A 92-year old French woman was locked in a bank vault for a 23-hour stretch after bank employees forgot about her.
The woman, who was described as being in frail condition, went inside the vault to access her safety deposit box. Her son eventually reported her missing after he attempted to contact her and could not locate her whereabouts.
The incident occurred at BNP bank in Rennes, western France. The bank had closed for the weekend, leaving the woman, who was identified only as Germaine, in the locked space in complete darkness. She had no access to food or water.
Germaine’s son grew suspicious at 7:30 Sunday morning, and called the police to investigate. After going over the woman’s activities on the day of her disappearance, they determined that Germaine might still be at the bank.
Pascal Serrand, police commissioner of Rennes, said, “Her son said he remembered she was going to the shops, the cemetery and the bank on the morning she disappeared. She had no mobile phone to locate her, so we retraced her movements and concluded she must still be in the bank. A manager arrived and opened the vault and we found her inside. She was tired and thirsty but otherwise in good shape and very polite, and very pleased we had found her.”
While vault lock-ins remain a rare occurrence, similar incidents have occurred sporadically over recent years. In February, a man in Arlington, Texas was locked in a similar chamber for hours when a prank went wrong. After a locksmith failed to open the vault door, the fire department eventually showed up and broke through the 1-foot concrete wall.
In 2009, a 68-year-old woman in Cologne, Germany was also forced to spend the night in a bank vault after using the safe-deposit box.