Do you ever leave your house unlocked, even for only a few minutes? How about your car?
I never do. In fact — and you can call me obsessive-compulsive if you want — I make sure I always lock our house with the deadbolt and not just the automatic lock, and I try the door handle after I’m done to be certain. I also hit the locking button on our car key and hear the little chirp twice and then pull on the door handle to make absolutely sure the lock is engaged. I have keys in hand before I do either of these things to make sure that I’m not locking myself out, too. These are habits I’ve had for as long as I can remember.
I mention this because of this article I ran across about crime statistics in one upper middle class midwestern suburb in a recent month. All of the 25 cases of automobile theft in that month involved unlocked cars, and half of the house thefts involved unlocked homes. That’s mind-boggling to me. And the house break-in data is skewed, because of some unique circumstances — typically, according to the article, an astonishing 80 percent of such thefts involve unlocked cars and houses. Why would so many people leave their cars and houses unlocked? Are they worried about locking themselves out? Do they think they would be inconvenienced by the few seconds it takes to fish a key out of pants pockets or purses and unlocking their car or house? Do they think they’re going to be gone for only a few minutes and there’s no risk? Or are they just trusting souls who are convinced their neighborhoods are totally safe at all times?
According to the article, too, the identity of the criminals has shifted. Before, teenagers looking for a little pocket money were often the perpetrators of such petty theft; now it’s inevitably adult opiate addicts who are looking for money that will allow them to get a quick fix. Check out the chilling video surveillance footage accompanying the article, of the guy quickly checking the doors on cars. According to the article, the thieves try to minimize their risk — in cars, they’ll look for an unlocked car and when they find one they’ll steal loose change and whatever appears to be valuable and be out in a few seconds, and in houses they’ll head directly to the bedroom, steal any visible small electronics they see, take any jewelry and money from the bedroom, and get out of the house in a few minutes — so being away from your unlocked house or car for only a few minutes isn’t going to provide any protection. And the article notes that having a dog isn’t a sure-fire thief deterrent, either.
Why take a needless risk? As the title of the article states: Lock your damn doors! (And make sure your kids do, too!)