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Thread: Do locked doors really reduce crime and crime related issues?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
    Apr 2003
    Packing to move out of the icebox.

    Do locked doors really reduce crime and crime related issues?

    A crime prevention coordinator that I know pushes the idea of making sure your car and house doors are locked, everything desirable is removed out of your car, and that your windows are either locked or pinned so they don’t open more than a few inches. Also, when in doubt, call the cops.

    On one hand, I agree with that advice, but I wonder if that is only half of it. Let’s face it. If someone wanted to get into our homes to take something or hurt someone, simply breaking a window would allow that to happen. To me, it almost feels like we are hiding from criminal activity.

    There is something ‘different’ about safe neighborhoods were people feel more comfortable with leaving their doors unlocked and not worrying about the kids running around the neighborhood. Those who commit regular crimes are less likely to do so in those areas because they know the neighborhood is not only watching, but that they will get caught or worse. No, I don’t think that we should all be sitting on our front porch with a shot gun, but I think that true prevention needs to be done at an earlier level. Let’s not just prevent a crime from occurring, lets discourage those who intent to commit crimes from ever entering into the neighborhood.

    Now, does anyone have any suggestions on how to do that? Do you think that locked doors is enough?

    What about public beatings of those who commit drug deals or violent crimes if they can be caught in the act by the neighbors? (I am kidding… kind of)
    "A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom. Time makes more converts than reason." - Thomas Paine Common Sense.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian ursus's avatar
    Dec 2008
    Northern Utah
    Some cop friends of mine tell me that most petty crimes and break-ins in a neighborhood are perpetrated by residents of the neighborhood. If that's true, the best thing you can do to protect yourself before and after the fact is know your neighborhood and your neighbors.
    "...I would never try to tick Hink off. He kinda intimidates me. He's quite butch, you know." - Maister

  3. #3
    Lock your house and car-yeah, sure that's a good idea and will give you peace of mind. As for anything else, it doesn't help. As my cop dad said "if somebody wants something enough, they are going to get it. All you are going to do is slow them down a bit. Plus, if it's a car, it's give you a higher repair bill if you get it back."

    As for public floggings, I hope we have gotten past that point. Besides we have boxing, ultimate fighting, football, hockey and lacrosse to satisfy our public bloodlust.
    When did I go from Luke Skywalker to Obi-Wan Kenobi?

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Coragus's avatar
    May 2002
    Kzoo . . . for now!
    A couple years back, my neighborhood had a rash of auto breakins. Parking in the street is legal, so they'd just go from car to car and try the doors. If a door was locked, they moved on. If it opened, they got in, took something, and left a note for the owner saying they should lock their doors in the future.

    So, yeah, it helps.
    The cookies are worth the drive

  5. #5
    Jul 2008
    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis View post
    What about public beatings of those who commit drug deals or violent crimes if they can be caught in the act by the neighbors? (I am kidding… kind of)
    When I hear something like this mentioned, I always think of Singapore. Their harsh punishments are definitely a deterrent and have created the cleanest and safest urban area in the world. Sure, I don't agree with everything they do but there's a lot of good ideas to be found there.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
    May 2005
    New Town
    Locked doors definitely help in my neighborhood. And gates and cars, too. Its generally quite a safe area, but I also live downtown so there is a lot of foot traffic and people coming and going. A petty thief takes advantage of this scenario to “operate in broad daylight” as it were, appearing as if they know what they are doing and gaining entry to peoples’ homes through unlocked front doors or gates. A neighbor up the street was robbed last summer while she worked in the yard outback. Clearly the thief had seen her coming and going, noted she was out there working and just waltzed in. It didn’t help that she had workers coming and going in the week prior. Could have been one of those folks, or simply that the other neighbors did not think about a stranger going in her house as they figured it was a worker. Just look like you know what you are doing and few people ask questions.

    My son had two bikes stolen out of our yard because the gate, while closed, was not locked. Now I lock it all the time. Kind of a drag, but better than replacing yet another bike.

    In my area, most of the theft is petty – small items that can be quickly pawned for a little cash. Other than that, I feel very safe. I walk around at night all the time without any issue and there is no drug activity or anything like that in my immediate neighborhood.

    But for the record, we don’t lock our cars usually. Sometimes its just cause I forget, but also because there is not much of value in them, nor are they themselves worth a whole lot. Never had any problem with that for the 4 years we have lived in this house.
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Zoning Goddess's avatar
    Sep 1999
    400 miles from Orlando
    I always lock my car. It's like wearing a seat belt, it's what I was taught growing up.

    As for doors to the house, I always lock those except when my kid was younger and running around our neighborhood, he and his friends could come in and out all they wanted. No problem there.

    The one time I was glad I usually locked the doors was 20+ yrs ago when a salesman came to my door and I declined his pitch and locked the front door, then went into the kitchen, I heard someone trying the door (locked) from the carport into the kitchen, and called 911. He and his merry band of "overstock meat" salesmen were escorted out of the neighborhood. I hate to think what could have happened in that normally "very safe" neighborhood.

    Yes, locking up is good. So is having a loud dog, non-opaque fencing covered with thorny vines, and a good home alarm system.

  8. #8
    Super Moderator kjel's avatar
    Dec 2005
    Wishing I were in Asia somewhere!
    Blog entries
    Where I live, not much happens. I could leave the car unlocked and the sunroof open and nothing would happen. Half the time the inner door to the apartment is unlocked (the outer door closes and locks automatically).

    Where I work....let's just say that I work in the 'hood. I have a black Chevy Impala which seems to be a deterrent on its own. However, when it's parked on the street nothing is left in the car and it's locked and alarm on. I am frequently in the field visiting my properties and project sites and when I leave the car I leave my purse in the trunk and I keep my cell phone and keys in my pocket. The less you look like you have something of value, the less likely you are to be a target. Two of my coworkers have had cars stolen in the past 6 months off of streets that I have projects going on.

    Calling the cops does zero. The only way they come out immediately is if someone is getting their ass beat down, an in-progress break in, a shooting, or a motor vehicle accident. Other than that if you are a victim of a crime you have to take yourself down to the precinct to file a report. I look at a lot of properties for acquisition purposes and always go out with my GC...he's well trained in krav maga and will don a pair of lead lined gloves before we enter a vacant or abandoned structure. He also has a pretty wicked knife strapped to his leg as well. It's really not a joke. While I do not fear for my safety, I have to be aware of what's going on around me at all times.

    Case in point: I was on a van tour of vacant/abandoned property in my target service area with Housing & Economic Development and the Code Enforcement consultant (from out of state, suburban type). We were in a city marked van. We drove halfway up one block, stopped to record some addresses while we were in the van and a man standing in the street let off an air horn. We tell the driver "Let's go." The consultant asks "Who carries an air horn around? Were they blowing it at us?" We tell her that he was blowing it because of us since he probably has some other people doing "business" on the block and didn't know what we were looking at. Sure enough we get a little further up the block and see his group of guys scatter when we drive by. She asked why we don't call the cops. We laughed and said it was the same reason why we don't call code enforcement.
    "He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" Jeremiah 22:16

  9. #9
    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
    May 2005
    Metro Detroit
    This is like asking if wearing condoms reduces the chance of getting pregnant.

    Sure it may not be 100% effective, but it does a pretty damn good job.
    "I'm very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany"

  10. #10
    Cyburbian WSU MUP Student's avatar
    Mar 2007
    Lowering the PCI in the Hills
    There are not many people parking on the street in my neighborhood but it gets much more prevalent the closer you get to downtown, and looking through the police blotter, petty theft from cars also gets more prevalent the closer you get to downtown. The blotter usually mentions that the car was left unlocked and it always astonishes me what folks will leave in an unlocked car: iPads, laptops, expensive bags/wallets/purses/sunglasses, cell phones... I personally never lock my car this time of year though because I drive a Jeep and when the soft top is on it, if somebody wants to get in, I'd rather them open the door than slice the top.

    Last fall there was a rash of home invasions in our general area like the one that wahday describes where the homeowner was home but working in the backyard but the front door or garage was unlocked. One of the things that is nice about our street is that most of the garages face the back or the side and I have yet to see a report of somebody being burglarized through an open garage right on our block. I think the orientation of the garages may help that out.

    In the end though, I agree with michaelskis that if a thief really wants in, they will find a way. I think the #1 biggest deterrent of a break-in at my house is that one of my neighbors is always home (besides his weekly walk to the grocery store with his stolen shopping cart, I've only seen him leave his house 2 times in the 3 years we've lived next to him), is incredibly nosy, knows everybody in the entire neighborhood, and watches absolutely EVERYTHING that goes on from his den which faces the street and is surrounded by windows. Two of my other adjacent neighbors have similar behavior. Getting to know the people in your neighborhood (you don't have to actually like them) probably helps out more than anything.
    "Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost." - 1980 Republican presidential candidate Ronald Reagan

  11. #11
    Cyburbian SW MI Planner's avatar
    Feb 2002
    Not sure if I want to publicly say if I lock my doors or not. Um, yah, they are double deadbolted and I have a security system

    A local business has a sign on its doors saying something like "do not entice passerbys, please lock your vehicle and keep valuables out of sight" or something like that. Seriously, so it would be MY fault if my car got broken into because I "tempted" them?!

    But yes, I lock my doors. Like ZG, it's second nature for me.

  12. #12
    Growing up, we never locked the doors until dad lost his job and had to go to the unemployment office in the Town Next DoorTM. Almost Newark in its many ahem qualities, dad became alarmed at what (and who) lived nearby. The doors were ever and henceforth locked 'unless in use' per the old man's instructions. Sizing up the basement door, dad determined it was not sufficient to hold off possible burglars or other ne'er-do-wells and proceeded to erect various enhancements, including steels bars and two-by-fours such that it could take ten minutes to use the door.

    I was by then wise enough not to comment on the fact that the basement casement windows were vulnerable, lest he proceed to address those as well. By the time I came home from freshman year of college, the old fool had removed the windows and filled the opening with concrete. Mom was not amused.

    As for me, the Tacoma's door locks are broken so I can't lock it even if I wanted to. (Indeed, I had to call a lock service once because I was locked out of it, WITH the key.) At home, we do mostly keep the doors locked, but I refuse to become a captive to fear as I have personally seen what that can do to someone.
    Je suis Charlie

  13. #13
    Cyburbian dw914er's avatar
    Oct 2009
    Southern California
    Two of my former cars had dead door lock actuators, so I rarely would go through the trouble of locking the doors. My dad's jeep also has broken locks, so we never lock that one. So far I haven't been robbed. I've been under the mindset that if a thief wants something bad enough, they'll get it. It's honestly not that hard to open most door locks, so you're better off trying to not to give a thief a reason break in.

    My roommates also had a hard time remembering to lock our apartment when I lived in SLO. Luckily we didn't have an issue with theives, but it probably makes alot more sense to keep your residence locked. You'll reduce the risk of someone stealing something, as well as preventing friends from showing up unannounced.
    And that concludes staff’s presentation...

  14. #14
    Gunfighter Mastiff's avatar
    Oct 2001
    Middle of a Dusty Street
    I lock my door so I have more time to load.
    C'mon and get me you twist of fate
    I'm standing right here Mr. Destiny
    If you want to talk well then I'll relate
    If you don't so what cause you don't scare me

  15. #15
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
    Apr 2003
    Packing to move out of the icebox.
    Thanks for all the great responses. After reading it I guess I was not all that clear in my question.

    I agree that locking a door does help prevent that crime from occurring, but does it deter the criminal from even trying or even being there in the first place? My city has a great police force and overall, I it is a very safe place to live. However, there is a perception to reality issue at play that appears to caused by a social dynamic that I don't fully understand. I guess it is like the broken window theory but at a different level. Why do upper income residential neighborhoods more single family owner occupied homes have a lower crime rate than a visually comparable historic district made up of structures that have been broken into multiple apartments.

    Does rental properties invite crime? Is it a density issue? In "safe" neighborhoods, are the doors and windows more likely to be locked than in a rental neighborhood? Is there an economic component that comes into play with rental properties that are not found with owner occupied properties?

    It makes me wonder if a focus on locking doors is putting a band aid on a bug bite when you are camping. Yea, it might address that particular location, but does not prevent the bigger issue.

    Sometimes I wonder if it is like the parable of the wolf and the chicken. "The fence is to keep the chicken in, the gun is to keep the wolf out"
    "A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom. Time makes more converts than reason." - Thomas Paine Common Sense.

  16. #16
    [QUOTE=michaelskis;633020]Does rental properties invite crime? Is it a density issue? In "safe" neighborhoods, are the doors and windows more likely to be locked than in a rental neighborhood? Is there an economic component that comes into play with rental properties that are not found with owner occupied properties? QUOTE]

    What about situations where the rent for an apartment is higher than a house note. I know of apartment complexes that are safer, nicer, and more high end, than subdivisions. In that situation would the subdivision be more of a crime hazard than the apartment complex?
    When did I go from Luke Skywalker to Obi-Wan Kenobi?

  17. #17
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
    Mar 2004
    Where the weak are killed and eaten.
    Locks will slow a perp down. This means that they are more likely to draw attention to themselves breaking windows or forcing doors open. Perps are generally very lazy individuals and they will take the path of least resistence. Therefore, if everyone in the neighborhood made it hard to break in, they will move on to somewhere else.

    Of course this assumes that you live in a rational world. Prior to my last move, I was between two abandoned homes and had another behind me. This made me a regular target for theft.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

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