Lock your doors!

Greg Ellifritz issues this timely reminder.

Four years ago, I wrote an article titled Lock Your Damn Doors.  In that article I looked at a month’s worth of burglary and theft reports from the city where I worked and tracked how many theft victims had left their houses or cars unlocked before the thefts occurred.

The results?  83% of the theft victims had left their doors unlocked, making the criminals’ jobs extremely easy.

Another spring, another increase in theft offenses.  I decided to repeat the study to see if the victims in my city had learned any lessons in the last few years.  I tracked all the thefts from vehicles and burglaries reported in the city where I work (an upper-class Midwest suburb with around 35,000 residents) during the month of April.

Here are the numbers:

  • Number of vehicles entered- 25
  • Unlocked vehicles- 25
  • Locked vehicles- 0
  • Percent of vehicles unlocked- 100%
  • Number of houses (or garages) entered- 8
  • Unlocked houses (or garages)- 4
  • Locked houses (or garages)- 4
  • Percent of residences unlocked- 50%

. . .

This is the first year since I have been tracking that 100% of vehicle thefts occurred in unlocked vehicles.  Not a single car window was broken to steal anything.  I find that absolutely shocking.  You can safely assume that if there is nothing visible to steal in your car, thieves won’t break windows just to check.  On the other hand, if you leave your doors unlocked, thieves will open the door and see what they can find.  As the title of the article says: Lock your damn doors!  If you don’t want your crap stolen, keep your doors locked and valuables out of sight.

There’s more at the link.

Mr. Ellifritz provides this video of a criminal ‘casing’ cars, looking for unlocked vehicles.

He’s right, of course.  In conversations with criminals during my service as a prison chaplain, I routinely heard that they sought out neighborhoods and individuals who made their lives easier by leaving vehicles and buildings unlocked.  I recall one car thief who bragged that he’d made off with something over a hundred vehicles, during a criminal career spanning several decades, by simply watching to see who started their cars in their driveway on a cold morning, then went back inside to finish getting ready for work.  He could be in and gone before they realized anything was wrong.  His biggest complaint was the advent of remote-starting vehicles, that allowed their owners to start them without unlocking the doors!

The neighborhood in which I currently live is, sadly, an example of what Mr. Ellifritz is talking about.  It’s very safe and secure – crime is so minuscule there are hardly any records of it for about a mile around.  Unfortunately, many who live here have become security-lax as a result.  If we ever do have an influx of criminals, they’ll find easy pickings . . . but then, this is Texas.  As soon as someone notices, they’re likely to get their fundamental jujubes shot off.



  1. Last year I moved to a less-than-upscale apartment and housing area, the type where long term students and financially 'stressed' people live. And I bought a new used car. 2 things struck me.

    The first is my insurance company gives discounts for using something as simple as a Club or other steering wheel lock. Yes, even the cheapest $19.95 can save me $5.00 or more monthly (go USAA, and quit falling for the SJW garbage, dudes.)

    The second was the local police did a security sweep at the beginning of 'school' season and left little notes on peoples' vehicles. I was congratulated for locking the car and using a club. Most of my neighbors? Not so much. The Po-Po also left nice notes on people's apartment doors (around 5AM) asking them to please make sure their doors were locked. Nice touch, a tad creepy, but a very nice touch.

    To not lock doors is much like not wearing a seatbelt. Mostly can't hurt, should help.

  2. I got odd looks for reflexively locking doors even when at home or in a "nice" neighborhood. I did have a break-in a few years ago (and they did smash a window) but at least the bastages had to work a little for it. (And these geniuses got control heads.. but not the main units.. or took something with a unique ID that is now recorded as 'STOLEN' so will be useless as it cannot be activated – fast a theft, crap at figuring value… I still wanted to read of them arrested. Or dead. No such luck, alas.)

  3. People don't realize how opportunistic thieves can be. They look for easy stuff, first. If you present them with what looks like an invitation, don't be surprised if they accept.

    In the early 00's, I fired up my towtruck about midnight, to make sure it would start in the morning for patrol. Hadn't driven it for a couple days. (For some unknown reason that type of truck was hard on batteries. It had two.) Parked on the street in front of the house. I had a spare key to look the door. I walked out the door to shut it off after a 30 minute charge, and I see someone walk up toward the driver's door. He spotted me and ran back to his idling car, where he exchanged positions with the person behind the wheel, and they sped off.

    A car full of people wandering around on a late Sunday night, looking for targets of opportunity. This was a quiet neighborhood, with little crime.

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