On Good Locks

 

The actual method and speed of a home invasion is something I have many expressions for, but little knowledge of.

Today, the house next door was broken into and robbed. At least, that’s what my neighbor said. As I understand it, the burglar made it in and out without actually breaking anything, so I suppose it was more of a “walk in.” Or maybe a “jog in,” assuming that a burglar is interested in speed. The actual method and speed of a home invasion is something I have many expressions for, but little knowledge of. I hope our words and phrases actually do justice to the injustice done; I’d hate to use a clumsy phrase to describe a precise activity. That wouldn’t do at all.

Semantics aside, this is the second home invasion on our street in two days. The break-in two days ago was perpetrated by armed men who are still somewhere outside of a jail cell. It was likely unrelated, but two robberies on the same street in two days leads a tax-paying citizen to wonder if there is a connection. Now we’re all wary about mysterious ill-intentioned men with guns, and an unsolved break-in next door doesn’t do much to restore feelings of security. Today’s break-in, again, happened without anything actually being broken. From my understanding, only a DVD player was stolen, so I already feel some relief, as my wife and I stream everything and don’t own any DVDs. If our criminal is a serial robber with cinephilia, we’re off the hook. I might start advertising that on a sign outside, just to make it clear that there is nothing to gain from robbing us. But it might be a better idea just to put more locks on our doors.

Or is it? We have a total of ten locks on the six doors into our property. They vary in complexity from a device simpler than I’m willing to admit to several pretty strong deadbolts. Seven of these are locked everyday. As for windows, there is not one that is left unlocked. From a security perspective, the ratio of locks and doors to square footage of our home is probably higher than it is for most banks. But this recent spate of crimes on our street has me wondering if we couldn’t do more? A cursory glance at a few Google searches makes me feel decidedly less safe. There are “smart” alarm systems, “smart” locks, even “smart” cameras. I’m certain that nothing about my home is “smart,” but I don’t have a huge problem with this. I wonder; at what point exactly did a strong lock become less desirable than some sort of nerdy super bolt?

This shift betrays a deeper problem — one both ancient and perennial in human society. We now understand that a lock’s strength has nothing to do with the burglar’s desire to burgle. So we’ve moved on to the hope that we can outsmart a burglar by seeing them, being notified of their misdeed, and making an unpickable lock. But as long as we still have windows, we haven’t caught up to the enlightened thief. If a lock cannot be broken, perhaps a window can. And while we can be notified of the break, the act is already in progress. We’ve prevented nothing, but spent thousands of dollars to be told when someone is stealing from us. We’ve still lost thousands in the exchange, and I’m all of a sudden realizing who is actually smart in this equation. It’s time to go open a home security agency.

I would therefore like to argue that it is not the security system that needs to be reconsidered, but rather the owner and collector of things being stolen.

I would therefore like to argue that it is not the security system that needs to be reconsidered, but rather the owner and collector of things being stolen. And we homeowners need not be smarter, but wiser. It might be time for the people of my street to rise to a new understanding of our relationship to material goods. There is nothing that we can apply to our house to dissuade a robber from attempting robbery, so perhaps we should persuade them of the futility of their endeavor by not filling our homes with easily swiped items of value. We can sell our things and teach these criminals that crime doesn’t pay, and achieve a higher understanding of our purpose in the exchange. Thank you, burglars, for showing us the error of our materialistic ways.

This all might not make us feel safer in the end, but if I can shift my focus from fear to enlightenment, who cares? Plus it’s much cheaper than a smart lock. Have you seen how much they go for? Like $300 a lock. Might as well leave the door unlocked and put a $200 watch on the table in plain sight. I’d lose less. Maybe I’ll even spend a couple bucks on a Zen garden to cultivate detachment along with my newfound understanding of my true place in the cosmos.

But actually I should probably put a lock on the office door first so no one can steal it.

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