Burglars using unlocked or unsecured garages to enter homes is the latest crime trend affecting several Twin Cities suburbs.
The Hennepin County Sheriff's Office issued a warning to residents in Eden Prairie, Maple Grove, Minnetonka, Edina, St. Louis Park, Bloomington and neighboring communities to be on their guard following dozens of home burglaries across the county.
The sheriff's office analyzed a recent spike in burglaries and found that many of the break-ins have involved access through attached garages.
Police say burglars are carrying out the thefts in the following ways:
- Removing garage door openers from vehicles parked in driveways (unlocked vehicles and locked vehicles) or opening garage doors using a vehicle’s built-in home-link transmitter
- Entering a garage though an already open garage door
- Kicking in an exterior garage service door
Once these burglars get in through the garage, they then enter the home through the garage access door, which will often be unlocked.
These thefts are being reported at all times of the day and night, when homeowners are either at home or out. Once inside, the burglars target "small, yet highly valuable items such as cash, wallets, purses and jewelry."
Some victims didn't realize at first they had been burgled because of the lack of evidence there'd been a forced entry.
The sheriff's office has the following tips for homeowners:
- Always lock your vehicles when parked in a driveway or garage
- Protect your vehicles with an anti-theft device if not already equipped with one
- Secure your garage door openers in your house when possible
- Do not leave your garage door openers visible in your vehicles
- Close your garage doors when not home or when the garage is not in plain view
- Lock exterior service doors to garages – reinforce service doors with security bars or deadbolts if possible
- Lock interior access doors that lead into houses – reinforce access doors with deadbolts if possible
- Lock home entry doors when you are not home