Home safes in high demand

DAYTONA BEACH -- "Don't stuff your mattress. Buy a safe."

That's what the sign reads in front of Boyer's Locksmith and Security in Orange City, which sells in-home safes. Owner Bruce Boyer said his safe sales have "definitely picked up."

Some people are telling me they're pulling their money out of the stock market, and others are concerned about an increase in crime," Boyer said. "We were selling one safe every two to three weeks, but we've sold three so far this week, and it's only Thursday."

Boyer sells models that bolt to the floor or are installed into the floor, with costs ranging from $700 to $2,000.

At AHC Locks & Safes in Ormond Beach, it's a similar story.

We're getting more people lately who are looking at safes (because of those concerns)," said Dyson Billings, operations manager at AHC Locks & Safes in Ormond Beach. "Banks are raising fees on depository boxes . . . and there is crime in neighborhoods that never had it before."

AHC has been selling safes since it opened in 1953, Billings said, and got into the locksmith side of the business in the 1970s. He estimates that about 75 percent of the people who come into the showroom don't buy right then.

But of those, about 90 percent eventually do buy a safe from us," he said.

The burglar- and fireproof household vaults start at $1,500 and go up from there. The smallest model AHC sells is about 15 in. by 12 in. by 12 in. and weighs 245 pounds, Billings said.

Despite residents' uneasiness, however, banks don't seem to be benefiting from rises in safe-deposit box rentals.

A lot of people are converting their cash to gold, silver and other precious metals, and they need a place to put them," said David Bridgeman, president of Pinnacle Bank in Orange City. "But we haven't seen any significant increase in safe-deposit box rentals at Pinnacle Bank."

Nor has Cynthia Ramirez, Volusia-Flagler president of Florida Capital Bank.

I haven't seen an increase at this time, but I bet as people do more of those things we'll see an increase," Ramirez said. "We have plenty of them available."