Thieves targeting open garage doors

POSTED: 08:42 PM CST Dec 03, 2013    UPDATED: 10:17 PM CST Dec 03, 2013 
Garage door burglaries
WICHITA, Kan. -

Wichita Police are warning people through social media to shut their garage doors. Garage burglaries started going up when the sun started going down sooner.

Most people, like John Haugh, keep valuables in their garage and thieves know that. "There are a lot of things in there that I wouldn't want to lose," said Haugh.

"With the time change, we're seeing a lot more people coming home when it's dark around 5:30, 6:00, and leaving their garage doors open. People, under the cover of darkness, are entering the garages and taking things from inside the garage," said Wichita Police Officer Lori Kimrey.

She says some people might get home at dusk, not thinking about the sun going down earlier, and leave their doors up. Kimrey says that can be an invitation for crooks. "People walk down the street like they're just residents in the neighborhood and they're entering the garage without anybody noticing," she said.

"It happens all the time, all over town," said Haugh. He says he only keeps his garage open when he is outside. The rest of the time, he does his best to protect his property. "It's just part of my routine of getting ready to go to bed is to go check all the locks on all the doors," said Haugh.

But Officer Kimrey says even when you think you shut your door, you might want to double check. "Sometimes a leaf will blow inside or something will trigger the motion sensor and raise the garage door back up," said Kimrey.

Haugh says a light went out on his street recently, so he is keeping extra lights on around the house. "If I was a burglar, I wouldn't want to come to the place where it's lit up and you can see everything," said Haugh.

Police agree, and say to also make sure you do not leave your garage door opener on the visor of a car parked out front. Kimrey says that is another way thieves are getting in.  "We have seen a couple of cases where people are breaking into the vehicles that are left parked outside that have the garage door opener left on the visor. People are obtaining those after breaking into the cars and entering the garage via the garage door opener," said Kimrey.

Police say not to let your guard down when you are home. They say thieves will strike with or without people there.

Officers also advise you get in the habit of locking the door that goes from your garage into your house, so if thieves get into the garage they will not have further access.