The world war times were periods of paradox.
It was 1942 and the height of world war 2. The British said they would defend Madras at any cost. And the people believed them. But when nearby Colombo , Vizag and Kakinada were bombed mercilessly by the Japanese
Fear entrenched itself in the minds of the Madrasis.
It was a matter of time before the bombers came for them and their blackouts, trenches or air raid sirens would not help.
They decided to move out of madras.
Around half the population of madras moved out in anything they could get on to.
There were special highways earmarked for bullock carts. And they took the valuables that they could carry.
And to lock the house was mandatory.
And that were the problem came in. there were just not enough locks to secure all the empty houses. During the late thirties there were about fifty lock making units in Dindugal area. And they just could not make enough with the scarcity of metal and spares too.
And the non availability of locks delayed the departure of many in Madras who got more nervous every moment. No wonder the price of locks went sky high and So there rose a new breed of brigands who specialized in stealing locks. And most of them went in search of other locked homes without caring to enter the houses which lay undefended.
The police arrested as many as 20 lock stealers to stem this tide. But still, when the war scare was over and the tide had turned in favor of the British many of them who returned found their house locks missing.