Lori Fullbright, News On 6
TULSA, Oklahoma -- Do you know what to do when a stranger knocks on your door?
News On 6 crime reporter Lori Fullbright did a hidden camera investigation to test people's safety awareness.
She asked an undercover police officer to knock on doors with a story about being a city inspector needing to check people's water heaters.
No uniform, no city truck, no city ID.
Tulsa Police Sex Crimes Detective Rod Russo and myself put people to the test. We wanted to see if people would not just open their door to a stranger but let him inside. And they did; men, women, young and old.
Rod: "I'm Rod with the city, there's a new water heater ordinance that requires it to be four inches off the ground. I need to make sure you're in compliance."
Lorin: "Okay, let me go open the garage, I think, yes, it's in the garage."
Rod: "Ma'am, can I step in so the dog doesn't get out."
Rod: "Real quick, ma'am, I'm Rod Russo with Tulsa Police Department."
Rod explains to Lorin she's just been a part of our effort to test people's safety awareness. She says she always keeps her door locked and her original intent was just to let him in the garage, not the house and only did because her boyfriend was asleep inside.
"When he asked to be inside, I was a little uncomfortable but thought, well, my boyfriend's home. I'm not home alone," Lorin said.
Rod moves through the neighborhood, knocking on doors. He finds an open one with a man inside working. At first, the man goes to check the water heater himself, with the door unlocked.
Rod: "May I come in for a second."
Rod: "Actually, I'm Detective Russo with TPD and we're doing a story to see why you opened your door for a stranger."
He doesn't want his face shown and at first says, he thinks he can handle himself, but, the more we talk, the more he becomes aware, he could've just let a criminal walk right in the front door.
"Well, it sounded legit, he had a pad with him. I feel kind of silly now," Charles said.
Better to feel silly now than to be a victim later.
Rod had walked away from a nearby home when no one answered, but then the homeowner came outside, getting ready to leave.
Rod: "Take second seconds, I promise."
Jasmine; "What do I need to do?"
Rod: "It's usually in the kitchen. How are you today?
Jasmine: "Great, What's your name?
Rod: "Rod, with the City."
Rod;"What's your name? I'm actually Rod with Tulsa police and we're doing a safety program."
Jasmine says she took his story at face value and never asked for ID or wondered why he didn't' have a city shirt or vehicle.
Lori: "So, once you get inside with a strange man, you don't know, do you feel weird?"
Jasmine: "Yeah, I did at first, I carry my keys, I don't know."
Lori: "You thought you were going to take him down with a key?
Jasmine: "Yeah, laughs. I don't know. That's definitely my bad. I shouldn't have just let someone in my house."
Person after person opened the door to Rod and let him inside. Why? They told me they don't think something bad will happen to them, they thought he looked like a nice person and they are trusting by nature. Those are exactly the attitudes criminals count on.
Rod: "Hi, I'm rod with the city, do you know where your water heater is?"
Lady: "Yeah, where's your car and everything?"
Rod: "I'm really a Tulsa police officer."
Barbara has lived in this neighborhood 47 years and says she doesn't think about crime. She admits she normally opens her door to strangers and thought nothing of coming outside with a man she'd never met.
Rod: "In the future, always ask for ID If something seems suspicious, it usually is."
Lori: "And, don't come outside with him."
Lori: "Because you were vulnerable."
Officer Russo was shocked how many people let him in and turned their back on him. Always keep both doors locked and talk through them.
Don't open it and or let anyone inside you haven't called and even then, check their ID, call their supervisor to confirm and have someone with you.