FOX13 Investigates: Home burglar bars

by: Jim Spiewak Updated:

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MEMPHIS, TN - The FOX13 investigators are digging deeper into what local agencies, state agencies, even federal mortgage insurers are doing about homes with window security bars. 

This comes on a day the family of the tragic Severson Avenue fire is honored in Memphis.  Ten people died in that house fire last September, including seven children. 


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The federal government has an agency a part of HUD called the Federal Housing Authority, known as FHA. 

They insure loans and they’re popular.  One quarter of loans issued in Memphis, last year, were FHA backed. 

Vice President of Brighton Bank Rosemarie Fair said, “it affords them more opportunities for first time homebuyers to buy a house.” 

Fair said FHA backed loans are capped at $274,000, but many are well below that amount.  FHA guidelines show inspectors must notify the lender if security bars are found only on bedroom windows. 

“FHA takes the position that the security bars on houses are not necessarily for security reasons, FHA is looking for the safety of their borrowers,” said Fair. 

Tennessee law has no requirement for safety latches.  Tennessee Fire Marshal code said security bars should be releasable from the inside without the use of a key or tool. 

Several months ago, Memphis Mayor, Jim Strickland, was asked if the city would address the safety issue over window bars? 

He said at the time, “We cannot require it for older houses but we certainly can encourage homeowners to do that. The financial cost of it, again, finances are tight at city hall, but we’re looking at that issue.” 

The mayor’s office sent FOX13 a statement Thursday when asked what progress has been made since then?  The statement reads, “As previously stated, the mayor said he would open to partnering with a (non-profit) if one approached us.”