Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Lock slows burglars

A few weeks ago, a burglary was reported at a self-storage unit in north Lincoln. It came to my attention because I know the victim, Steve, and he told me about the crime. Somebody clipped the padlock on his unit with bolt cutters, and made off with a trunk-load of goods. Among the stolen items were hundreds of jazz CDs.

The case was cleared when the suspects tried to sell the goods at a second-hand music/video/game store. I guess the people that showed up trying to offload the collection just didn't look like fans of classic jazz, and the owner was suspicious. He contacted us, and within a few days we had arrested three suspects--all meth addicts, two of whom are recently released from prison.

Before the arrests were made, I quizzed Steve about his padlock, and told him to get a disc lock. A few days ago, he confirmed that he had done so. Several years ago during an ACUDAT meeting, we were examining a spate of storage unit burglaries. During the discussion, Det. Sgt. Jeri Roeder mentioned that she rented a storage unit personally, and that the company required tenants to purchase a disc lock. She could never recall a case where one of these locks had been successfully attacked. No one else could either. From that point forward, the disc lock has been standard advice to owners and tenants of storage units.

This style of lock isn't a guarantee, but a standard padlock is a snap for a burglar armed with bolt cutters. Getting around a disc lock is a more complicated affair, and as we know, most burglars are essentially disorganized, lazy, and possessed of a rather short attention span. Let them move on to an easier target.

There have been 19 storage unit burglaries in Lincoln so far in 2008. The number has fallen like a rock over the past decade. I would attribute this in part to our efforts to promote better locks, in part to better physical security by complex owners, and in part to the proliferation of video surveillance systems. That's a very nice trend line.


Anonymous said...

Those disc locks are pretty good! Like "The Club" steering-wheel locks, you can defeat them with some extra effort and hardware, but it's easier to move on to a softer target. Never be the softest target available! This goes for your person as well as your property.

On a related topic of perimeter security, I don't suppose that concertina wire or razor wire are permitted as fence components on private property in the city limits. That would keep the average lazy burglar from trying to scramble over a fence, especially after they get "bit" once.

Josh said...

I am a manager at a self storage company in Lincoln, and disk locks are required here also. I really hope that all other storage companies will follow suit in this because we are all benefiting if we can make the whole industry safer.

Anonymous said...

Chief- What might you attribute the 2004 stat of 19 to?

Anonymous said...

It could be that back around late 2003, some "frequent fliers" got busted (for storage unit burglaries, of course). They got 2-5, but with CC sentence runs (as usual), and thus got kicked loose on parole in just 1 year, after spending most of 2004 as pampered guests of the taxpayers.

Then they went right back to "work", like such folks generally do, but the "work" gets more difficult all the time, due to better security measures.

That's all a series of hunches, but it seeems possible.

Anonymous said...

Any idea how the burglars managed to cut the disc lock in this case?

Tom Casady said...


1:32's guess is as good as any. Lincoln is still a city where the right person(s) in custody can make a big (if temporary) difference. I think our campaign to promote disc locks started well before 2004.


Steve did not have a disc lock. I sent him out to get one after the burglary.

Greg said...

I imagine the number of storage units in Lincoln has increased over the same time. It would be interesting to see what the number of burglaries per storage units is.

Anonymous said...

On the topic of major property crimes being made harder by tech countermeasures, do the incident reports keep track of whether stolen vehicles were equipped with factory-installed engine immobilizers or not?

I'm not sure if we have enough full-bore auto thefts (locked cars with no keys made available by a careless owner) in Lincoln to provide enough data, but I'm a big fan of OEM immobs, mainly because thieves learn that all these make/model cars have them, and move on without trying to boost your car, unless they have a tow truck.

Some automakers went to immobs ASAP, but some still don't use them, or perhaps make them optional, even in 2008! I believe that Canada requires all new cars sold (starting this year) must have a engine immobilizer.

Anonymous said...

The name brand (abus) disclocks are the way to go, do not get them confused with the lower priced disclocks though harder to cut (and access) are easier defated by alternate means.

jtman9200 said...

I wonder how the burglar was able to get into the storage unit without breaking the lock. This would be a really great story to update and let us know what ended up happening. I am sure they are able to catch the thief based on the fact that they have his phone number.