Booby Traps

Timothy McSweeney’s reporter Suzanne Yeagley asked veteran locksmithing and safecracking expert Ken Doyle if he ever looked inside:

A: I NEVER look. It’s none of my business. Involving yourself in people’s private affairs can lead to being subpoenaed in a lawsuit or criminal trial. Besides, I’d prefer not knowing about a client’s drug stash, personal porn, or belly button lint collection.

When I’m done I gather my tools and walk to the truck to write my invoice. Sometimes I’m out of the room before they open it. I don’t want to be nearby if there is a booby trap.

Q: Why would there be a booby trap?

A: The safe owner intentionally uses trip mechanisms, explosives or tear gas devices to “deter” unauthorized entry into his safe. It’s pretty stupid because I have yet to see any signs warning a would-be culprit about the danger.

Over the years I’ve found several tear gas devices in safes and vaults I’ve opened. These devices were marketed with names like “BEAVER” and “BADGER.” There are safecrackers that collect them.1

“Booby traps were set at entrances to an elaborate dead-wood shelter built by…suspects that could have caught the attention of children,” Utah County sheriff’s Sgt. Spencer Cannon said in April 2012:

The structure was easy to see, but the booby traps could have been overlooked by everyone except a military-trained officer like James Schoeffler of the U.S. Forest Service, who was on a routine patrol along Big Springs Trail last week when he noticed the trip wires. Schoeffler was trained in hazardous device detection.2

“When locating and disarming booby traps an [Explosive Ordnance Disposal] EOD officer not only understand the mind of the enemy, but must also follow the ten commandments of survival,” notes The Military Yearbook 1996:

Concealment – charge and mechanism could be hidden and their surroundings look completely undisturbed. Constricted localities – doorways, alleys, windows, fire breaks and tracks must always be considered a potential trap for men or vehicles. Concentration of traps – both real and dummies may be positioned close together and they may be linked. Double bluff – an obvious trap may mask a well-concealed one. Inconvenience – clearing road blocks, demolition, furniture or litter in bunkers may trigger traps. Curiosity – Never touch desirable items like cameras, binoculars, food, drink or weapons. Everyday operations – normal actions done without thinking such as opening and closing doors or windows, switching on lights or using telephones can all be fatal. Attraction – be circumspect when approaching an incident. Terrorists often use two delayed action traps, the first to kill or wound the public or security forces and the second to target the accident and emergency services. Alternative methods of firing – a trap may have a delay mechanism and an anti-handling device designed specifically to attack the EOD expert. For example, a device in a truck may have an obvious timer visible through a window, but behind the explosive is a mechanism initiated by a photoelectric cell which fires when sacks of explosive have been moved and it is exposed to light. Variety – many different types of device are often used in one locality to confuse the EOD expert.3

Related links

1 Suzanne Yeagle, “Interviews With People Who Have Interesting Or Unusual Jobs: Ken Doyle, Safecracker,” Timothy McSweeney, 20 March 2012, at (retrieved: 3 November 2012).

2 Scott Baker, “‘Spiked boulder’: Dangerous booby traps found on popular Utah trail,” The Blaze, 24 April 2012, at (retrieved: 3 November 2012).

3 The Military Yearbook 1996 (Westport, Connecticut: H.S. Stuttman, Inc., 1995), p. 43.

Related videos

“Private Snafu ~ Booby Traps,” Pdbds video at, (retrieved: 3 November 2012). (Watch it here)

“The same bomb joke: Believe me, if all those endearing young charms,” Sebastian7983 video at, (retrieved: 3 July 2012). (Watch it here)

“Bugs Bunny: Wile E. Coyote – Super Genius – My Name is Mud,” TheSkewsMe video at, (retrieved: 3 November 2012). (Watch it here)

“Bible Salesmen – Paper Moon (3/8) Movie CLIP (1973) HD,” movieclips video at, (retrieved: 30 August 2013). (Watch it here)

“‘Paper Moon’ Five and Ten,” henriflix video at, (retrieved: 30 August 2013). (Watch it here)

“$20 Bill – Paper Moon (5/8) Movie CLIP (1973) HD,” movieclips video at, (retrieved: 30 August 2013). (Watch it here)

Related books

Leave a Reply

Stop censorship