Crack The Code

Posted at 11:00 PM November 10, 2005

Your house may be locked, but it's not hard to find a way in. For many of you, you've turned that keypad for your garage door into the proverbial "key under the welcome mat" for the bad guys.

"They use numbers in there that are easily figured out by the criminals." says Sgt. Steve McDaniel of Jonesboro Police.

So we put it to the test. In one random afternoon almost a third of the homes we checked with the owner's permission used their four-digit address as their four-digit code. This should be a huge concern in newer homes. Contractors and subcontractors know the garage door installer almost always makes the initial code the address or the year: 2004 or 2005.

Norm Jurs works for Bob's Carpet. He goes into a lot of new homes with permission but without a key. He, and virtually anyone who works in or on new homes knows,

"Most houses nobody has changed them. Usually people are living in the house or just getting ready to move in."

The easy access through the garage is symptom of a much bigger problem in Region 8: theft at new home sites. Materials, some that have to be left lying around, and some that don't, are easy targets for thieves. Nationwide, theft on the site cost 2-4 billion dollars a year. In fact, toolmaker DeWalt did a study that showed 77 percent of homes will get hit up to five times during the construction process. That cost is passed on to you in the amount of 1-2 percent more for your new home cost.

"If it's not nailed down you really have to watch it." Jeremy Lattin of Smith Masonry speaks from experience. The day before we talked to him, his crew had a load of concrete blocks stolen.

Ron Culperpper, with the Arkansas Home Builders Association, admits, the nature of the job makes for easy pickin's. But there are things you can do to secure your site if you're having a home built.

Make random visits to your site.

Go during the day and night.

Record serial numbers and brand names.

Write the job address on any big crates or cartons.

And, get timely delivery of appliances. Don't have them delivered until their ready to be installed.

And once again, if you have moved in, change that code! The instructions are usually on the flap and it only takes 30 seconds to make sure all your doors are locked.