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Veteran Winnipeg safe breaker cracks decades-old mystery at Garrick Hotel

Click to play video: 'Veteran Winnipeg safe breaker cracks open decades-old mystery at Garrick Hotel'
Veteran Winnipeg safe breaker cracks open decades-old mystery at Garrick Hotel
An exciting night at a downtown Winnipeg bar - as an expert safe cracker finally broke into a safe that had been locked for decades. Global's Katherine Dornian has more on his attempt - and what was inside. – Dec 10, 2023

A veteran safe breaker cracked a decades-old mystery safe at Winnipeg’s historic Garrick Hotel on Saturday.

The safe had been there since at least the 1990s and no one had ever been able to open it.

Winnipegger Rick Ammazzini has been cracking safes for over a decade and knows how to read the subtle cues from the mechanisms inside.

“The dial doesn’t always tell you what kind of lock is inside. So that’s where experience comes in. Because depending on the kind of lock, it changes your dialling sequence. Do you start to the right, do you start to the left, is there three wheels, is there four wheels, sometimes there’s only two wheels.” he said.

Ammazzini makes a living as a bus driver in the city but in his spare time, he travels all around to province to open safes, even going as far as Baltimore and Las Vegas.

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“It’s a lot of patience, getting the data and knowing what to do with that data that you’re getting from reading the lock dial.” he added.

Two other locksmiths have tried to crack into the safe at the hotel but were unsuccessful.

Ammazzini said his method is a very simple lock and it takes just over 30 minutes to crack it.

Unfortunately, the decade-old safe was empty, with nothing inside but dust. Ammazzini said although the safes tend to be empty it’s the puzzle of doing it that he enjoys.

“We’re not looking for what’s in the safe, we’re trying to see, can we get this open without damaging it.” he said.

This is the 53rd safe he has opened this year and even with no untold riches inside, the satisfaction of doing what no one else has been able to do is reward enough for Ammazzini.

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“You went there, you decided you’re gonna try this thing, and you did it. So it’s the feeling of completion, that you set out to do what you wanted to do.”

—  With files from Global’s Katherine Dornian

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