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Suburban Shed Drama

Updated on October 5, 2011

A while ago a friend told me his whole neighborhood was in an uproar because one of them had some things stolen out of their tool shed. To be sure, this is a rotten thing to happen to anyone, but of course the story doesn’t end there.

The first question I asked my friend was: “Was the shed locked?”

He said no.

So I replied, “Then they deserved it.”

My response may seem callous, but hear me out on this one.

Even the most high-end, expensive lock in the universe will not deter really passionate thieves. If they want your stuff, they’re gonna get it. Period. If they’re bound and determined to get your things, then they will find a way around any security system you throw at them. There’s nothing you can do to prevent that.

However, there are precautions one can take that lessen the likelihood of this sort of crime happening in the first place. A lock – any lock – placed on the shed doors would have been the absolute minimum amount of protection that the homeowner could have provided. An opportunistic thief, one that does it on the spur of the moment or specializes in quick raids, will probably not have in their possession a lock cutter.

Have you seen one of those things? They’re large (about two feet long!) and not exactly light. They’re certainly not something that can be easily concealed inside a pocket. Carrying a large, heavy tool around on a regular basis to cut off a lock that might be on a shed is too much trouble to go through just for a few gardening tools.

Having said that, the thief in this instance didn’t have that impediment, as the shed was unlocked. The homeowners failed in their duty to protect their belongings by not providing the most basic protection available. And locks are cheap; you can get a halfway decent combination lock for only five bucks, less if you shop around. Five bucks! That costs a lot less than a pair of pruning shears, or a lawnmower, etc.

This homeowner clearly has more money than brains, because they basically said to the world at large: “I can afford to replace anything I leave unprotected around the environs of my home. “ I seriously doubt they’d leave their car unlocked, so why should a shed be any different? They probably would have screamed a lot louder if the car had been stolen. Does the value of the item(s) at risk warrant more stringent protection measures? Perhaps, but that doesn’t mean the items of lesser value don’t deserve any kind of protection, simply because they cost less to obtain. Just get something appropriate to the value of the items being protected.

Leaving your tools in an unlocked shed is basically asking for someone to come along and grab them. Hopefully that will never happen to you, but you can’t expect that idealized view of the world to be shared by everyone. Neglecting to put up the most basic barrier to thievery is just stupid. You might as well put a sign in your front yard saying: “I’m a doofus, come and take my stuff.”

PS – when the homeowners called the police to report the theft, the police asked the same question I did. I felt vindicated.

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