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Editorial: 'Throw that dead bolt'!

Or, if you don't have a dead bolt, flip that lock switch -- for your house, garage and vehicle doors.

Last week the Journal first reported that more than 10 homes on the city's south side were burglarized in the wee morning hours. Two young local men were later rounded up and face criminal charges.

What they allegedly stole may have been immediately sold or pawned off. The predawn burglaries occurred on a Tuesday and a Saturday.

The headline for this editorial is part of a quote from River Falls Police Sgt. Jon Aubart. He was referring to the fact that all burglarized homes, garages and vehicles had unlocked doors.

Several other homes and garages, some next door to the burglarized ones, were untouched. Well, that's not exactly true. Footprints left in the fresh snow show intruders tried to enter those homes and garages, too, but they were stopped by locked doors.

Based on years of investigations by River Falls Police, Aubart estimates 75-90% of local burglaries and auto thefts occur when doors are left unbolted or unlocked.

These are crimes of opportunity, quick and easy, mostly done by amateurs. Their aim: Minimal risk, find valuables or cash at a glance, scoop up the loot, get out, go.

Why be victimized like this? Why risk a chance encounter with an intruder in your living room or kitchen in the middle of the night? Or wake in the morning and find the mess an intruder left and have to deal with personal losses?

Locking up isn't foolproof protection. But your odds go up so dramatically it's close to being totally protected. Remember: While we live in the small community of River Falls, we still need to be cautious and play it safe. So each night, throw the dead bolt, flip the lock switch.