In a period of six days this month, reports of 13 vehicle burglaries and 11 residential burglaries were reported to Sparks PD. Of the 13 vehicle burglaries, the standard procedure in eight cases showed no sign of forced entry, one showed an open window and one showed an unlocked vehicle. Sgt. Scott Tracy said this is a common problem for Sparks residents who fail to understand the mind of a local thief.
“At least 50 or 60 percent of the burglaries in the last week (referring to July 22 through July 28) could have been prevented by people locking their doors or not leaving their stuff in plain view,” Tracy said Wednesday afternoon. “The most common form of burglary right now is teenagers or people in their 20s walking through neighborhoods checking the doors of cars.
“If you lock the doors, that is one deterrent. If they look in there and there is nothing inside that is another deterrent. They keep walking and try another one. We could stop at least 50 percent of our burglaries if people would lock their stuff up.”
Tracy said an analysis of trending vehicle burglaries has helped the CSU identify common items being stolen throughout the city. Those include stereos, iPods, tablets, laptops, backpacks, accessory chargers and loose change. While statistics show some forced entry and breaking of windows, Tracy said those instances would likely not occur if items inside the car remained hidden. In a span ranging from June 1 to July 16, 30 vehicle burglaries or attempts were due to unlocked doors or no forced entry.
The same span proved worse for residential burglaries or attempts with unforced entry, which totaled 32, and targeted items such as computers, printers, gaming consoles, jewelry, cash, cameras and pets. Tracy said residential burglaries do not differ much from vehicle burglaries in the sense that an unlocked door is a “opportunity window” for a crook.
“Probably 50 percent of our residential burglaries are people going through the back gate, finding a window that has been propped open for cooling, prying open the screen and going in,” Tracy said. “They can also try the front door, ring the doorbell or knock and if someone answers they ask ‘Does John live here?’ Then they move on to another house. If no one answers they can walk around the back and look for anything open.
“Honestly, people don’t know their neighbors anymore so usually the residential ones we get a good lead on it is because of neighbors who say ‘There is not supposed to be anybody in that house,’ and they call the police right away.”
Tracy added that the burglary problem is not specific to any one area of Sparks and can happen to anyone who mindlessly leaves their car or house open or leaves items inside that are easily visible.
“Every beat area we cover has a burglary of some kind every week. It’s everywhere,” Tracy said. “Unfortunately, we live in a time where it doesn’t matter where you live, a burglar will know where you live. They are not going to go to the bad part of town to steal things because there is nothing to steal.
“Places where people are coming and going are prime targets, as are gated communities. That’s what these people do while you are at work every day. That is their job and how they get money.”
Tracy said vehicle burglaries will stay constant throughout the year in analyzed statistics, but Grand Theft Auto will boost as winter comes due to people leaving cars unlocked in their driveway while warming up. Residential burglaries will likely go down once school resumes and vacations end, according to Tracy. He offered the following tops for decreasing risk of vehicle or residential burglaries:
•Hide any items left in an unattended car or home
•Lock all doors; including garage, dog and man doors connecting to house
•Close all windows and place a stopper in tracks of sliding doors/windows
•Chain and lock items left in truck beds or outdoor trailers
•Know your neighbors and neighborhood vehicles in case of suspicious activity
•Store all guns in a hidden, locked safe
•Register or record serial numbers in case an item is stolen and pawned