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Mystery Of Sealed Safe Revealed After Hobbyist Safecracker Spins The Dial!

Bookstore worker standing in front of an unopened safe, about to reveal the contents.

When Red Emma’s recently opened their establishment at 3128 Greenmount Avenue in the Waverly neighborhood of Baltimore, Maryland, it came with a mystery. Specifically, an unopened safe. The store sprung up around the safe, using it as decoration. It became a conversation piece since no one had the combination to open it. One day the co-op members made a plea on Twitter, offering safecrackers a chance to open the safe.

What began as a joke became a crowdfunded trip for a Winnipeg safecracker named Rick Ammazzini. Rick is a transit driver in Winnipeg. He has been working at his hobby of safe-cracking for the last dozen years. He belongs to an online group of people who like to tinker with the art of lock-picking and safe-cracking. Rick’s friends in the group had been teasing him to give it a try. He joked back, telling them he would give it a shot if they funded the trip. The rest, as they say, is history.

Now you’re wondering what was in the safe. But we won’t tell you yet (although you can skip down to that part if you want). When Rick began a crowdfunding campaign, it only took his friends four days to raise $1,300 to cover the airfare for the trip. He landed in Baltimore and immediately visited Red Emma’s Bookstore and Cafe.

After sizing up the safe, he began working in earnest. After five hours, with no luck, Rick went to fellow hobbyists in his online group. With their combined knowledge, another five hours later, the safe was open. Later, he told CTV News in Winnipeg: “Usually this lock should only take an hour or an hour and a half, I was met with some trouble, the lock wasn’t performing the way it should have been.” 

The bookstore has been in operation since 2004 but just moved to the Waverly location in late 2022. After opening the safe, the contents were not what they anticipated. The safe was empty except for some random office supplies and one lonely pay stub for $5.00 in wages dated 1924. Since the original tweet offered an equal split of the contents, Rick walked away from this adventure with a few paperclips for his trouble. But, hey, paperclips can be a lock-picker’s best friend, right? This job certainly wasn’t all it was cracked up to be!

Red Emma’s Bookstore and Coffee House is a cooperative endeavor. They boast an array of books, a relaxing atmosphere, and coffee. The worker-run establishment employs sustainability principles by minimizing waste, recycling, and reusing. They promote the business as a safe place, meaning racism, sexism, or other such discriminatory and unacceptable behavior is not tolerated. They also support the independent publishing ecosystem, including presses and distributors that share their values.

Here’s a video with more information:

You can find the source of this story’s featured image here.

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