Mystery of bank's vault is a shut-and-open case Classified ad finds combination to safe

April 14, 1993|By Sandy Banisky | Sandy Banisky,Staff Writer

All banks have vaults. Most banks have vaults they can open.

Last week, construction workers renovating the old Vermont Federal building accidentally shut the door to its room-sized safe. No one had the combination. The new tenant, Harbor Bank, faced the prospect of a grand opening next week with no place to put the money.

Larry Boltansky, one of the owners of the West Fayette Street building had three options: Pay a locksmith up to $10,000, scour Maryland prisons for a safecracker, or hunt down a Vermont Federal employee with a good memory.

He picked the cheapest legal course and ran an ad:

"Reward -- Vermont Federal former officials familiar with vault safe combination at 25 W. Fayette St. please call Larry."

Only one person responded to the ad that ran in The Sun classifieds and on the paper's back page.

But that was enough.

A 20-year Vermont Federal employee called Saturday to say she'd opened that vault daily for years, before the bank closed a half-dozen years ago. Monday she arrived at the building to open it one more time.

The woman, who asked Mr. Boltansky not to reveal her name, stopped by on her lunch hour. "I introduced myself. She introduced herself. She was a little bit suspicious. She wanted to make sure we weren't some guys breaking into the safe."

And then, without ceremony -- "Just me praying in the corner," Mr. Boltansky said -- she went to work.

The operation might take time, she warned. But in less than a minute, she had the door open. Mr. Boltansky didn't cheer, just sighed deeply and gave her the reward -- the size of which he wouldn't reveal. If she'd failed, the only way in would have been a high-tech operation involving diamond drill bits and cutting through steel walls, the locksmith had told him.

What if the door slams shut again before Harbor Bank moves in?

"We wrote down the combination," Mr. Boltansky said.

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