Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Weakest point

Over the weekend a burglar struck several homes in northeast Lincoln, all within a half mile of the intersection of N. 84th and Holdrege Streets. While the residents slept, the thief came into the house through the passage door from the garage, and (for the most part) stole purses. Most of the purses and unwanted contents were found strewn about the neighborhood.

Entry into the garages was made through exterior walk-in doors, which were left unlocked in a few cases, but pried open in most cases. For homes with attached garages, this is usually the weakest point, and a common target for residential burglars—particularly daytime burglars.

When I bought my first new house in 1981, the walk-in door to the garage was at the back, pretty well concealed from the neighbors. It was a hollow-core door with a window, and a key-in-knob lock—about as easy to break into as you could possibly imagine.

Your walk-in garage door needs to be up to the same security standards as the other exterior doors: a solid door, with a sturdy jamb, and a deadbolt lock with an absolute minimum one-inch throw. I’d put a secondary bolt on it, personally. I do not have a walk-in door in my current residence, which is even better.

Our burglar seems to have taken advantage of the habit of depositing the purse on the kitchen counter, or some other spot pretty close to the passage door. It made for a quick in-and-out for the burglar, with minimal noise. People rarely lock the passage door between the garage and house—another practice that would be good to change.


Anonymous said...

I wonder if any of these people had dogs. Would a yippee dog, or a big dog make a difference to someone looking for an easy target?

Anonymous said...

My dogs are lose in the house at night. They would not attack an intruder (a good thing) but they most certainly would not be quiet while he was there. They would start barking once they figured out he was at the door. My idea (and hope) is that if my house is more inconvenient to burgle than the neighbors the crook will move down the block. I don't want them attacking anyone but I do want them to give me a heads up so I can call in the boys in blue.

Tom Casady said...

Where's the chihuahua when you need it?

Steve said...

I have three chocolate labs. If a burglar got into my house, we'd have to call the coroner...they'd lick him to death!

Anonymous said...

Or a trained Parrot.
Gun Nut

Anonymous said...

This post answered a lot of questions, and confirmed a lot of suspicions, that I had regarding why these houses were breached, while others were not.

It's easy to assume that everyone would have entry-point hardening as a major priority upon moving into a property, especially when they aren't living on a shoestring and are moving into an owner-occupied house. That you'd reflexively change the locks (so you don't have to trust everyone who ever had a key to your new-to-you home), install deadbolts on all exterior doors (including the passage door) that don't already have them ASAP - and then use all the locks, just seems like it should SOP for a move-in checklist. The hardware isn't free, but it's cheaper than being burgled.

I'm a fan of alarm systems, including simple intrusion alarms that will just blast a siren and wake the house up with an intruder alert, if that's all your budget allows. If you can afford more, think about a monitored system. In any case, like 6:53 wrote, make your house a harder target than the nearby alternative targets. You don't have to outrun the bear, just outrun your slowest fellow camper.

Anonymous said...

Interesting that at the townhouse development on the NW corner of 84th & Holdrege has zero marks - we don't have any exterior walk in doors to our garages.
I <3 deadbolts!

Anonymous said...

I beg and plead with my spouse to lock the door between our garage and kitchen, but it just doesn't register with him.

I am constantly noticing it unlocked and flipping the deadbolt, which pisses him off when he tries to come in a couple hours later and has to fish for his key.

On the whole, I'm way more security conscious than he is, in part because I read this blog, but also because as a female who lived alone until she was in her 40s, I am just more aware of stuff like this. Thanks for the reminder, again.

car54 said...

Gun Nut

This may be what your looking for in home protection.

ARRRRG!!!! said...

My little dog keeps the ninjas away.

car54 said...


I remember several years ago Hastings had very similar incidents were person(s) were entering homes at night and stealing from purses and wallets. They caught the people involved. There was a car invovled and a person would be dropped off to enter the house. Have to think it might be one of them back at work.

On a second note. I know there were some cases where young women were being grabbed at while walking, you had several cases if I remember right. I also see where there were two entries into house over the weekend where women were sleeping on couches. Could these cases be connnected. I know sometimes there is an escalation in these types of offenders

Anonymous said...

Here's another burglary, not related to the above, and it caught my eye, since it's my old school: A9-021272. Did they have an alarm? Perhaps any answer would be an OPSEC no-no, but I thought I'd ask.

Tom Casady said...


To the burglar: When you burglarize a church school, the chancery, and rectory, you go directly to your eventual destination, without stopping at purgatory.

Anonymous said...

If the burglar would like a travel pamphlet laying out the wonders of his future address, he could start here. It's got that little attached ribbon bookmark that I like so much.

Jim said...

At our house I've finally convinced my family that we need security in layers. So for the overhead door and the walk in door in our garage. The overhead door stays closed except when a vehicle is going in or out, or when I'm actually working in the garage. If I've mowing the back lawn the garage door is closed.

The walk in door is a steel door in a steel frame with a deadbolt lock and key in knob lock. And they both have a formed steel cover that wraps around the door. Both locks are secured all the time. Both doors have dusk to dawn lights.

After that all the vehicles in the garage are locked, and the door from the garage to the house is a solid core door with locks. Smaller items like rolling tool boxes, motorcycles, mower and snowblower are either locked or placed in such a way that they cannot be removed without the larger vehicles first being moved.

What more can a homeowner do?

ARRRRG!!!! said...


Put a light switch at the door into the house from the garage that cuts the power to the garage door opener. Flip the switch off at night when everyone is home that needs to use the main garage door. This will keep someone from driving by and opening the big garage door with their own opener.

here is the obligatory pirate reference)

JD said...

After the news broke on this, a friend was advocating the use of security system window decals, even if there was no real security system. Do you think that would deter burglars, or would they immediately see through the ruse and/or even be enticed by the prospect of something inside worthy of security system protection? Thanks for your insight...

Tom Casady said...


Don't think it can hurt. Obviously, the word eventually gets around if everyone uses fake stickers, fake alarm placards, and fake cameras. Nothing wrong with keeping the bad guys guessing, though.

On a related note, one of the stolen gift cards in these burglaries was redeemed at a store a little outside of Chicago.

Anonymous said...

You'd be surprised how inexpensive a basic self-installed alarm system can be. You can even put them in "chime" (ding dong like a store door) mode during the day and hear when your toddler or an Alzheimer's-afflicted relative wanders out. When they are armed and go off, they are painfully loud and would tend to cause most intruders to hit the road, and are terrific if you want to be awakened when one of your doors is breached.

You can get one with an auto-dialer for a little higher price, but keep in mind, the Lincoln municipal code prohibits dialing up emergency services with an auto-dialer, so how is that useful if one lives in Lincoln? Well, you can auto-dial your own cell phone with the recorded message, and then you could manually dial 911 and report a possible intrusion.

Only you can decide if a monitored service is worth the monthly fee. For many it is, but for some, it isn't. If you can run a drill and turn a screwdriver, you might just DIY, because one of these is arguably better than no alarm at all.

If you DIY, please, pretty please, install any motion detector correctly, or else don't install a MD at all, because improperly-installed MDs probably cause more false alarms than anything else.