When Erma Bombeck complained that it takes so long to secure the house (Detroit Free Press: 03-02-90) before she and her husband retired to bed because of increased crime I was amused. Because it sounded more like the neighborhood I lived in until recently – only a hair worse.
Burglarizing homes and stealing of cars at night while owners are enjoying their sleep is so common that securing homes and property has become very demanding. Our home was surrounded by an eight foot brick wall with jagged sharp glass along the top edge.
Before going to bed every night the security routine was that we first locked the metal front gate between the walls entrance. We made sure the two dogs were fed, alive, and barking and the outside security lights were switched on. Then I practically disassembled the automobile engine and took it to the security of our bedroom upstairs. The front and back doors were triple locked and all windows around the house were shut. Valuables like T.V, stereo, and computers had to be shipped from the living room to our bedroom. All the doors leading from the kitchen to the dining to the living room were locked. In the morning all of this had to be undone including reinstalling the car engine before driving the kids to school at 7 a.m. The bit about undoing the car engine might be a little exaggerated but doesn’t this sound like What Erma Bombeck was describing but only a tad worse?
Incidentally, this was life in the Capital City of Lusaka in my home country of Zambia until recently in December 1989. Yes, many Americans and millions of Zambians live there and it is no more dangerous than in many neighborhoods here. My wife and I and the two American neighbors we knew were never robbed. Except one time when I parked down town Lusaka and my spare tire was stolen. But then I had parked there safely millions of times before the incident. Perhaps the lesson in all of this is that it doesn’t matter where you live in an urban environment these days, the world is becoming more similar than different. Urban crime is escalating in most cities of the world.
****Unpublished article to the features editor of the Detroit Free Press, 321 W. Lafayette, Detroit, MI 48231, 7th March, 1990. After many visits to Lusaka in Zambia since 1990, the urban crime is not as bad as it was in 1989.