Unique Collection of Safes

Lands Heavily on Its Heirs

For half a century, locksmith Steve Lee's six humongous safes stood sentinel outside his shop, providing an amusing landmark in downtown Lawton, Okla.

But Lee died in 2000, taking the secret of the combinations with him and leaving Lee's family with a conundrum. How do you move six giant vaults that weigh more than a ton apiece? And move them, they must. The new shop owner is now demanding the Lee family remove the vaults so that he can build a parking lot.

"Our piggy bank is not large enough for them to be moved," said Randy Muirhead, Lee's son-in-law.

Lee collected the safes from banks, businesses and even from a farmer's field with the help of a wrecker tough enough to wrangle the steel and concrete monoliths. Getting rid of them has not been as easy. A recent attempt to move one of the cannonball safes proved too much for a hoist truck's 3,000-pound lift capacity. "The cannonball didn't move, but the crane did," said Clarence Weber, the new shop owner.

-- Sylvia Moreno

Glennis Lee and son-in-law Randy Muirhead stand by safes that Lee's husband collected.