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The other night I read this Hot Lead Versus Cold Blood  post by Massad Ayoob which told us the story about the murder of the Cutter family in the 1950’s.  This was the story that inspired Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood.   Mr. Ayoob told us how the family was unarmed and reminded us that if you can’t reach your gun quickly during an emergency it is useless.  It made me feel pretty good that Walther and Smitty were both in the room with us while I was reading the article.

When I scanned through the comments I saw someone reference the murder of the Petit family in Connecticut in 2007 which I was unfamiliar with.  The Petit family suffered a brutal home invasion where the husband was severely beaten, his wife and one daughter were raped and then the house was set on fire.  Sadly, Dr. Petit was the only one of his family to survive the ordeal.  It was a horrible and hard story to get through but what immediately stuck out to me was that the criminals had entered their house through an unlocked basement door.

They lived in a beautiful upper-middle class neighborhood and neighbors were “shocked” that anything like that could happen there.  Which should serve again as a reminder that crime can happen at any time and to anyone, even if you live in a “nice” area.  This is why we MUST not fall into thinking that crime could not happen to us.  The men who broke in were not strangers to the life of crime, they were both parolees.  I read at least one article where one of the attackers said that they always searched for homes with unlocked doors.

I can’t help but wonder how things may have turned out differently if their doors had been locked and if the family was armed.  But for the purpose of this post I’d like to focus on the unlocked door.  Locking a door is such a simple thing that we can do to add to our toolbox against predators.  Let’s try to make it as hard as possible for them to get into our homes.

One thing that really pushed me to learn how to use Walther and learn more about personal safety was when two people we know had their homes broken into earlier this year.  One happened during the day, their doors were locked, and luckily they were not home.

It is a common misconception, by the way, that burglaries occur only at night because that is what we see on TV shows and in the movies but let’s remind ourselves what criminals want…an EASY target so it is much preferable to them to go to an empty house during the day while we’re all at work.

Of course some criminals don’t care, they want what they want and are not going to stop to get it.  The other break-in that happened earlier this year occurred at night, when the family was home, and the intruder came in through the back door which was unlocked.  This was the crime that really freaked me out and made me make changes for our personal safety.  I just can’t imagine waking up and finding an intruder in my kitchen.

I found the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ Criminal Victimization, 2009 Report and looking at 2008 & 2009 there were about 3.1 million household burglaries each year.

Holy cow that is more than I had expected!!  That means that a burglary occurs approximately every 10 seconds and that around 30% are classified as “unlawful entry” which means the intruder came in through an unlocked door or window.  I’d venture to say that most of the 30% of people who left their doors or windows unlocked never EXPECTED that crime would happen to them.

We have been guilty on more than one occasion to not only leave a door unlocked but the garage door open with the lights on.  We should have just put a flashing neon sign outside saying “Burglars Welcome”.  I also used to leave the front door unlocked when I got home from work since my husband would be home within 30 minutes of me getting home.  I’m happy to report that we don’t either of those things any longer.

I did a quick Google search of “crime” and “unlocked doors” in the news and came back with these stories:

Papa John Robbers come in unlocked back door

Burglars Hit Homes With Unlocked Doors In Neighborhood

Burglars targeting unlocked vehicles to steal garage door openers I always lock my car but if you don’t this is yet another reason why you should especially if you keep your garage door opener in your car!

Police cuts and rumors of easy targets boost thievery

The list of stories about unlocked doors actually went on for a few pages but I’m sure you get the point.

So let me leave you with this: Do you keep your windows and doors locked all of the time? 

If not, I urge you to add locking your doors as one little change to part of your personal safety strategy. It may not keep all of the bad guys out but if you are able to hear a bad guy knocking down your door or breaking your window that may just give you enough time to arm yourself. Or it may be just enough deterrent to make them go away.

Don’t make it easy for the criminals to get into your home, don’t be an easy target.

Please, lock your doors!!  You and your family are worth it.