A week after I moved to Manhattan, I went to a street fair and found there a policeman with a big sign: HELP US PREVENT CRIME
I approached, “I’m game. How can I help you prevent crime?”
He said, “By putting three locks on your door.”
“But I already have two locks on my door, and I find it really annoying. How does having three prevent crime?”
“Years ago, everyone had one lock, so we told them to get two. Now everyone has two, so you need three.”
“But how does having three prevent crime?”
“The thing is, crooks are lazy… if they weren’t they’d get jobs. Your goal is to make your door harder to break into than the next one.”
“But that doesn’t prevent crime. It just gets my neighbor broken into instead of me.”
He laughed, “What do you care?”
A girl moved in across the hall a few months later. She did not have a phone and frequently asked to borrow mine, so I began leaving my door open. She reciprocated, and soon a bunch of us on the floor did. Our tiny apartments became less claustrophobic. Friendlier too…
There were break-ins in our building. But not on our floor – even though none of us bought that third lock. Perhaps it was because we were looking out for each other.
It takes community to prevent crime, and communities are made from open doors, not locked ones.
Putting more locks on your door prevents crime just like stuffing your face prevents hunger.