner Kris Keller.
Gneym previously estimated that the safe hadn't been moved since 1969, but Keller said Matthew Hoffmann bought two safes sometime in the 1980's. Along the way, the combination was lost for the safe that was left in the building, Keller said.
"When we went to move, the safe was too large to take so we left it because we didn't have the combination or the key," Keller said. "If there's something in it, I don't know, but it was going to cost us $1,000 for a safe-cracker to get into that."
Bill Loy, owner of the Campus Student Bike Shop next door to the Tower Mini Market, said his jackhammer will break through the barrier with no problem.
Loy said they’ll likely attempt to solve the mystery using his jackhammer tomorrow.
Despite Loy's confidence, Keller said there is no chance a jackhammer will break through the 8,500-pound safe.
"They're never going to get into that thing with a jackhammer. The thing is a tank," Keller said. "It's called a four-body safe because you can literally fit four bodies into it."
When asked whether they could crack the safe, Vogel's Lock & Safe said in a Twitter message, "Shouldn't be a problem however they used a hammer, torch and other tools, which will make it more difficult."