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I live in a nice suburb in NE Jersey, a bedroom community for New York City commuters.  A couple of months ago I looked out the window one morning and saw this police officer, notebook in hand, knocking on doors and talking to homeowners up and down my street.  I was on my way out the door when he made the walk up my driveway.  Stopping at my car I asked him what was going on, and he proceeded to say there was a string of petty thefts that had occurred overnight.  This had happened once many years before....a carload of “outsiders” come into the neighborhood in the wee hours, race up and down the street and rummage through any unlocked cars taking anything they perceive to be of value.  (This time around there was one unlucky guy down the street from me who did have his actual car stolen.).  Stuff like cell phones, cash, briefcase, etc.   I never lock my car at night, neighborhood’s safe and all that.   So I lost a cell phone charger and an iPod.  (The cop actually got a little chuckle out of the fact I still had an iPod.).   These “kids” basically wanted to grab anything that’s small, easily portable, that makes for quick work and they can resell quickly.

As I was giving the officer my report I realized, “oh crap, I had some valuable boxes in the back of my wagon!”  Fortunately, the perpetrators either didn’t have the time, couldn’t be bothered with the bulk, or had no idea what was in there, never mind where to resell it.  And so these remained untouched in my unlocked car.

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I started locking my car after that.  But that lasted about a week.  Too much to remember, LOL.  There were a couple of Lionel boxes in the Volvo last night.  But they were empty.  😀

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Last edited by mike.caruso
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    I live in a small town, and I started locking my car the day I went to a gas station, filled-up, went in to pay, and came back to find some jerk removing the groceries from my car. His reaction? "Why, ****, I didn't think you'd be done so fast".

    I get nervous leaving trains in my locked car at York, I'd NEVER do it anywhere else.

Hee Hee. Sorry for the Laughter but really? I live at the extreme other end of this ARMPIT state of NJ. I live on the bay side below the Hope Creek and Salem Nuclear plants. At this end if someone left their car unlocked we call it Stupid. That is plain and simple. But those who break end or try to loot a vehicle, unlocked or not, usually feel some thing called Shot on their back side. They are lucky if they can even crawl away. I deliver plants in your lovely North Eastern area and all I can say is it reminds me of California. Whacky. Not sure how you fit in up there as you have trains and definitely can not be part of that group. If you need help I can help find a place for you down here and I would even volunteer to help you move. Personally I want out of New Jersey. They are killing us with taxes. Soon will be taxed to breath. If they tax me for my train real estate I am GONE! LOL Hey at least we have trains!

@sinclair posted:

No locking your car or house just boggles my mind.  I also lock up, even when I am in the middle of nowhere.  It takes 2 seconds to push the lock button.  I also never leave anything of value in a car.  Glad your trains are safe.

Where I used to live the police blotter in the monthly newsletter always has at least one report of items stolen from an unlocked car.  Usually, it mentioned (by the victim) these items were in plain sight!

My dad taught us (long before we were old enough to drive) to always lock the car.

Rusty

@CurtisH posted:

Maybe he is or has a trunk layout?

Actually.....I’m still fiddling with the track plan.   Stubbornly trying to keep to O-60 curves but I don’t think it’s gonna work.  May have to drop down to O-36, which will kind of limit me to switchers and LionMasters but , hey, sometimes you have to make concessions.  Was going to add a second level but that would require keeping the sunroof open, which would be a problem when it rains.  Also, I’ve heard anecdotal stories that going through EZ Pass can play havoc with the DCS signal, and I can’t operate conventional while driving so....maybe the whole idea is Stupid, plain and simple (no matter where in Jersey you live)..

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Ever see the movie "Clockers"?   A pretty good movie by Spike Lee.

The "hero", a 17 year old dope dealer in the Projects of New York, who was trying desperately to get out of the bad life due to his bleeding ulcer from stress, spent most of his money building a three tiered O-Gauge layout in his tiny project apartment.  He had a really nice ZW running it.  He loved trains, but had never ridden on one in his life.

I guess the folks who broke into your car (or, more accurately, simply opened the doors of your car), hadn't seen the movie, or else they  would have snatched up those engines.  :-)

Mannyrock

@mike.caruso posted:

Actually.....I’m still fiddling with the track plan.   Stubbornly trying to keep to O-60 curves but I don’t think it’s gonna work.  May have to drop down to O-36, which will kind of limit me to switchers and LionMasters but , hey, sometimes you have to make concessions.  Was going to add a second level but that would require keeping the sunroof open, which would be a problem when it rains.  Also, I’ve heard anecdotal stories that going through EZ Pass can play havoc with the DCS signal, and I can’t operate conventional while driving so....maybe the whole idea is Stupid, plain and simple (no matter where in Jersey you live)..

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Thanks Mike! I just had to wipe hot tea from my computer screen I laughed so hard!

-Greg

We lock everything, all the time. Meanwhile my neighbor leaves everything wide open. I guarantee I'd get robbed before he did. I'm in central Nassau County LI, can't turn you back on anything around here unfortunately. I even lock the car when I go into the gas station to pay.

I think some post war magna-traction might be best for the back of the car though

@D500 posted:

Yes, to both. In spades. I don't get it.

Guys, guys, guys....c'mon!  LOL.  Do you really think I store my trains in the car??  I had transported trains from one location to another (from the train club to my home) started unloading them, when in the middle of unloading it something came up.  Maybe my wife said "dinner!"  Maybe I walked into the house just as the TV said "Here's Alex Trebek!"  Maybe the phone rang.  In any case, enough time went by that I forgot there was still stuff in the car.  Next day, they were still there.  I was lucky.

Do I deliberately sit in my recliner every night and say "should I lock the car tonight....nah, what could possibly happen?"  No!  LOL.  If I remember, I lock it.  Most of the time I forget.  Believe me, I'm not the only one in this area.

If you want to be horrified even further, there are actually people who have left their extra key fob IN THE CAR overnight....above the visor, in the glove compartment, etc.  In some of those instances, yes, the car was stolen.

Last edited by mike.caruso

Melgar:  why not leave them in there?  I thought of it but it would have cut into the available space for the freight yard.  

Lou1985:  That's it, exactly.  What's the Willie Sutton quote?  Why do you rob banks?  Because that's where the money is.  The next town over is lot ritzier, Dwight Gooden, Phil Simms, Giants GM Dave Gettleman live there ( or used to).  Apparently this sort of drive by snatch-and-grab thing is more prevalent over there than here.  

I live in the same general area as Mike (NE NJ, bedroom community about 40 miles west of NYC as route 80 lies), and it is the same thing here, it is crimes of opportunity. It is either local kids, or because it is easy access from highways, people driving around looking for unsecured cars. The local crime rate is really low, but this kind of thing goes on, stuff stolen from unlocked cars (occasionally people will break a window, but it is rare, too noisy). when cars are stolen it is because they are keyless and people leave the fobs in the car (don't ask me why).

I grew up in the house I live in, and it was different back then, house was never locked, we didn't lock the cars and often they had the keys in them, we never had a car stolen, it was like that. Was less built up back then and also with highway access it wasn't as easy to get in/out and away to wherever the thief lives. I remember when my parents first started going to florida during the winter months, I would go to check on their house, and would end up locking the one door lock that worked, and then making sure the rest of the doors and such were barred. About the worse thing that happened was a squirrel got in through a door that had blown open...but then again, my folks didn't exactly have all that much worth stealing, either, it is the way they lived.  On the other hand, my wife, who grew up in city areas, and then having lived in the Bronx for a number of years and other city areas, it seems weird to think about the way I grew up.

@mike.caruso posted:

I live in a nice suburb in NE Jersey, a bedroom community for New York City commuters.  A couple of months ago I looked out the window one morning and saw this police officer, notebook in hand, knocking on doors and talking to homeowners up and down my street.  I was on my way out the door when he made the walk up my driveway.  Stopping at my car I asked him what was going on, and he proceeded to say there was a string of petty thefts that had occurred overnight.  This had happened once many years before....a carload of “outsiders” come into the neighborhood in the wee hours, race up and down the street and rummage through any unlocked cars taking anything they perceive to be of value.  (This time around there was one unlucky guy down the street from me who did have his actual car stolen.).  Stuff like cell phones, cash, briefcase, etc.   I never lock my car at night, neighborhood’s safe and all that.   So I lost a cell phone charger and an iPod.  (The cop actually got a little chuckle out of the fact I still had an iPod.).   These “kids” basically wanted to grab anything that’s small, easily portable, that makes for quick work and they can resell quickly.

As I was giving the officer my report I realized, “oh crap, I had some valuable boxes in the back of my wagon!”  Fortunately, the perpetrators either didn’t have the time, couldn’t be bothered with the bulk, or had no idea what was in there, never mind where to resell it.  And so these remained untouched in my unlocked car.

1BBF5BE9-E6B5-4B53-99F9-8ABC1ABC9FC5

I started locking my car after that.  But that lasted about a week.  Too much to remember, LOL.  There were a couple of Lionel boxes in the Volvo last night.  But they were empty.  😀

I was from North Jersey Too! I cant believe you feel that secure in Bergen County to leave your car doors unlocked.

I moved out of Bergen County to Hunterdon back in 2006. Just like you I got too complacent and let my guard down in what seemed to be a bucholic area miles away from the interstate. But all that changed in 2016 when the same thing happened to me on my block at 4:30 am. Car thieves heading to Newark  NJ from Allentown, got off the highway and their car broke down in our neihborhood. The thieves hotwired a P.O.S. Lebarron Convertible with top down from a persons driveway then went up the block pulling door handles and stealing what they could. I lost $5.00 in change plus they found out how to open my trunk and lost a pair of just purchased shocks for that car which was over $300.00. Country, bucholic, or not, I now make sure my doors are locked when I leave my ride!

Last edited by prrhorseshoecurve

My great-grand father built a house in 1894 that's still in my family. Recently, my mom died at 97 and I rented the house to a nice lady. The first thing she asked was about a key. After a few dumb looks and some stammering, I found the original "skeleton" type key to the front door and the kitchen door, and handed them to her. It's probably the first time in 120 years that those doors are being locked.

I built the house I live in, at the other end of the driveway from mom's house, in 1991. The front and rear doors came with keys, but we never have locked the doors. This past year, as the refugees from NYC started to infest our little town, my wife suggested that we start locking the house. After all, she reasoned, Mr. Glock, our director of safety and security, isn't always on duty.  I managed to find the keys, and had a few duplicates made.

There are lots of little changes that are taking place due to the pandemic and the other unmentionable nonsense going on. One small change is that now I need to lock a house for the first time in my 74 years, and I bring the car keys in at night. <sigh>

When I first started dating my wife 44 years ago we had a quizzical misunderstanding about locks.   I was raised in Brooklyn which taught me to lock up everything (except my mouth).  My wife's early years were on a ranch in Eastern Washington, then after 5 years old she grew up in Seattle.

When we would get out of the car to go into a store I would lock the car every time.   She thought that I was being silly as that that was unnecessary.  I told her that I just couldn't give up that habit.  After a relatively short time she too would lock her car (or at least not question my locking up the car).  As America has devolved into its current state people around Seattle now lock up their cars more than they used to. 

What bugs me is that, even though we live in an extremely low crime neighborhood, is that she doesn't lock the door to the house when she is home.  When I come home from work, and the door is unlocked, I ask her if the killers called in sick today.  I can't get it out of my mind that about 25-30 years ago a psycho committed gruesome murders in this neighborhood.  I guess the male gender is more genetically evolved to be the protector.

On the occasion that we forget to lock the garage the first thing I look for is my Stihl orange chainsaw holder.  If it's still there I know we weren't robbed.

Crime is everywhere, and I think worse than ever.  But, it's nothing new.  I built a clinic about 40 years ago which we opened before Christmas.  Someone stole a fir tree right out of the landscaping for a Christmas tree.  Many years ago I coined the phrase: there's an a**hole for every occasion.

Alan

Ex NYer as well and here is my story. I live in a gated community down here in Florida and I also have it ingrained to lock everything and take other precautions. About 10 years ago, before leaving on a long vacation, I told my wife that I was putting all of my valuables in the trunk of one of our cars (residing in my locked up garage), since no thief would look there, and asked her if she wanted me to place her jewelry there as well. After telling me that I needed to let go of my NY paranoia, she relented and gave me the family heirlooms and other jewelry, but made sure to let me know that it was just to entertain my hyper sensitive paranoia.  Well, sure enough, when we returned three weeks later, we found the rear sliding glass door broken and the house ransacked. The high end alarm we have didn’t even engage! Fortunately, only costume jewelry was taken and the stash in the trunk of the car was safe and secure. They must have been pretty disappointed, as all of the rooms were turned upside down in their search for valuables, but nothing of value was found.  The only room undisturbed  was the train room, which had the door open and was clearly viewed by the culprits. Clearly an obvious place to ransack and look for hidden valuables, but not a thing was disturbed. Heck, the collection alone would have been a nice haul if dumped on the open market.  I can only imagine that the kids that robbed us (it’s always kids) appreciated what they saw and refrained from doing any damage. It made me feel some connection and respect for the little *******s. Needless to say, the wife no longer complains about my NY paranoia.

Last edited by Strap Hanger

I added dead bolts a few years ago.  As has been stated, it helps, but most residential doors, on wood frames, would easily open, with a shoulder push, or a kick.  360 Degree exterior lighting helps.  The neighbor's home has been vacant for two years, I try to maintain the grass, leaves, yard trash, etc. as if someone was there.  My guess a model train on the street might get $20.   Electric Garage door openers, another point of concern, apparently there are not that many different codes.

Last edited by Mike CT

ajzend wrote: "she doesn't lock the door to the house when she is home."

I was headed off somewhere one morning and my neighbor's front door was wide open with no car in the driveway.  I stopped and knocked on the door but no answer.  I went over to her dad's who lives 1/4 mile away and asked him if he had heard from her, but didn't tell him what I had seen (he was 90 then and didn't want to upset him).

Thinking the worst, I was going back home to call the cops when I spot a sheriff's car in the neighborhood.  I stopped and asked her to follow me home.  When we got there I let her (deputy) go to the door first (I was imagining my neighbor laying on the floor dead).  She knocked, and my neighbor came to the door surprised to see an officer.

Turns out, she was on the phone when I knocked and didn't hear me, plus her car was at the shop getting fixed.  What a relief!!!  Good thing is she was safe...and I got a nice hug from her for my efforts

She STILL keeps her front door open when she's home.  I have always locked my house and car doors, did manage to lock myself out of the house once but found a window I could jimmy open (fixed that too) to get inside.

When I lived in Wyoming many years ago, I never locked the car, and sometimes the key was still in the ignition.  However, since moving to the East Coast, I lock it ALL the time except in my locked garage.  It's a sad state of affairs, but it's a necessary precaution.  A bonus of all the newer cars is you just have to walk up and press the little button on the door handle, and away you go, so it's really not a big deal to lock it.  With push-button starting, I don't even take my keys out of my pocket except for the occasional battery change every year or so.

A few years ago, someone wrote a tongue-in-cheek instruction manual and had it published in the local paper. (Back when our town was notorious for no crime to speak of.)

"How to tell how long you've lived on Shelter Island"

Less than 6 months: You go to the post office, park the car, turn off the engine, set the brake, remove the baby, lock the car, set the alarm.

Less than a year, You park the car, turn off the engine, set the brake, take the baby, lock the car.

Less than two years, park the car, turn off the engine, take the baby, lock the car

Less than 4 years, park the car, turn off the engine, take the baby.

less than 6 years, park the car, leave it running, leave the baby, get the mail, go back to the car.

A few years ago, someone wrote a tongue-in-cheek instruction manual and had it published in the local paper. (Back when our town was notorious for no crime to speak of.)

"How to tell how long you've lived on Shelter Island"

Less than 6 months: You go to the post office, park the car, turn off the engine, set the brake, remove the baby, lock the car, set the alarm.

Less than a year, You park the car, turn off the engine, set the brake, take the baby, lock the car.

Less than two years, park the car, turn off the engine, take the baby, lock the car

Less than 4 years, park the car, turn off the engine, take the baby.

less than 6 years, park the car, leave it running, leave the baby, get the mail, go back to the car.

Less than 8 years, give the baby the keys and have him meet you by the door?

Rusty

I live in NW NJ and I always lock my car and house. Partially for criminals, partially for the local wild life. There is an extremely low crime rate in my area (around me, most intruders would be greeted with buckshot if they broke into a home). I could probably get away with leaving my car unlocked when I am out and about, but its the non-locals who I worry about. We have easy access to highways and the NJ/PA state line is under half and hour away so I always keep it locked.

On the topic of wildlife: A buddy of mine left his phone out on the front passenger seat and a bear thought it was something he could eat... Long story short he need a new passenger side door, a some bodywork, and a new phone

Bryce

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