I saw an ad on the side of a city bus the other day, which asserted
Lock it or lose it
Plus some details about how you should lock your doors to prevent crime. This sort of thing is pretty common. What does it say about our society? What does it tell people who are prone to stealing things?
It reminds me of a conversation over a meal during a company Christmas party about ten years ago. Somebody was talking about an acquaintance who was a real ‘computer security evangelist’. This acquaintance would drive around town with his laptop looking for insecure wireless access points. When he found one, he’d notify the owners that their system was insecure. What alarmed me was that the person telling the story seemed to think this was a positive activity. I asked him if he would consider it admirable for me to walk down the street trying doorknobs and when I found a door that was unlocked, go inside and tell the inhabitants that their house was insecure. That started a lengthy debate which promptly got off topic.
This is an interesting mentality. I’ve seen signs and T-shirts with things like “Trespassers will be shot on sight”, or “Trespassers will be violated” on them, but these are typically intended as a sort of joke. Instead, the serious signs are a warning to the honest folk that if they don’t lock their belongings away, or remove them, they might be stolen. Does this play into the old line of “finders keepers”? So if I go into some remote parking lot, and I check all the cars for cool stuff, can I feel better about myself for taking it because the previous owners should have known better, and this will teach them a lesson?
It’s probably no longer this way, but about 17 years ago I went to a conference in Japan. While there, I met up with a friend who had been living there for a year or so. He indicated that Japanese culture was really quite something compared to western culture. The example he gave was that you could probably leave your brief case at the train station next to a bench and come back and get it the next day, complete with its original contents. Wow. In these days, if it hadn’t already been emptied of valuables, somebody would try to detonate it for fear of a terrorist attack.