Some People Don’t Lock Their Doors

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

As hard as it is to believe, some people don’t lock their doors — even in New York City:

A 2008 survey by State Farm Insurance of 1,000 homes across the country reported that fewer than half of those surveyed always locked their front doors. And while people who habitually lock their doors are incredulous that others do not, those who don’t lock are surprised that anyone would be shocked by it.


According to the F.B.I.’s most recent annual Uniform Crime Report, of the estimated 2,222,196 burglaries committed nationwide in 2008, 32.2 percent were unlawful entries without force. And a spokesman for the New York City Police Department reported that of the 19,263 burglaries that took place in New York City in 2009, 5,041 did not involve forced entry.

These figures include commercial as well as residential properties, and burglaries without forced entry cannot be flatly equated with those that involve unlocked doors, because they may involve open windows; unauthorized use of a key; or theft by workers, family members or business associates. But unlocked doors are certainly a factor.

Inspector James Murtagh is the commanding officer of the 19th Precinct on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, which includes Park Avenue doorman buildings, brownstones and apartment houses. In his precinct, he estimates that 25 percent of burglaries are a result of an open door or window.

While out-of-towners may cling to the notion of New York as a city of triple locks and metal bars bracing the door — an image common in movies from the 1960s and 1970s — that idea is dramatically out of date. According to the Police Department, there were 210,703 burglaries in the city in 1980, more than 10 times as many as there were last year.

And in some ways, Inspector Murtagh says, the city may be a victim of its own success — people may have become too comfortable.


  1. RL says:

    It irritates me to no end when I come home late at night from work, my wife and small children already asleep in bed, to find the front door unlocked.

  2. I went to college in a pretty bad city, and one night the cops chased a violent offender into the backyard of the house my roommates and I were renting at the time. I heard the cop yell “stop or I’ll blow your f**king head off!” from just outside my open window, just seconds after I’d heard running footsteps.

    The next night one of those roommates left the door not just unlocked but wide open after taking the garbage out. Suffice to say the rest of us were displeased.

  3. AAB says:

    I guess that nightlatches aren’t a standard fitting on exterior doors in the USA. They are pretty commonplace here in the UK.

  4. Isegoria says:

    We call that a deadbolt, and they’re quite common here — but plenty of people can’t be bothered, it would appear.

  5. AAB says:

    Uh, that’s a shame. It’s a simple device that would probably cut down on a lot of opportunist thievery. It reminds me of a scene from Full Metal Jacket when the Gunnery Sergeant finds Private Pile’s foot locker unlocked:

    Hartman: Jesus H. Christ! Private Pyle, why is your foot locker unlocked?

    Pyle: Sir, I don’t know, sir!

    Hartman: Private Pyle, if there is one thing in this world that I hate, it is an unlocked foot locker! You know that, don’t you?

    Pyle: Sir, yes, sir!

    Hartman: If it wasn’t for dickheads like you, there wouldn’t be any thievery in this world,would there?

    Pyle: Sir, no, sir!

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