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Old 03-23-2009, 01:36 AM
Location: Newtown, Bucks County, Pennsylvania
463 posts, read 1,367,359 times
Reputation: 275


I keep hearing stories from all sorts of people, on this forum and off it, about how people back in the 60s and 70s felt safe enough to leave their cars and even their homes unlocked in many parts of the country.

As a person who was born in the 80s, the idea of leaving your car unlocked anywhere but inside your own garage is inconcievable to me. Even in my parents' quiet suburban development--where the biggest crime to have happened there in ten years was probably a minor zoning ordinance violation--I lock my car when I park it on the street. Even at places where I feel completely safe I still double check to make sure my car is locked.

But I heard from people who back in the day would park in front of stores, in downtown areas, etc, and leave their cars unlocked, sometimes even with the keys in the ignition! I've even heard stories where people would double park and leave the keys in the ignition, so that if the owner of the first car comes back first he can simply move the second car to get his out! Did this actually happen or was the person who told me that story just pulling my leg?

I'm really interested to hear if any of the members of the forum who were around in the 60s and 70s left their cars unlocked, and if so, where did you do it and around what years?
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Old 03-23-2009, 04:33 AM
Location: Cold Frozen North
1,928 posts, read 4,630,254 times
Reputation: 1274
In the 70s, I still locked my car unless it was in the garage. It depends on where you are. Any city, always lock it up. Suburban areas maybe you can leave it unlocked, but not overnight. Rural areas, especially far away from big cities where crime may be almost non-existent you're probably safe leaving it unlocked.

Me personally, I lock my car everywhere except when it's in my garage. Force of habit, but a good habit. I wouldn't want to have my car stolen because I was careless. I remember as a kid when my family moved out of Chicago to a rural area. One of the farmers my dad knew saw my dad lock his car. His response was, why are you doing that. This isn't Chicago you know.
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Old 03-23-2009, 04:40 AM
Location: 602/520
2,441 posts, read 6,118,248 times
Reputation: 1815
I still keep my doors unlocked. Believe or not, there are MANY areas of this country where if you leave your car door unlocked, or even your window down, nothing will happen.
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Old 03-23-2009, 04:52 AM
Location: West Michigan
12,084 posts, read 34,145,269 times
Reputation: 16839
I don't lock my car doors now. Shoot half the time if I am going to be in the store for a short time I don't even turn if off, just let it run in the winter so it is still nice and toasty when I get back out, or nice and cool in the Summer. My wife doesn't even have a house key, and I would have to check to make sure I could find mine if I were to lock the house up. Doors and windows open? All the time in the Summer, shoot had them all open yesterday and we were gone all day.

No he wasn't pulling your leg about not locking stuff up. It all depends on your area as well, even though I TRIED to get a brand spanking new Camaro stolen one time in Boston because it was such a POS for quality. Left it unlocked, with the t-tops off and the keys in the ignition for HOURS in downtown Boston in the late 90's. Damn thing was still there when we got back so I had to suffer through owning that POS for a long time.
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Old 03-23-2009, 08:04 AM
Location: roaming gnome
12,391 posts, read 24,552,631 times
Reputation: 5662
I leave my car unlocked and my windows down still....nothing in there to steal anyway. I'm in a safe residential community though.

Even in Chicago I didn't lock my condo door... We had doormen, security guards, and you had to use 2 key swipes to get into the main area... so going to the gym or something, I definitely left my door unlocked and keys at home
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Old 03-23-2009, 09:48 AM
Location: Concrete jungle where dreams are made of.
8,900 posts, read 13,230,919 times
Reputation: 1819
Not when my parents were young adults in NYC, lol. At least in the 70s, NYC was far from safe.
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Old 03-23-2009, 09:52 AM
2,601 posts, read 4,068,969 times
Reputation: 2275
I grew up in Omaha in the 60's, and we locked the doors to our house, but not always to our car. When we went downtown to shop, we usually locked the car doors, but not always. We lived in a good neighborhood, but most people locked their houses.
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Old 03-23-2009, 10:42 AM
593 posts, read 1,177,416 times
Reputation: 389
In most of Texas you could do that in the 60's & 70's but not today. Times have changed and most of the used to be small towns and cities have grown into larger cities w/more crime. Take for instance, Austin, Corpus, Beaumont, Galveston, and even the suburbs of these places have become much larger. Moreover, the entire US populace is more mobile. Not to mention illegals breaking into everyone's deerleases in rural parts of the state stealing or squatting (sp?). I guess with cars and houses its kinda like the old saying "Good fences make good neighbors," same can be said of locked doors. If you come through mine uninvited, you risk a bullet to the face.
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Old 03-23-2009, 10:44 AM
5,857 posts, read 14,041,383 times
Reputation: 3482
One of my favorite back in the day stories was from one of my uncles. He and my dad took a trip from upstate NY to Chicago via motorcycle one summer just before WWII. They got as far as Erie, PA the first day and decided to spend the night. They found a car parked on the street (it was unlocked of course), climbed in and went to sleep. Next moring, they were awakened by the car's owner, who apologized to them, telling them they'd have to get out because he needed to drive to work.

My uncle told this story rather casually and I asked why they didn't get in trouble and why the car's owner wasn't mad. He said it was the Depression and "everyone helped everyone out in those days".

Can you imagine what would happen if a couple teenagers were found sleeping in an unlocked car today?
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Old 03-23-2009, 10:46 AM
Location: Atlanta
7,732 posts, read 12,146,101 times
Reputation: 2774
^Cool story, Ben Around!

Sadly, today they would at the very least end up in jail, or blown away by a trigger happy a$$hole.
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