shhh! the Petit door was left unlocked...

The News Media Whispers the Truth about Crime

Two paroled burglars entered the Petit home on 23 July 2007 in upper-middle class Cheshire CT through an UNLOCKED door, beat and bound the male resident, tortured and raped his wife and two daughters for six hours, then poured gasoline on the females and set them afire. Neighbors were shocked that any crime could happen there.

Three guests on Larry King’s 30 July TV show droned on about reforming parole regulations to prevent such home invasions in the future. Fine, reform the system. But remember that not all predators are paroled felons – they might well be felons already released from parole or up-and-coming young monsters with clean records. What about them?

Inexplicably, the unlocked door the killers had entered was never mentioned on Larry King (and just barely mentioned four times in hundreds of media reports). The glaring flaw in basic home security that led to the fiendish destruction of the Petit family was glossed over as though it was a minor detail. The elephant sitting in the middle of the room was nearly invisible.

Now, had the Petit door been locked, the invaders likely would’ve looked for other ways in, and if that failed, likely would’ve moved on to look for unlocked doors elsewhere (few doors in that naïve “safe” neighborhood were locked – as one report mentioned) and a different family likely would’ve been attacked instead.


The media also had their eyes wide shut during the Elizabeth Smart kidnapping in Salt Lake City in 2002. The kidnapper had entered through an open window (after quietly cutting the screen). She was abducted and raped for months afterward. Yet the danger of leaving a window open, as usual, got scant attention in the massive media coverage. Since then, the father, the ironically named Ed Smart who’d recruited the Charles Manson-like panhandler to shingle his roof (and also left windows wide open through the night) sometimes appears on TV panel discussions (as an "expert," no less) where his spectacular security blunders go politely unmentioned. How could his opinions on crime prevention possibly matter when he’s never owned up to (or even realized) his blunders?

Of course the media doesn’t want to “blame the victims.” It would almost seem cruel to add insult to injury – to blame those unwitting naïf’s for contributory negligence. But, as a result, the one possible silver lining in the Petit tragedy – explicitly warning the public of possible horror from leaving doors unlocked and/or windows open – was squandered, lost forever. We’ll never know how many subsequent victims of such crimes might have been spared. But just the possibility of sparing even one innocent soul from such a hideous fate would be well worth the tiny effort.

Many months later, the state legislature was still trying to forge new laws to “curb” such Petit type massacres in the future, yet NO mention was made of the UNLOCKED door! And now all subsequent news media reports refer to the Petit invasion as a “break-in” rather than the harsh truth that the primary facilitator of the massacre was a “walk-in” through an UNLOCKED door! The old adage is true: “None are so blind as those who refuse to see.” The elephant in the middle of the room is now completely invisible.


Roughly half of the 4,000-plus home intrusions daily in the US (that’s 1.4 million annually, per the US DOJ) are “Walk-Ins” through doors and windows blithely left unlocked until bedtime or until leaving the home unoccupied. Is the invisible elephant starting to come into focus now?

Of course nobody wants to blame the victims. Those innocents were lulled into the same false sense of security that seduces most people living in the Sleepyvilles of the world. They just didn’t realize that predators far outnumber the police – and that predators have all heard how Sleepyville has poor security – where people actually brag about not locking their doors or windows!

Some particularly innocent victims leave their doors unlocked even after they’ve been invaded through unlocked doors! It’s not always easy to find sympathy for such wanton carelessness, but we must remember, after all, that they are indeed innocent victims – in both senses of the word.

Yet when some poor souls end up butchered, their murders will be bemoaned in the media – with barely a peep about their unlocked doors or windows. And on and on it goes.


Actually, it’s hard to blame and shame the news reporters for sugarcoating the cold reality. In fact, the surviving victims themselves usually are in blind denial of the blatantly obvious and brutal truth – that their contributory negligence led to such anguish. It happens more often than not in heinous crimes – it’s human nature, a coping mechanism. They probably can’t bear to admit it even to themselves – the angst would be too great.

The news reporters shudder when they see it up close and personal thus they opt for mercy on the surviving victims. Nevertheless, wouldn’t the public’s ignorance and their blasé safety attitude diminish (at least a bit) if the media regularly mentioned a brief, tactful security precaution at the end of each crime news report? Is the media too polite and too charitable to save future victims – even if it’s just one?

It’s a shame that those who’ve suffered a crime due to unlocked doors and windows had to learn such a harsh lesson the hard way. The news media could have – and should have – done a better job of warning them. It's so ironic to see charity causing such inadvertent harm.

Rather than whispering the truth, the media should shout it for all to hear.

Be honest now. Do you keep all your doors and windows locked at all times? If not, re-read the above. Gamble in Vegas, not in your life.

POSTSCRIPT: Here We Go Again!

The New London Day (CT) – 31 March 2008 – New Britain CT ...Leslie Williams confessed that he entered the UNLOCKED home looking for money and keys to a car, but when two women inside saw his face, he had no choice but to shoot them....

Many news articles and broadcasts covered this story but this is one of the few that briefly mentioned that the door was unlocked. Just eight months earlier in nearby Cheshire CT, two monsters entered the Petit home through an unlocked door.

Now two women were attacked through yet another unlocked door! And once again the media glosses over the unlocked door. Once again they did not emphasize that a nightmare never would have happened if the door had been locked. The media blew yet another chance to help prevent future crimes.

Will the news media ever wake up and thoroughly emphasize simple life-and-death lessons within crime news stories?


By Michael Edward Loftus Sr at
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Crime-Safety-Security > Article Bank > Petit Massacre

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