Arkansas Woman Arrested Because Home Has Anti-Burglar Bars

National Center for Public Policy Research | July 7, 2008 | 8:21pm EDT
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(Editor's Note: The following is the 53rd of 100 stories regarding government regulation from the book Shattered Dreams, written by the National Center for Public Policy Research. will publish an additional story each day.)

Little Rock, Ark., resident Betty Deislinger's home has anti-burglar bars on the windows to protect her from criminals, but nothing could protect her from local authorities.

Her crime? Violating the sensibilities of the local historic preservation commission. The 70-year-old church choir director and organist was arrested and fingerprinted because she refused to remove the bars.

The McArthur Historic District of Little Rock has a crime problem. A failed liquor store robbery a few years back resulted in one of the robbers dying of gunshot wounds on a porch near Deislinger's house. At the time she bought her home, prostitutes were illegally using the abandoned structure for their business.

Deislinger was arrested while attending a meeting of the city's historic preservation commission. She was unaware that a neighbor of hers and commission administrator, Anne Guthrie, had filed a complaint that resulted in the issuance of an arrest warrant.

City attorney Tom Carpenter told the Dallas Morning News, "She was dealing with the commission, and we knew the warrant was there. It's not uncommon to arrest someone when you know they are present and have a warrant." He defended the commission's actions, saying: "You don't want a neon pink sign next to [a historic] mansion."

Deislinger's burglar bars were not neon pink, and she says they were already there when she purchased the house in 1998. She challenged: "And if I can find some more, I will put them up on the rest of the windows." Besides the bars, the commission was also opposed to Deislinger replacing the wooden window frames with vinyl ones and having an air conditioning unit that was visible from the street.

"I think this is power out of control," said Deislinger. "I'd rather have a house with bars on the windows next to me than a bunch of prostitutes living there."

Sources: Dallas Morning News, The Liberator Online

Copyright 2003, National Center for Public Policy Research

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