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Vultures, vultures everywhere
November 24, 2008 10:16 AM   Subscribe

Will the declining economy trigger a wave of burglaries? The answer seems to be a definitive maybe. There's no doubt, however, that property crime is a popular pastime of late.

There are, fortunately, a lot of resources on burglary prevention. It might also be time to consider insurance.

This is the research I wish I'd done, and paid attention to, a couple of weeks ago. I hope this will motivate some Metafilterians to safeguard their stuff.
posted by MrVisible (41 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Metafilterians

Metafilterites.
posted by gman at 10:20 AM on November 24, 2008


Just following the president's lead. Bring 'em on.
posted by Balisong at 10:21 AM on November 24, 2008


There's no doubt, however, that property crime is a popular pastime of late.

Kids are getting a bad example from the socialist (soon to be) in the White House.
posted by DU at 10:30 AM on November 24, 2008


Anecdotally, it's already word.

Was told by a local law enforcement rep that, in our county, there's been a spike in property crimes, particularly burglary, car theft, and vandalism. Rep said that he's witnessing increased "desperation property crimes" and "opportunity crimes" -- e.g., people breaking car windows to snatch grocery bags left on seats; gangs stealing house and car keys then burglarizing homes and taking cars; homeless stealing autos and living in them; etc.

Seconding MrVisible, now's the time to tighten security.
posted by terranova at 10:33 AM on November 24, 2008


I don't know how this is even a question anymore. Case in point: I just read on CNN today that New Orleans is the new murder capital. Take that to the bank.
posted by fusinski at 10:37 AM on November 24, 2008


Metafilterites.

Metafiltroons.
posted by stet at 10:37 AM on November 24, 2008 [3 favorites]


That's why I posted this, terranova. After I got broken into, I found out from the helpful law enforcement agents that there's a wave of break-ins in my town right now. And everyone I talk to has either been burglarized recently, or knows someone who has.

The actual statistics take a while to compile and filter down to where they become news, but the word around here is: watch your stuff. It's rough out there.
posted by MrVisible at 10:38 AM on November 24, 2008


Metafiltroons.

Me fights.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 10:46 AM on November 24, 2008


Here's a tip I got from the cops when my home was burglarized about 2 years ago: get a plain glass jar or bowl with flat, smooth sides. Keep it filled with spare change and in plain sight. Many thieves will pick it up, dump the change into their pockets or a loot bag, and then put the empty container right back down, leaving their fingerprints on the glass.
posted by ijoshua at 10:47 AM on November 24, 2008 [3 favorites]


Compared to a year ago, crime over the past week and month has gone down in my Manhattan precinct by 30% and 22%, respectively. For the year overall crime has gone up 6.66%, with most of the increase being grand larceny. (pdf of 28th precinct crime stats)
posted by plastic_animals at 10:48 AM on November 24, 2008


Here in New York City, the police cook the books. Their statistics are not reliable because an increase in crime would be politically problematic. Crime hasn't returned to the levels of the seventies and eighties but it's still higher than the numbers would indicate.
posted by jason's_planet at 10:51 AM on November 24, 2008


Many thieves will pick it up, dump the change into their pockets or a loot bag, and then put the empty container right back down, leaving their fingerprints on the glass.

Neat! Perhaps best placed away from likely points of entry with the winter coming on as (here, at least) an intruder is likely to be wearing gloves as a matter of course if not precaution. Give him time to get hot and just maybe take them off.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 10:55 AM on November 24, 2008


We actually DO keep our loose change in a clear glass jar with flat sides and about as far from the entrances as you can get in our house, but still in plain sight. Except what idiotic thief is going to lug around 100 lbs of pennies that's worth maybe $10? I guess one dumb enough to burgle bare-handed.
posted by DU at 11:03 AM on November 24, 2008


I have a glass jar filled with spare change in plain sight in my apartment, which I keep coated in a fast-acting neurotoxin, made from poison-arrow frogs and Komodo dragon spittle.
posted by steef at 11:04 AM on November 24, 2008 [4 favorites]


Home security is a lot like being in a group trying to outrun a bear: you don't have to be the fastest as long as you're faster than the next guy. Look around your neighborhood, compare your home to others on your block (especially your immediate neighbors), and then apply this thread's security tips to the places where you're lacking. Chances are that if your house has no accessible windows or glass doors, and the place two doors up does, you won't be the one to get robbed. Conversely, if everyone has security bars but you, that's a bad sign...

Also, many people overlook the other side of the equation: fitting in economically. It's OK to have more stuff than everyone else on the block, but if you want to keep it, you'd better make sure nobody can tell from the outside. Dark curtains and a nondescript car (or a garage for your nice car) are your friends.
posted by vorfeed at 11:08 AM on November 24, 2008


Whoa, has anyone seen this swivel.com thing? Burglary rate by state, for example, came from these data. This site could settle, and start, many an internet debate. But how can I compare year by year?
posted by DU at 11:09 AM on November 24, 2008


NM, my data are two years old from some user. Possibly inaccurate and definitely not timely.
posted by DU at 11:13 AM on November 24, 2008


I have been told by caseworkers who deal with ex-offenders that practically none of their recently released clients are finding work. It's hard enough finding work with a felony record in a good job market; now it is nearly impossible. Extrapolate and conclude.
posted by The Straightener at 11:17 AM on November 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


Many thieves will pick it up, dump the change into their pockets or a loot bag, and then put the empty container right back down, leaving their fingerprints on the glass.

The cops will actually take time to dust for fingerprints? Riiiiiiight (as much as I want to believe they will). Fortunately I've never had a burglary, but with my friends who have, the cops just do clerical paperwork and expect insurance to take care of the rest.

I'm pretty convinced that 80% of burglaries are from someone living right there near the house who knows what's going on (like that slacker teenager across the street who knows what time you get home), and a small percentage is from organized casing. For instance the occasional annoying magazine salesman that rings the doorbell is not always a magazine salesman. Sometimes they're shopping.
posted by crapmatic at 11:22 AM on November 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty convinced that 80% of burglaries are from someone living right there near the house who knows what's going on (like that slacker teenager across the street who knows what time you get home)

In my old neighbourhood, there was a group of kids that would skip school and sit along the railroad tracks. It provided an elevated view right into people's yards and back windows, so they could get used to people's routines and know when to move.

The cops will actually take time to dust for fingerprints? Riiiiiiight

I suspect if you handed them an obvious source they'd take the 2 minutes to dust the one object. But snarking on police is teh fun, I know.

It's OK to have more stuff than everyone else on the block, but if you want to keep it, you'd better make sure nobody can tell from the outside.

I'm slightly amazed by the giant-screen tv's facing patio windows in so many houses in my area. Given that it's almost all townhouses, there's a lot of through-traffic on public greenspace that permits a pretty intimate view that regular yards, though especially contiguous yards without a back alley, do not permit. Though yeah, I guess they're all good targets. However, also a ton of dogs in my neighbourhood. Something to keep in mind when you're thinking "I'm not an easy target". If an interested person were to cross off all the dog owners in my area and you lived here and weren't one, you might be a more desirable target than you realize.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 11:42 AM on November 24, 2008


I'm slightly amazed by the giant-screen tv's facing patio windows in so many houses in my area

Good point. When the OU-Texas Tech football game was on Saturday night, I could not believe how many houses were advertising their 60-inch plasma TVs to the busy street out front.
posted by crapmatic at 11:48 AM on November 24, 2008


This is probably due to the way houses are designed, not due to inherent unawareness or stupidity by homeowners. Many living rooms have decks/patios attached. Many people have TVs in their living rooms. Ergo, TVs that are visible from outside. Rather than sequester oneself away in a room with no windows, people opt to use their living rooms and take the chance that someone might see their TV. Really, being so obsessed with security that nothing of value can be seen from outside is a bit extreme.
posted by proj at 12:00 PM on November 24, 2008


> It's OK to have more stuff than everyone else on the block, but if you want to keep it, you'd better make sure nobody can tell from the outside.

This is my main (only?) line of defence. My apartment is nice enough on the inside, but looks like a dump from the outside and my wife and I have purposely not made any improvements to the facade for this very reason.
posted by you just lost the game at 12:01 PM on November 24, 2008


Many people have TVs in their living rooms. Ergo, TVs that are visible from outside.

We recently upgraded our screen and it's rather large. It isn't facing the living room/patio windows, though. That's a fairly simple decision to make. No one suggested living in a bunker.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 12:38 PM on November 24, 2008


Mefunians.
posted by pracowity at 12:42 PM on November 24, 2008


Really, being so obsessed with security that nothing of value can be seen from outside is a bit extreme.

There's a big difference between "nothing of value can be seen from outside" and "I have expensive stuff compared to others around here, and I don't want that to be obvious". The latter doesn't necessarily mean that you can't enjoy your stuff, or that you have to resort to elaborate means to keep people from seeing it. It just means that you need to be a bit more circumspect about it.

Again, the key is not to have a lot of obvious stuff comparable to others in your area. If most people on your street also have big-screen TVs facing their porches, and your house is difficult to break into compared to the houses on either side of it, then having a visible big-screen TV is probably not an unacceptable risk. If any of these factors are unfavorable, however -- if you have big sliding glass doors in the living room or you're the only one on the block with a $2400 TV -- you might want to think about investing in a security screen and/or curtains or blinds which you keep closed when you're not watching TV from the porch. There are plenty of things you can do to make your stuff less obvious while still being able to enjoy your home.
posted by vorfeed at 12:47 PM on November 24, 2008


I concur. I was carjacked this weekend!
posted by taschenrechner at 12:58 PM on November 24, 2008


I've got insurance. They can come and take it. And besides, all of my electronics are the losers in the format wars, so good luck trying to pawn those off.

*snake*
"Oh no, HD-DVD..."
*/snake*

(but I do have a Betamax, too.)
posted by hwyengr at 1:14 PM on November 24, 2008


If people are really interested in protecting themselves, there are a couple of steps you can take which will greatly reduce your risks:

1.) Lock your doors and windows. Seriously, people forget to do this all the time. This includes you garage.

2.) Get to know your neighbors; watch their houses, have them watch yours. Remarkably effective.

3.) Good lighting. A perimeter of motion activated lights can ensure that there are no exploitable dark access ways to your house.

4.) Get a couple of dogs, teach them to unabashedly love any and all strangers who come by. This ensures that they will bark frantically if they hear anyone outside, and most people can't tell the difference between a dog's "Ooh, stranger! Wanna bite!" and "Ooh, stranger, Wanna lick!" voices.

5.) Now, this one is a bit more complicated, and some neighbors might object, but a double wall of electrified razorwire and chainlink, outlining a 100 meter wide minefield, monitored by robotic snipers, all protecting a windowless 3 foot thick reinforced hatch that leads to an underground bunker is also a pretty reliable deterrent.

That's the one I went for.
posted by quin at 1:42 PM on November 24, 2008 [3 favorites]


Metafilterians

You're confused. Metafilterians are the tiny organisms in the blood of "true" MeFites. That's what turns them from petulant children into masters of snark, bacon and sophistry.
posted by rokusan at 1:53 PM on November 24, 2008 [2 favorites]


And plates of beans.
posted by oaf at 1:53 PM on November 24, 2008


When I saw all those news stories about gun sales increasing "after the election", I guessed that we were really talking about "since the economic flushing sound started getting louder and louder."

This seems to support that notion.
posted by rokusan at 1:54 PM on November 24, 2008


Most people can't tell the difference between a dog's "Ooh, stranger! Wanna bite!" and "Ooh, stranger, Wanna lick!" voices.

Please stop making fun of my social life.
posted by rokusan at 1:55 PM on November 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


Rubber Gloves.
posted by Balisong at 2:40 PM on November 24, 2008


Metafiltramundos. (Viva!)

Talked to a cop buddy of mine who said crime seems to rise and fall depending on the price of silver (not gold). I thought it was an oversimplification, but I’ve kept a sporting track of it and it’s not a bad rule of thumb.

And of course, it’s very useful to take those tips to heart.

I’ll probably never get robbed (two beefy dogs, beacon lighting, family in and out of the house all the time at random, no real routine, wife who knows how to use firearms, etc. etc.) but I still talk to my neighbors, keep an eye on their places, keep tabs on when they go on vacation, they do the same for me, etc.

Just being neighborly tends to very much help. Of course, there’s some social side effects, but y’know.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:30 PM on November 24, 2008


2.) Get to know your neighbors; watch their houses, have them watch yours. Remarkably effective.

We live amongst a few retired folks that have nothing better to do than watch who parks in whose driveway. One of them actually asked me who came to visit me the other week, because he saw a Toyota Camry in our drive. (They also complain if we don't pick up the morning newspaper.) I'd hope they'd be just as nosy if our house was broken into.
posted by desjardins at 3:43 PM on November 24, 2008


Interestingly, NPR was just running a story about how crime rates were actually down during the Depression, though a lot of that was due to the waning of prohibition.
posted by klangklangston at 4:02 PM on November 24, 2008


I got broken into twice in the same apartment, some years ago. The second time they used a car jack on my metal door but paradoxically took very little.

The detective was top-notch - I felt "guilty" the first time because I had no idea how they got in and wondered if he thought it was insurance fraud and he looked at me as though I was a little dumb and said, "They pulled that window open in your bathroom, see your shower curtain rod is bent? They used that to get down, there's a bit of a footprint there." Wow, clues! Right, he's a detective. He told me that most burglars operate within a 10 minute walk of their home - "chances are you've passed the guy on street".

Here, I'm on the ground floor and it's a high-break-in neighborhood. However, I'm here an awful lot at weird times, I have serious bars on the windows, and a very active neighbor who has been in that apartment for 40 years... and who's an ex-con himself (muscles, tattoos) but thinks the world of me. Best burglar alarm ever - I wouldn't want to get on his bad side.

And I'm insured, too. Learned after the breakin...
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 5:25 PM on November 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


When I saw all those news stories about gun sales increasing "after the election", I guessed that we were really talking about "since the economic flushing sound started getting louder and louder."

This seems to support that notion.


The flushing sound is pretty loud in Florida. Hooray for the castle doctrine.


posted by taumeson at 6:15 AM on November 25, 2008


i know someone whose *garden* got stolen this year. now if that ain't a sign of the times, i don't know what.
posted by RedEmma at 10:16 AM on November 25, 2008


The cops will actually take time to dust for fingerprints? Riiiiiiight

In fact, they did dust the glass change bowl for prints and lifted a partial after the second time I was robbed.
posted by ijoshua at 7:29 PM on November 27, 2008


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