Updated: Jan 17, 2019
Intruders galore. Thats what walked up my front path, when I lived at 1 Canning Street North Melbourne, just on the 'colorful' 57 tram line. How did I know? Because I ate my breakfast every day on the balcony above, and got to surprise them with a 'hello'. They would look up, blink and say something like:
'Oh, hello luv. I was just wondering if these bikes were for sale'.
One down-and-out yet creative lady even said:
'I've got some pipe I want to keep here for a bit, would that be okay'
'Sorry, my husband wouldn't like it' was my polite answer to her. My imaginary husband.
I dislike gates, as they stop me too, but I was considering getting one to protect my posessions.
Then one day I got stepping stones, and the colourful intruders pretty much dissapeared.
Security experts, real ones, will tell you that when you introduce an element of uncertainty, burglers prefer to go next door, somewhere more straightforward. A stepping stone takes all your focus just to balance, and robbers are then vulnerable to making a mistake and being found. The gravel has a tell-tale crunch. They subconsciously worry they might sprain their ankle making a hasty escape.
Building a wall will make someone rich, but not the owner of the wall. For actual security, its a waste of money. Living with alarms and barbed wire steal your freedom and pleasure in life, on a daily basis, much more than most robbers would ever steal in one heist.
There is an even more potent way of discouraging would-be burglers. My friend is a senior designer for Secom in Japan, the nations biggest security company. They invite robbers over for morning tea information sessions. Real designers reality test, after all.
'Tell me about a time you went to a neighbourhood intending to burgle a house, and changed your mind' is a question the robber was asked.
'Well' he said. 'This lady smiled at me as I walked down her street. I didn't feel like working after that'.
When you create a feeling of community, harmful elements just don't feel they belong. So read your mail at the box. Put a sitting bench in your front fence. You could even put a little blackboard in your garden, and write up in chalk whats growing, with an invitation to pick a bit.
Sit back, slightly visible if possible, and see how the crime rate goes.