Local News

Tuesday, Jun 25 2013 05:03 PM

Authorities warn of thefts from open garages

BY JASON KOTOWSKI Californian staff writer jkotowski@bakersfield.com

An open garage door is practically an invitation to thieves to take your belongings, and now that the weather's warmer and barbecues and other outdoor activities are going on police have noticed an uptick in burglaries from garages that have been left open.

"Open garage burglaries are fast," Bakersfield Police spokeswoman Michaela Beard said. "Someone can get in there quickly and if the vehicle is unlocked someone can take your purse and then you have identity theft as well."

These burglaries can be carried out within a couple of minutes. Thieves look for power tools, bikes and other items that can be carried away and sold.

Beard said she didn't have statistics on just how many of these burglaries have occurred, but detectives have seen a seasonal increase in the last 30 days in reports of open garage burglaries. There have been no arrests of anyone specifically for those crimes.

The best way to prevent this crime is to always keep your garage door shut and keep items of value out of plain view, Beard said. Installing motion sensor lights near the garage door can also help.

Kern County Sheriff's spokesman Ray Pruitt said there has been a significant increase in the past year and a half in reported thefts from homes, garages and vehicles. Statistics were not immediately available Tuesday.

Sheriff's Crime Prevention Specialist Ashley Glover said criminals for the most part are just looking for an easy opportunity. An open garage gives them one.

She said criminals will drive through neighborhoods and, if they see an open garage door, run inside and grab what they want. Then they're off to the next target in no time.

"Just leave them down," Glover said of garage doors.

She also suggested people make their homes look lived in, which will make a thief think twice before coming onto the property. Some tips are to leave a radio or TV on, don't let newspapers pile up at the front door and have lights on timers for when you're out of town.

Anyone interested in starting a Neighborhood Watch can call the Bakersfield Police Department Crime Prevention Unit at 326-3024 or the sheriff's office's Crime Prevention Unit at 392-6902.

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