February 6, 2009

Woman locked overnight in bank vault

A 68-year-old woman spent the night in the vault of a German bank after the time-locked door was mistakenly closed while she was inside, police said.

Police said the woman was inside the Sparkasse bank vault in Cologne retrieving items from her safety deposit box near the bank's closing time when an employee who believed the vault to be empty closed the door, The Daily Telegraph reported Friday.

The woman called bank officials from the emergency phone inside the vault and they determined the time lock on the vault was scheduled to open 14 hours later, at 8 a.m. the next day. Officials said breaking into the vault would have taken a longer amount of time than waiting for the lock to open on schedule.

A forceful opening of the door would have taken much longer than the next morning. The woman agreed to wait until the door opened by itself, Cologne police spokesman Christoph Gilles said.

The woman was said to be in good condition upon her release the following morning, The Telegraph said.

We regret the error that led to this unfortunate situation. The incident is being internally investigated, a bank spokesman said.