Years ago at our house in Canada, my parents went to our door one day to find that someone had left a package inside our home. It was simply a package that had been delivered to the wrong address, but the fact is that the people who dropped it off weren't generally known to like us. And the fact is that when they came to drop it off, they didn't ring our doorbell. They just opened our front door and slipped the package inside. You can imagine that my parents were disturbed by the fact that someone who didn't like us had entered our home so easily and without notice. From that day on, we have always locked our front door even when we were at home.
I didn't carry this tradition to school with me immediately. In fact, I even stayed at one apartment in Provo where the girls refused to lock the apartment at all, ever. All night, the door was unlocked. All day, the door was unlocked. And though I tried to encourage them to lock the door, they never did. Not even after one of their cars was broken into in the apartment's underground parking.
In Italy all the doors lock automatically. In fact, most doors don't even have door knobs on the outside of the apartment---all you have to enter your home is the key hole. The Italians said that they always thought that it was a very implausible part of American movies when an intruder would enter a home simply by walking through the front door. That the front door would not be locked was inconceivable to them. When they finally saw Bowling for Columbine, they were shocked to discover that doors do actually remain unlocked in many American (and Canadian) homes.
I've enforced a strict locked-door policy since last year, when Tolkien Boy had a scary experience. While he was in his apartment in his bedroom, he heard his front door open. Of course, he assumed that it was one of his other roommates. He heard one of his roommates' bedroom doors open and then another roommate's door open, which was a little strange, so he decided to check in. He peeked his head into one bedroom to find a man packing up his roommate's laptop. When TB asked him what he was doing, the guy quickly left everything and ran out of the apartment. TB called his roommate before calling the police to double-check that he really hadn't been expecting a friend to stop by and borrow his laptop. While he was on the phone, he heard the other bedroom door of the apartment shut. There was still someone else in the apartment. He told his roommate that someone else was there, and that he was going to call the police. He asked the roommate to call a neighbor in the meantime so that TB didn't have to be alone in the apartment. After he said this, the second intruder came running from the other bedroom and left the apartment.
I only had to tell my roommates that story once before they decided that it was a good idea to lock the doors to the apartment.
The Boy and I have carried on the tradition in our apartment. Though one of us is in the house almost at all times, our front door is always locked.
Yesterday, a similar story to Tolkien Boy's happened to some friends down the street. One roommate was home during the break-in. The intruder came in, grabbed a back pack, grabbed a laptop, and left the apartment.
The only point I have in writing this, I suppose, is to tell you the stories and allow you to decide whether or not you want to lock your doors. But in a college town like this, people aren't breaking and entering. They're just entering. And we're making it easy.