Crime is contagious! What you can do about it.

In a  famous experiment conducted twenty-seven years ago by Stanford University
psychologist Philip  Zimbardo, a car was parked on a street in Palo Alto, where it
sat untouched for a week. At the same time, he had an identical car parked in a roughly comparable neighborhood in the Bronx, only in this case the license plates were removed and the hood was propped open. Within one day, it was stripped. Then, in a final twist, Zimbardo smashed one of the Palo Alto car’s windows with a sledgehammer. That car, too, was destroyed within just a few hours. (Zimbardo’s point was that disorder invites even more disorder-that a small deviation from the norm can set into motion a cascade of vandalism and criminality. The broken window was the tipping point.)

– The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell (National Bestseller)


If a window is broken and left unrepaired, people walking by will conclude that no one cares and no one is in charge. Soon, more windows will be broken, and it will  signal that anything goes.

Muggers and robbers believe that members of a rundown neighborhood are less likely to call the police to identify a potential mugger or to interfere if a mugging actually takes place.  In an area where potential victims don’t care about the appearance of the neighborhood a robber feels that they have less  chance of being caught or even identified.

Broken or boarded up windows, graffiti,  high grass, street lights busted, neighborhood children tearing up things–these are all invitations to more serious crimes.


The broken-window hypothesis inspired the successful cleanup of the New York City Transit Authority subway system starting in the late eighties. Graffiti was cleaned immediately and turnstile jumpers were arrested. Felonies fell more than fifty per cent.

Graffiti and turnstile jumpers may have at first appeared to be “trivial” problems but they were found to be the tipping points – the “broken windows” -that invited far more serious crimes.

NOTE: Then chief of the Transit Police, William Bratton, who was later to take his ideas about preventing crime to the city as a whole became head of the New York Police Department.

In the Seven-Five, they have made a series of what seem, when measured against the extraordinary decline in murders, to be small changes.


You must take control of your neighborhood and hold everyone accountable, if you are serious about crime.

Sometimes the most modest of changes can bring about enormous effects.

Are there any broken or boarded up  windows in your neighborhood? This should be a top priority if you wish to lower the criminal activity. (Glass broken on a side door to the garage? If you must “board it” up then paint it to match the door exactly so it blends and looks like it is part of the door.)

Getting  Serious About Crime:

  • Use security lights. Security lights don’t stay on all the time….A motion from someone walking up to your bedroom window kicks it on, illuminating their actions and making them  think that they have been spotted.
  • Streetlight out? Contact PSO
Tulsa’s residential-use codes were passed to preserve property values and to guard the health of residents and the safety of residential property. Title 24, Chapter 1, Section 101 covers “Nuisances Affecting Health”.
Enforcement. The city agency to report such violations to is the Department of Public Works Neighborhood Inspections Section 596-7698 or to the Mayor’s Action Center (596-2100)

  • Trash cans at curb. Paragraph 16 prohibits: Garbage cans or any trash containers which are not fly-tight or are kept or stored within 12 feet of a curb, or edge of paving where there is no curb, in excess of 24 hours.
  • Yard maintenance. Also prohibited are weeds and other rank growths on private property or adjoining parking, including poison sumac, or vegetation taller than 12 inches, except healthy trees, shrubs, or produce for human consumption grown in a tended and cultivated garden. Report mowing violations to Mayor’s Action Center (596-2100)
  • Trees and shrubs. It is illegal for their density or location to block motorists’ view around street corners or to create a fire hazard or interfere with the mowing of weeds and grass; to harbor, conceal, or invite deposits of refuse or trash; to harbor rodents or vermin; or if they give off unpleasant or noxious odors; or if they are dead or diseased.
  • Trash, junk and debris. Such items may not be left in the yard and must be disposed of, including auto parts, appliances, indoor furniture, tires, trash, tree trimmings, etc
  • Inoperable vehicles. These must be stored within enclosed structures, unless they appear to be operable and capable of being legally operated. Expired tags don’t count but flat tires and missing parts do. They can’t be used for storage or parked in the yard, street or driveway.
  • Parking. Vehicles may not be left parked in the same spot on the street longer than 24 hours. Call the Mayor’s Action Center (596-2100) to report same. Police will “red-tag” the vehicle, marking it for tow unless it is moved in 24 hours. No vehicle can be parked in the yard at any time, and no commercial equipment–semi trucks, dump trucks, wreckers–may be parked in residential neighborhoods.
  • Outdoor storage. Only things normally stored outdoors may be kept outdoors– firewood, grills, lawn furniture, hoses, play equipment for children and lawnmowers.
  • Illegal fences. Front yard fences may not exceed 4 feet and backyard or side-yard fences may not exceed 8 feet in height. Most neighborhoods have restrictive covenants limiting backyard fence height to 6 feet.
  • Animals  running loose The City of Tulsa has a current animal ordinance and requires adherence to the leash law.  The Tulsa Animal Shelter at 669-6299 handles complaints  and will pick up stray or injured animals. . The shelter staff will help you to work with neighbors on “pet” problems. Please refer to the Tulsa Animal Shelter website for more information:
  • NOISE ORDINANCES-Tulsa’s noise ordinance declares as nuisances “all loud or unusual noises and annoying vibrations which offend the peace and quiet of persons of ordinary sensibilities.” — Tulsa City Ordinances, Title 24, Chapter 1, Section 103 part F
  • Mufflers- “Every motor vehicle shall at all times be equipped with a muffler in good working order . . . to prevent excessive or unusual noise and annoying smoke, and no person shall use a muffler cut-out, bypass or similar device upon a motor vehicle on any street or highway. No person shall modify the exhaust system of a motor vehicle in any manner which will amplify or increase the noise or sound emitted louder than that emitted by the muffler originally installed on the vehicle.” — Tulsa City Ordinances, Title 37, Chapter 7, section 721
The restrictive covenants (which are part of your abstract) in our association require that all new modifications to the exterior of homes and property, i.e. roofs, fences, additions, etc., be approved by the committee of the board of directors. If you are planning any new changes to the exterior of your home or property, please contact any director.
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