The Front Porch Gang

THE FRONT PORCH GANG “Yesterday, a friend of mine sent an e-mail out with this in the subject line: ‘You can’t own anything nice if you live inside the loop…’ She sent this because the large wooden bench she keeps on her front porch had been stolen. Carted off. In broad daylight. This was a big bench. It was not a one-person job. This tells me there must be a big gang of these people in the Heights, strolling around while we sit at our desks in office buildings, treating our houses like unattended garage sales. I would tell her to get a dog, but we have a dog. And we’ve still had every single thing not attached to our concrete foundation pilfered. Maybe she should get a dog bred for something besides decoration. Maybe that’s the key.” [A Peine for Your Thoughts]

31 Comment

  • Thanks for the shout-out Gus! Let me know if you see a wooden bench laying around…;-)

  • We all need nosy neighbors whose ears prick up every time someone comes near. We had one when I was a kid — her name was Mrs. Middleton and we called her Mrs. Meddleton. I’m sure she kept some would-be criminals away from our part of the block!

  • Then they steal the dog… not a joke.

  • Once we built an iron fence around our property and got garage doors for our carport, thefts at our house went from a couple of times a month to zero in the last 10 years.

  • You can own nice things, you just can’t leave them unsecured. Which is how city life is. I guess it’s because I’ve lived in cities where things would vanish much faster than here, but I am always pleased that nobody messes with my stuff in front of my house. That said, if you have valuable porch furniture, it pays to discreetly attach it to something with a kryptonite cable lock.

    I actually had the cover stolen off my motorcycle once in DC; I thought that was weird until a neighbor pointed out that a homeless person was probably sleeping in it (winter was coming).

  • It’s too bad stuff gets stolen, and those iron fences are very very expensive. I wire the hanging baskets to the hanging chains on the front porch so anyone wanting a raggedy fern would have to really work at it. Our dog slept through thieves opening the unlocked (now always locked) garage door to carry off the lawnmower. They left the bag. The dog needs another back-up dog to wake him up.

  • Thanks for the reminder. I’ve moved my pumpkin to the BACK porch. And its not just thievery but vandalism. A couple of Novembers ago my pumpkin was stolen during the night and used to smash the windshield of a VW down the block. I live in Shepherd Forest, so this happens OUTSIDE the Loop too.

  • Knock on wood, I haven’t had anything stolen in the 4 years I’ve lived here. And I live a quarter of a mile from high crime fondren southwest.

  • Hell, when I lived in Copperfield, I had stuff stolen out of my garage a couple times when I left it open for a short time. Now in the OSW, dont have a garage (house built before cars invented), so havent had anything stolen;)

    Concrete foundation in the Heights? You must live in of them fancy new redeveloped nieghborhoods. Maybe one of the ones where none of the neighbors know each other and watch out for them?

  • They are just trying to clear out the property before the house is set ablaze.

  • Speaking as a dog owner: you are better off with a dog who’s not a great watchdog. Professional thieves know how to deal with a good watchdog. You don’t want that to happen.

  • Once we built an iron fence around our property and got garage doors for our carport, thefts at our house went from a couple of times a month to zero in the last 10 years.

    It’s amazing what a nice tall, very tall, iron fence will do, isn’t it?

  • From LM:
    They are just trying to clear out the property before the house is set ablaze.

    You never know. Especially in The Heights.

    “I’m cold” says one bum to the other. “Let’s head to The Heights and get warm” the other replies.

    Another advantage to a nice tall, very tall, iron fence.

  • Fences make great neighbors-especially when the police won’t/ can’t do their job of patrolling…

  • Another option is to install a video surveillance camera system. You can get them cheap at Harbor Freight Tools. The current ad has one for $39.99 that is color, single cable, 360 degree swivel, weatherproof and night vision. Just hook it up to an old vcr or computer with a dvd burner setup. Personally, I have two shepherds and wrought iron fencing. There are 3 Harbor Freight Tools stores in the Houston area, one at 45 & West Rd, another at 290 & Jones, and another in Pasadena.

  • I moved into a Heights bungalow in 2001. Less than a week after I moved in I came home from work to find the back door kicked in and all electronics and jewelry missing. So I fenced my entire yard: front, back and sides.

    Then they shifted their focus to my garden shed. After it was burgled twice I installed the largest security light I could find to shine down on the shed and a decoy security camera that looks just like the real thing. Then they burgled it again. My gates remained locked so I can say with certainty that they passed both mowers over my 7-foot-4 wood picket fence. My shed was raided about once per year for the first 5 years I’ve lived there. I’ve given up and no longer keep anything of value in there.

    I used to take my dirty shoes off on my front porch after cutting the lawn, but after 2 pairs disappeared I decided to do an experiment. I just assumed because they were old and stinky that a stray dog was probably taking them. I put my wife’s new tennis shoes right next to my dirty ones on the porch, went to bed, woke up, and mine were gone but hers were still there. I’ve concluded that a bum with my size feet is taking them.

    My favorite Heights crime story involves the theft of my bagged leaves from the edge of the street. I was raking my back yard and taking the bagged leaves to the street one at a time. Every time I returned to the street with a new bag, the last one was already gone! So I put another one out, opened a beer on my porch and waited. A bum pushing a Home Depot shopping cart walked up and grabbed it, untied it, walked one house down and emptied my leaves into my neighbor’s can, folded up my bag and walked on. I guess he needed it for cans or he was building a tent. Either way:

    “You can’t own anything nice if you live inside the loop (or Heights)!!!!”

  • Check the crime statistics & maps available from, it’s very useful information. Their maps are derived from the official city police department stats (

    A quick look tells you that the greater Heights area had 4,185 burglaries through the end of July, which is twice as many burglaries as Montrose, which in turn had twice as many as Meyerland. Alief takes the cake, literally, with twice as many as the Heights.

    By the way, the burglary rate for Houston is four times higher than New York City…

  • Moved out of the Heights and this was one of the main reasons. We had an 8 ft. fence and gate around the house starting at the front of the house (not front yard). Here are the different crimes that happened:

    1) Bikes stolen out of garage while mowing yard.

    2) Wife left car outside gate one night and a pumpkin was thrown into it.

    3) All lawn equipment stolen from locked shed behind garage. You could tell by the mud tracks that they lifted it up and over the fence.

    4) All tools stolen from garage. No idea when this happened, just noticed when I needed to use them.

    5) Car broken into inside of gate.

  • What is it about the pumpkins? Some sort of gang ritual? I hope I never get mugged in The Heights. I would not be able to keep a straight face when I told the cops the mugger knocked me out with a pumpkin. Maybe they should ban pumpkins in The Heights.

    The Heights was never my favorite place although I sold there from time to time. If ever there was a neighborhood in desperate need of zoning, The Heights was it. Although I guess to some it’s nice to have the auto repair shop, the florist, and the hair salon just a few steps away.

  • We lived in Montrose for 8 years and had a couple of bikes stolen (which was to be expected) and my young sons toy bulldozers (not expected). It broke my heart that people would hop an iron fence to steal a child’s toy – while I would hope that the person who took it needed it more than my kids did, I suspect it was a patron of Griffs who imbibed a bit too much on St. Patrick’s Day.

  • Last I lived inside the loop was 17 years ago in Midtown…before it was chic. I lived behind an 8 foot chainlink fence topped with razor wire. My friends called it “the compound” but I never ever had a problem.

  • I’ve worked in midtown for the last 5 years. The homeless people there are like no others and remind me of zombies. I don’t think an 8-foot fence w/ constantine wire would protect you these days. I bet they’d gnaw through it.

  • How does a camera prevent crime? Given all the robber video on TV news, it seems to prevent nothing. A big fence will help, but that leads to a neighborhood where everyone lives in a one-house gated community. I am sure opening up alleys in the Heights made things much easier for criminals. I simply don’t leave out anything it would break my heart to loose and consider the occasional wicker chair the price for urban living.

    And if you think the police are really there to prevent porch theft, you’re dreamin. HPD cannot fill their vacancies due to better pay and/or less danger in the 100+ other law enforcment agencies in the area. I don’t see how that problem can be fixed w/o a huge pay hike which means a huge tax hike.

  • Our porch furniture is secured with bike cables, but we leave things like my sons’ red wagon on the porch and nothing has ever been touched. I thank my nosey neighbors who come and go at all hours of the day and night for this.

  • NOSY NEIGHBORS are the best. Really. They know whether ‘this vehicle’ or ‘that pedestrian’ is legit.
    The trick is to have the entire street EQUALLY up-in-each-others’-business! That’s how it was in the old days.
    Ergo: the best place to live is a mixed neighborhood with folks in all life-stages.

    Sure they know your stuff, but, you don’t have to live behind fortifications.

  • I bought a bungalow in Montrose 8 years ago and have had only one problem. The 6 -8′ pyracantha hedge around the property definitely has something to do with that. It’s living barbed wire.

  • I’ve lived in the Heights for 4 years, and before that lived ten years in Montrose. The only theft I ever experienced in Montrose was a planter. Here in the Heights the only theft was a garden hose, stolen by my douchebag neighbor.

    I’m moving to the East End soon and am a little concerned- my friend there say that they can’t leave anything at all in their yards, not even the backyard, or it disappears.

  • I’ve lived inthe East End for almost 2 years and have never had anything taken from my house, my porch, my garage or my yard. (knockonwood) Before that I lived in the Gulfgate area and never had any problems.

    Maybe my stuff just isn’t nice enough.

  • I bought a bungalow in Montrose 8 years ago and have had only one problem. The 6 -8′ pyracantha hedge around the property definitely has something to do with that. It’s living barbed wire.

    Bougainvillea works well also.

  • My friend lives in a small Montrose (Audobon Place) apartment complex. He had a pair of pants and a sweatshirt stolen out of the dryer. He called the police AND THEY CAME OUT! For a pair of pants! I didn’t think they came out anymore even for a car break-in. Even more unbelievable is the police actually caught a homeless guy wearing my friends clothes about 20 minutes later and brought him back and made him take the clothes off and give them back.

  • I live in the Heights – our “Welcome to Houston” moment happened 3 days after we moved in, when someone broke the back slider window out of our Ford Ranger, apparently thinking that the boxes full of old geology scientific articles were worth someting. I know, totally our fault for leaving them in there.

    Since then I’ve lost a bike from the garage and our tenant had her car stolen off the street (car was later recovered). The across-the-street retired couple had someone enter their house, steal a wallet, and take off all while they were chatting with friends in the front yard (!).

    The one theft that really burns me, though, was when someone took my potted geraniums off the front porch. I loved the pots, they were perfect for the house. I guess someone’s mom got a nice Mother’s day gift out of it. But why did they have to take my nice flower pots???? The next set gets glued to the porch railing.