PoPville PSA – Locking Your Door Can Help Prevent Home Burglaries

by Prince Of Petworth May 13, 2011 at 4:00 pm 84 Comments

Photo by PoPville flickr user Bogotron

Locking your door can help prevent home burglaries.

From MPD:

In the burglary that occurred in the 500 Blk of 4th St SE, the suspect (s) entered the house through an unlocked back door.

Burglary Prevention Tips are below. I hope this will help to prevent further burglaries. The main thing is, get to know your neighbors and watch out for each other.

1. Please ensure doors are locked at all times.

But in all seriousness – do you guys think you should lock your doors even when you are home?

  • Anonymous

    Is this a trick question? Who doesn’t?

    • Anonymous

      I know someone that occasionally forgets to lock her door. When she discovers her mistake she uses it as an opportunity to proclaim how safe her neighborhood is… as if the unsafe neighborhoods have someone going door-to-door every night in search of unlocked doors.

    • Anonymous

      You might be surprised. All the time I see the guy across the street from me slide open the window next to his front door, and reach in to unlock the door. I’m not sure if he deliberately leaves his keys at home, or if he routinely forgets them. It’s so incredibly careless that I think it would be a waste of time to ever bring it up to him.

    • Vinnie

      I put my double bolt lock on when out home or away from home. People, we are living in 2011 and crime is rappant. There’s no such thing as a nice safe neighborhood. People have been killed, rape, or robbed in upscale neighborhoods. Even down South in small towns in the Carolinas, people now close and lock their doors.

  • MichelleRD


  • Anonymous

    absolutely lock my door when i’m inside. i didn’t know people didn’t…

  • Max

    Yeah, we constantly lock. Especially with this most recent crime wave it only seems sensible. If we’re home we don’t usually do the bolts because it’s a pain in the ass, and presumably if someone started trying to get past the knob locks we would hear and be able to respond.

    With people going around bending back metal bars to get through windows it’s pretty astonishing that anyone isn’t constantly locking up. I’m pretty tired of the victim-blaming we sometimes lapse into here but seriously – if you want to live in a major metropolitan area you need to understand the importance of locking up your stuff.

  • ironrails

    Lock your door, and before you go to sleep, lock your windows – the “cuddler” of a few years ago aside, there have been quite a few rapists and murders who have taken advantage of people’s laziness RE: this. One of the more frightening examples:


    • ironrails

      Er, “rapists and *murderers*, that is.

    • Emmaleigh504

      Oh God, I read the a book about the Night Stalker when I first moved into my first apartment in college. Scared me to death! I would check every door and window multiple times to make sure they were locked.

      • ironrails

        Don’t read the Wikipedia entry above, then – it’s RE: another, earlier killer that used the same MO (though in a more sophisticated way, and for much longer.) It’s terrifying – but a good reminder to lock down before going to sleep.

        • Emmaleigh504

          OK I won’t! I skimmed the first sentence and thought it was the same guy, but upon rereading it, I see that it’s a different killer. lovely

  • In our house:

    Rule #1:
    All doors are locked all the time, home or not – period.
    including the driveway/alley door and garden gate)

    Rule #2:
    Alarm is set all the time, home or not.

    Rule #3:
    All windows are locked all the time when not home.

    It is a pretty simple concept.

    The more barriers you give the idiots the harder their job of robbing you becomes.

  • Anonymous

    we have a video camera in front (and behind our house) in Columbia Heights. People do go door to door checking unlocked doors. more than you would like to know.

    • whoa_now

      have you caught this on tape? and if so, delivered it to the PoPo?

  • JenDC

    In all seriousness – yes.

    That’s not a “blame the victim” attitude – it’s a “do the best you can” attitude.

  • Emmaleigh504

    I don’t lock my door until I go to sleep or get jammied, but my apartment building has a locked front entrance, so it’s not the same as not locking a door to the out of doors.

    • MichelleRD

      Oh, Emmaleigh.

      Lock your door.

      • textdoc

        Emmaleigh, lock your door when you come home! Too easy to forget otherwise.

        I’m in the process of moving from an apartment to a house. Over the years that I’ve lived in my apartment, a few times I’ve discovered in the morning that I forgot to lock my front door the night before. My building has a locked front entrance too, but on the rare occasions this happens, it still freaks me out.

        • X

          Emmaleigh – LOCK THE DOORS! We lived in a “secure” building (locked doors, key fobs, doorman, etc.) and some man wandered around and opened doors, and actually fondled some poor girl while she was napping. Don;t let something like (or worse)happen to you!

    • anon

      are you being serious? why would you not lock your door until going to bed? it becomes less work at that point or something? you’re just asking to be raped or murdered if you think the 400 other people in the building are all going to heaven and that no one with ill intent can walk through your building’s doors.

      • saf

        “you’re just asking to be raped or murdered if you think”

        No, no she’s not.

        None of that blame the victim crap. No one is responsible for a crime except the criminal.

        • Anonymous

          amen. don’t blame the victim. absolutely.

          but really what anon was doing was suggestion precaution. it’s less controversial to talk about preventing colds and food poisoning that preventing crime.
          thats’ kinda crazy.

      • Emmaleigh504

        I’m not asking for anything, I just have a different world view than you.

        • victoria

          Honey, it takes 2 seconds and about 1.5 calories of energy to turn the lock. No one is suggesting you change your world view – just be sensible. Evildoers do routinely get into secure buildings and go door to door checking for unlocked doors.

          • Emmaleigh504

            Honey, a bunch of strangers aren’t going to get me to change my mind on this, so y’all can all give it a rest already.

          • Anonymous

            Yeah, that’s what I don’t get– you might as well lock it.

            Windows are another story. I’ve had the rear-facing ones open all week, since I like the fresh air and I’m not going to go around closing them every time I leave the house. It seems unlikely that someone would scale the backyard fence, bend the window bars, not get scared away by the barking dogs, and climb in without setting off the alarm. If they’re willing to go through all that they’re probably willing to spend the extra second breaking the window.

          • El Gringo


            see my personal experience with just that below

        • Anonymous

          we all just want to protect such a cute baby rhino such as yourself.
          if your image was some nasty ole naked mole rat we wouldn’t give a damn if you locked your door or not.

    • Anonymous

      my building has a locked front door too, but I would never think it safe not to lock and deadbolt my door 100% of the time. and I life in a cushy hood. really, you should always lock it… unless of course you’re a superhero until you put your pjs on.

    • Do you know how easy it is to get into a locked building?

    • Neighbor

      We learned that lesson the hard way. Used to live in a small apartment building (converted row house in Dupont) and frequently left the apt door unlocked while at home. One day a guy walked in while I (female) was home alone. Fortunately I startled him and he left, but he made off with our neighbors’ (who weren’t home) computers and other valuables. We’ve kept all doors locked at all times since, even though my in-laws and other house guests often think it’s extreme.

      • Neighbor

        Oh, and the kicker was that their renters’ insurance didn’t cover anything because they had left the interior door unlocked (while running an errand or something).

  • LibrariNerd

    When people ask questions like that, I can’t even imagine where they come from or what their idyllic childhood must have been like. I grew up in the ‘burbs and it was still unthinkable to ever leave the doors unlocked.

    • Kim

      LibrariNerd, funny you should mention that, because we never locked our door growing up! (To the point where only my father even had a key to our house-my mother, sister, and I all lost ours.) I grew up on the outer edge of a suburb in what wasn’t exactly rural, but was a little more rural than the center of the suburb. (We had a 3 acre lot and our house was set back far off the street.) FWIW, this was the 80’s/90’s/early 00’s, so not too long ago! My parents have now moved into a more typical suburban subdivision and I am sometimes amazed that they still don’t lock their doors. Ever. And (knock on wood) they have never had anything stolen from them.

      Obviously I don’t leave my doors unlocked in DC, even when I’m home. Heck, a strong wind can blow my door open even if I only have the knob (and not the deadbolt) locked!

      • Emmaleigh504

        Growing up I lived in a rural suburban area for a while and we never locked our doors. It got so bad that at some point the lock actually broke and they never replaced the lock until we moved out. When we went on vacation they would put our couch in front of the front door and we would go out the back. I’m pretty sure the back door only had a chain lock, but we did have a big, scary looking dog.

        When we moved to a more urban area and actually locked our doors I was always getting locked out because I was not used to carrying a key and would always forget it.

        • Anonymous

          I grew up in a rural suburban area. We’d key in the code for the garage door and enter the house through the unlocked door from the gararge.

          My parents did get burglarized once, but the burglarers got in by kicking in the front door (that was always locked and deadbolted because we never used it).

        • Kim

          On the rare occasions (I would say maybe once a school year) that my parents would lock the house for some reason, I always got locked out (having lost my key). One time I tried to jump in through a window that was on the first floor, but not that close to the ground. I hit my head on the top of the window and complained for weeks.

          The extremely rare locking of the doors ended after that. Looking back, I am not sure why 12-year-old me didn’t just go to the neighbors instead of trying to jump in through that window.

          • Emmaleigh504

            Hey everyone! Johnny down there doesn’t lock he doors either, why don’t y’all jump all over his shit too?

          • El Gringo

            I just did.

    • Bill

      My parents live in an upscale burb of Atlanta, and don’t lock their doors.. even when they are not home! Or their car doors for that matter (I think they even leave the keys in the cupholder pretty often).

      • whoa_now

        My family used to take family vacations and not lock our doors. I don’t think I ever saw a key to our house. I’m not sure we have one now. DC does not equal western NC. Lock your doors.

    • Cait B

      My idyllic ’80s childhood in the country was wonderful!

      Doors were never ever locked, cars were parked and left wherever with the keys still in the ignition, and as a kid I would wander into my neighbors houses with a “hello” as I entered – unless it was an unreasonable hour knocking wasn’t expected before you let yourself in.

      That said, we lock and alarm everything at our house in DC, whether we’re home or not.

    • dreas

      I also grew up in a suburb (western-central NJ) where no one locked their house or their cars. I had to think for a minute after reading Kim and Emmaleigh’s comments–I don’t remember carrying a house key, either. Once I could drive, I’d leave my car keys in the car. With my wallet.

      Stuff did get stolen, once, and it was very very quickly traced back to a kid in the development next to mine after he and a friend tried to sell Radio Shack the radar detectors they’d stolen. But we still kept leaving stuff unlocked after that.

      We lock doors now, whether we’re home or not.

  • 415

    This question reminds me of that scene in Bowling for Columbine when the he’s in Canada and walking up to people’s front doors and finds most of them unlocked.

    When I used to live in North Carolina I rarely locked my door home or away

    Now I live in a “transitional neighborhood and I keep my door locked most of the time. If it’s a nice day I’ll have just my screen door closed and there’s no lock on it. I do have a big dog that will sit in the doorway and stare outside

  • twt

    I agree with LibrariNerd and others, of COURSE I lock my door when I’m home, even when I lived in the burbs as a child. It would make no sense to me otherwise, unless I’m sitting on the porch right by my door. And even then, I think about what if I fell over and dropped dead and left my house unlocked!!!

  • Sleepy

    Lock the doors. Get a dog. Get an alarm. Get a gun. You have those 4 things, you’re virtually break in-proof.

  • saf


    OK, lock all doors and set the alarm when we are out or sleeping.

    Otherwise, not always. I like having my doors and windows open in nice weather!

  • WDC

    I do, but it’s recent. Don’t remember why I started. I remember that, in the first year I lived in my Columbia Heights rowhouse, before I started locking, I TWICE had someone do the knock-and-enter… they were at the wrong house. Both times I was standing in the kitchen, within view of the front door, and boy were those poor people mortified. In hindsight, it was somewhat amusing to see the look on their faces… from a cheerful “hi, we’re here”, to “wait a minute…” to “oh. my. GOD. What have I done.”

    • exist.incognito

      That’s a pretty common tactic; the back story of “wrong house” (or in cases with roommates throwing out a random name) keeps you from calling the police.

      That happy look was probably more like, ‘sweet, pay-dirt.’

      • WDC

        Do female robbers come with kids, carrying covered dishes? If so, OMG!!!
        Ok, only one had a kid and a covered dish. The other was an older lady on her own. Sneaky! Even sneakier to wait six years (and counting) to follow up with the obvious nefarious activities.

        • Ellen Ripley

          Your story made me laugh out loud. I’d be horrified if I accidentally wandered into the wrong house.

  • fz

    Not only I lock my door I also keep my alarm on when I’m home. And if someone knocks on my door that doesn’t look like a sweet old lady from church, I talk to them from behind the door.

  • Johnny

    Really people? I grew up right here in DC and my parents never locked our door. We were constantly in and out of the house as kids so they didn’t bother. (that’s right. we played outside UNATTENDED!?!) That’s why in the old days they called it “locking up the house” when you went to bed. To this day I don’t lock the door while home. The chances of anything happening are so slim its comical to see you all so bent out of shape at the prospect. I’ll be sure to post when my home is invaded so you can all say told-ya-so. But don’t hold your collective breathes. I guess I would feel different if I was a single lady though.

    • Emmaleigh504

      I’m a single lady, and I don’t feel any different.

      • Op Ed

        See you both on the crime blotter.

      • El Gringo

        You both need to readjust your perspectives.

        I personally experienced someone entering my condo, while I was home to steal things…I spotted him when he peeked into our bedroom and I chased him out.

        ..and I *always* lock the door behind me at home. This time my hands were full with groceries, so I had forgotten.

        FYI – We were living on the 5th flr of a condo building with controlled front door access. This guy “piggybacked” when someone held the door for him out front.

      • victoria

        So how does an unlocked door support your world view? Do you believe any person should be able to enter into your home at any time? If so, why not just leave your door completely open all the time?

        If it’s just a general refusal of paranoia – cool. You don’t need to get an alarm and a gun, but refusing to turn a knob after you enter your home on some “principle” is just silly.

        It’s like someone insisting on running around the city barefoot, despite broken glass everywhere, because they think it gets them closer to “nature.”

    • greent

      With you Johnny. My mother locked the door when she left the house, or when she slept, but didn’t give us keys (she worked nights and slept days). I learned by the age of 7 how to break into our house through 3 different windows. It was nice to have the house to myself, as I refused to unlock the door for my siblings (who were too big for the windows).

      I still “lock up the house” at night. I keep the door to my patio wide open – and pretty late as it really is the only airflow I get. My dog is wonderful protection. She’ll bark… then cuddle you to death. Great protection.

      • victoria

        Wait – how small were your windows – or how big were your siblings????

        • greent

          The windows were quite small, they were oddly located on the sides of the house. The one I used most frequntly had a 5 foot drop to the floor once inside. I used it most because it was fun to do – climb up my neighbors house to the porch roof, then leapt to the window pane from their house, hung on til I could jimmy the window, then slide in, hang down and drop – I did it without making a sound on the hardwood floors. Ahh youth.

          My brothers, having different father than I, have always been much bigger than I am – both a foot taller and much much wider throughout. The old family joke was they were the farmhand’s kids, while I was the cat burglar’s kid.

          • victoria

            How funny! Great story.

  • Paranoid

    In the three cities I’ve lived in, it’s locked no matter where I am, home or other wise. If you are going to hurt me or take from me bring your tools and a helmet cause it’s gonna get rough!

  • andy

    What would DC Fire Department say? Maybe we should go with their caveats on locking yourself in.

    • El Gringo

      ummm ….an axe and crowbar maybe?

      There are a significant # of fires starting when people aren’t home…so I’m guessing locked doors are SOP for *any* FD.

    • ontarioroader

      They’d say lock yourself in. DCFD has tools on all the squads to get through any door/gate/bar short of the Central Cellblock.

  • Angry Parakeet

    The doors are locked all the time. When my roommates are out of town, I also lock my bedroom door when I go to bed.

  • exist.incognito

    After reading some of these, I’m kind of shocked. I grew up in a really low crime area, so I get the difficulty changing mindset.

    Maybe if you don’t value property, you might be willing to risk the pretty high rate of burglaries in urban areas. Personally, someone going through my things and space feels pretty violating.

    Yeah, violent crime is not common, but in the rare event you get someone willing to rape you, or worse, someone who set out to torture, rape, and kill you, the best place is your home. It seems like it will never happen to you until it does – is it worth the risk?

    • anon

      Comments like these make me wish for mandatory statistics classes.

      • Anonymous

        perception risk is a funny thing.

  • jules

    I grew up in the midwest. We always had our front door locked — but we never used it. We had a garage code, and a regular door to the garage from the outside that was always unlocked. There was also a regular door from the garage into the house that was always unlocked, unless we went on vacation. It was the same all over town. In fact, high school kids went “garaging” — you’d walk through someone’s neighborhood entering their garages and taking beer out of the beer fridge in the garage, then go back to someone’s basement and drink said beer. Which back then seemed innocent enough but would probably freak me out if some kids did it to my garage nowadays.

  • CE

    I grew up in the suburbs and we didn’t lock anything – doors, cars, windows, whatever. Ever. Once we went on vacation and when we came home after two weeks, my parents discovered they had left the front door ajar and nothing had been touched. It was nice.

    But in DC, I lock everything all the time.

  • d. gale

    i dont think we’re in kansas anymore.

  • Aurelius

    if you were in Rome, live in the Roman way; if you are elsewhere, live as they do there

  • ogden

    My apartment building has a locked gate, a locked door, and a security guard—and I still lock my door. It’s foolish to think that neighbors can’t be thieves or can’t let in thieves by trying to be nice and hold the door open for them. when I come home, I turn around and shut the door, flip the deadbolt with one hand and hang my keys on the hook with the other. It’s not even something I stop to think about.

    I don’t get the idea that doors should only be locked at bedtime. Since when do burglars, rapists, and murderers only strike after bedtime?

  • uh, no

    This is why I don’t have nice stuff. Seriously, my stereo is 30 years old, I don’t have a TV or DVD player, all valuables are in a lock box at the bank, my bike is locked to the radiator with two chains, I take my cars keys and laptop to work, and none of my clothes are that valuable. I don’t even have a microwave

    I guess someone could break the lock on my desk and steal my checkbook… I also shred all my bills and junkmail, so I guess they could steal my shredder.

    I guess they could also steal my toothbrush or at least pee on it out of frustration. I also have 4 plates, 4 cups, etc., so that’s not so valuable.

    I did accidentally leave my car unlocked once, and a crackhead rifled through everything (nothing valuable in there either – not even spare change), and I think he/she did pee on the seat out of frustration.

    I’m not saying that people shouldn’t have nice stuff, but I have chosen to live without alot of it, and my wife and I are both pretty happy – we spend our money on travel instead…

    I have also been burgled in the past, and some of my “nice stuff” at the time was stolen, so maybe my attitude change after that…

  • Vinnie

    I live in a secure building, but people let strangers into the building, put pennies, rocks, sticks, and other items in the door to get back in. I lock and put my double bolt lock on at all times. I am a registered DC legal gun owner. If someone’s able to break into my apartment with me being there, I will send them on to glory and not think twice about it.

  • Miss Golightly

    I always lock my door- if I forget my keys, I can always wake Mr. Yunioshi!

    I lock the door when I remove my keys – never with a thought of protecting myself and home, just b/c its a habit.

  • anon

    I agree with you and i’m not “blaming the victim,” but she’s seriously asking for it. Read below – this chick is delusional.

    “a bunch of strangers aren’t going to get me to change my mind on this, so y’all can all give it a rest already.”

  • go emmaleigh!

    wow-what a bunch of sanctimonious snarky silliness. emmaleigh consistenly has interesting posts that are pleasant to read. now she is a delusional chick named honey. who knew?

  • Rosie

    Why does what you did where you grow up matter?? If you live in or close to DC now, you should lock your doors. It won’t hurt you NOT to do it, so why purposefully leave the doors unlocked? Just to feel like you are safe because you *know* no one will break in? That is naive and ridiculous. I hope you change your ways when you have kids and have to think about the safety of others as well as yourself!

  • anon

    In other news – fire is hot and water is wet.

  • Line Judge

    People. Just. Lock. Your. Door.

    My self-important worldview- I grew up in upper utopia (not kidding.) Lived in a mansion. We locked the doors.
    I’ve lived many different places. In cities. Lock the door. In towns. Lock the door. On farms. Lock the barn door. In countries. Lock the door.

    My self-important worldview continued… Close your curtains too. Unless you’re advertising that you have nothing to steal, and you’re kind of kinky. In that case, you can leave your windows and curtains wide open.

    Or don’t.

    I don’t care anymore. You people are killing me. Anonymously.

    Like those anonymous people that go around checking for unlocked windows and doors. In rich/poor/urban/suburban/rural/communities. To steal things. Like cash/computers/jewelry. Or worthless things like your goals/dreams/innocence/good/nights/sleep.

    Lock your doors.

  • Veronika

    YES PEOPLE!!! You don’t live in Brewton Alabama and the year is not 1959. Lock UP! when I leave the house, i hide all the good stuff (the old TV from 1990, the one with the VHS player in it is downstairs, flat screen NOT IN VIEW) and turn on my alarm!! the neighborhood is UP AND COMING, it has not yet arrived.


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