The headline in Lower Bavaria is usually not a place that appears in national news. But in mid-May, the community of 4,200 people gained national attention. Strangers broke into the town hall and stole a 200 kilogram safe. They rappelled him down through a window and took him away. Annoying but spectacular action. The police in charge of Passau are still looking for eyewitnesses.
The work of the Tittlinger Panzerknacker shows once again that even massive safes are not safe. This is bad news for those wondering if they should keep their money at home for fear of negative interest rates. This is a much debated question in Internet forums: What do I get from the bank? What will the bank get from me? How much does a safe cost? And what are the alternatives? It is not so easy.
Either way, the security industry is booming. At Burg-Wächter, one of the market leaders in Germany, sales have grown by double digits since 2016. “Above all, the demand for higher quality certified safes with burglary and fire protection is increasing dramatically” , says Dietmar Schake, sales manager. “During the pandemic, the need increased further because the uncertainty increased.”
Negative interest rates are the latest, but not the only reason for the strong growth. There is the fear of burglars and generally the worry of what will happen to your own money. Bank safes are regularly full – and they are shrinking. Many institutes are closing branches and the number of establishments fell by around 40% between 2004 and 2019 alone. This means that the lockers are no longer needed. In addition, people inherit more, it is not only money, but also watches, jewelry and documents of personal or monetary value.
Neighbors should not see when the safe is delivered
“It can be observed time and again that when the economy is bad, the need for security increases,” says Schake. The money is either exchanged for gold and kept in a safe place, or in cash directly in the safe. Depending on the needs and the supplier, customers have the choice between movable safes that also fit a narrow filing cabinet, safes built into the wall or floor, or safes weighing several tons, which ‘It is better to have a structural engineer installed. in advance.
The trend is also known from competitor Hartmann Tresore. Private customer activity has grown by up to 14% since the start of the pandemic, the Paderborn company said. Negative interest rates are certainly one of the reasons; what exactly motivates customers is not known. “Safety is always a matter of discretion,” says Markus Hartmann, Sales Director. It starts with the fact that customers don’t want their neighbors to see when a safe is delivered. “For this reason, we only deliver safes with vehicles that do not have company lettering.”
But what about negative interest rates? They are now billed by around 450 banks in the form of custody fees averaging minus 0.5%. So far, new customers have been mostly affected, but banks are now also trying it with existing customers, despite resistance from consumer advocates. So, is a safe a serious alternative?
An example: if you have 20,000 euros in the bank, you will have to pay 100 euros per year with an interest rate of 0.5%. The credit itself is protected by the legal deposit guarantee – it is required throughout the EU, for an amount of 100,000 euros per saver and per bank.
The cost of steel cabinets depends on the type, size, security level and fire protection class, the higher the price, the higher the price. A simple safe box is available from 100 euros and must be anchored to the wall or the floor – otherwise home insurance will not pay. A wall safe (from 200 euros) must be walled up, which incurs additional costs. The owner and his insurance company assume the risk of someone breaking the steel container. Especially since the example of Tittling is not an isolated case, stolen safes are repeatedly recovered from lakes and rivers or found in the forest.
Then there are, in addition to the banks themselves, start-ups that want to fill the gaps in the branches and offer their own lockers. At both Trisor and Asservato, the smallest safe costs around 240 euros per year.
You need proof where the money is coming from
However, it could be difficult if someone wants to deposit their money safely in a bank. The case is not that rare, according to the association Die Deutsche Kreditwirtschaft. From August 9, customers will have to prove where the money is coming from. This applies for occasional customers from 2,500 euros, for existing customers from 10,000 euros. A spokesperson for the association explains that proof of payment for accounts of other credit institutions or proof of sale of gold or foreign currency are suitable. And if there is no written evidence, it is up to the institute to assess whether they believe the client’s statements – whether they know the client. Otherwise, he must refuse the deposit.
So if you are interested in alternatives to the account, you need to weigh it down. Not only the one-off costs and annual fees are important, but also the insured amounts. Depending on the provider, negative interest rates can still be mathematically cheaper. In this case, it is only a good whose price cannot be evaluated: confidence.