Yes, we’re in Iowa. But remember to lock it up

By Kay Curtis
Special to the Chronicle

I believe that locks are more than door adornments. Although some are beautiful enough to be classified as art, they have a function – to keep our possessions from growing legs and walking away. However, there are people who don’t see the value in using the functional part locks. In fact, I’m reminded of a time shortly after I moved to Iowa, about 10 years ago, when I was teased about using such protective measures. It was a really cold winter that year. When I went to raise my garage door, it wouldn’t budge. It then occurred to me to go through the side door to try the emergency release. The key slid in the lock, but it wouldn’t turn even a fraction. I was having a bad day!

So, I called my boss to tell her that I’d be running late, and let her know why. She just laughed at me and said, “Kay you’re in Iowa now. You don’t have to lock up everything.” Although it had become pretty much automatic for me to lock everything, after that, I decided to let down my guard, and consciously try to not lock every single solitary thing. I was aware that many of my neighbors didn’t even lock the doors to the homes; I should be able to leave my garage door unlocked – right?

Ironically, I learned a few months later that, when neighbors down the street from weren’t at home, someone had gone in through an unlocked back door and stolen a laptop. Several years later, a few blocks from my house, a homeless man was found sleeping in an unlocked vehicle (sad, but I’ll leave my opinion of this for another time).  Most recently, my neighbor across the street (a carpenter by trade) had expensive tools stolen right out of his truck parked in his driveway.  He went out the next day and purchased a brand new van with nice shiny locks that work. Theft had taken place even at my job. Security would periodically remind everyone to store valuables out of sight, or locked them away when not at our desks.

I get it though. I suspect that theft in urban areas of Iowa happens far less often than in large cities across the nation. In rural areas, it’s probably non-existent. We trust our neighbors – we believe that most people are inherently good. Many people are running ragged trying to keep up with all they have to take care of; family, work, and community responsibilities. They simply do not take the time to lock up their possessions or do not see the need to, until “it” happens.

I ask, why create the temptation for a few who do not understand that they shouldn’t take other people’s property? We all have a responsibility to our fellow human beings to remove temptations and stumbling blocks where we find them.  Iowans are kind and trusting, but unfortunately break-ins and theft happens. I urge everyone to begin locking your locks!

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