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Night RaidersBurglary and the Making of Modern Urban Life in London, 1860-1968$
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Eloise Moss

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198840381

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198840381.001.0001

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Designing the Burglar-Proof Home

Designing the Burglar-Proof Home

(p.132) 6 Designing the Burglar-Proof Home
Night Raiders

Eloise Moss

Oxford University Press

Chapter 6 takes a closer look at the relationship between crime, gender, and the home through analysing the security devices that began populating middle-class houses from the mid-nineteenth century. Designed to be impenetrable and invisible to the wandering eye of the thief, locks and safes were increasingly decorated with particular rooms in mind, especially feminized, sexualized spaces such as the boudoir and the bedroom. The chapter analyses how this reflected the heightened publicity accorded burglaries of women’s jewellery, possessions which held their own gendered, emotional significance as tokens of love and familial bonds. Crime prevention began to reshape domestic space in this era, whether via locks and safe doors hidden beneath gloriously elaborate carvings and intricate metalwork or taking the form of burglar alarms with sensors fitted snugly between carpets, walls, and window-ledges, trailing pressure-points like a net around the home’s perimeter. While existing scholarship on the history of domestic space has thus far treated decoration and security separately, this chapter considers how the design and placement of anti-burglar devices crafted an interplay between boundaries and furnishings that maintained the facade of carefree residential harmony.

Keywords:   security technologies, burglar alarm, safes, locks, interior design, boudoir, invisibility

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