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"Crooks are looking for something relatively low-risk," Capitol Police Sgt. Ricky Tucker explained to the ABC11 I-Team. "If they're walking down the sidewalk and pulling car door handles or in residential areas walking up checking on door knobs. Folks who forget to look their doors - it makes it an easy target."
Indeed, cars and homes have proved to be popular targets for burglars this summer.
According to the website CrimeMapping.com, the Raleigh Police Department filed reports for at least 366 burglaries, 631 vehicle break-ins, 934 thefts and larcenies, and 97 since May 26, the Friday before Memorial Day Weekend.
Added together, RPD officers report an average of 32 personal property crimes every day.
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In Durham, police reported 143 burglaries, 200 vehicle break-ins, 184 thefts and larcenies, plus 49 robberies since May 26th. Together, that averages about 10 property crimes per day.
"A lot of people just think they're not going to be victims of this," Sgt. Tucker lamented. "I think that's the biggest problem with people."
A deeper look at the data also reveals the most popular times for these crimes to occur: Mondays and Tuesdays between 3:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m.
Sgt. Tucker, whose career in law enforcement spans nearly 40 years, says his warnings have never needed any updates; he implores homeowners to lock their doors - including the doors inside the garage - as well as develop a proactive mindset about making things harder for criminals.
"When you walk around your house, occasionally do a security check. If I was going to break into my house, how would I do it? What have I made simple? What can I correct to make it harder."
In addition to locking all doors and windows, Sgt. Tucker recommends the following to deter criminals and ensure the safety of your family and property:
- Fortifying doors and windows with longer screws, stronger hinges and reinforced siding. This will make it tougher to kick down a door or window.
- Change up the timers on lights so nothing in the house looks automatic. Tucker warns that criminals will do their own patrol and notice if things look rehearsed, giving the implication that no one is home.
- Limit personal posts on social media and strengthen privacy rules. People may think only friends see vacation plans, but if not careful there are friends of friends who may take advantage of the knowledge you're not home.
- Before leaving for vacation, hold mail and newspaper delivery; stacked mailboxes and piles of newspapers are easy giveaways that no one is home for an extended period of time. This also applies to trash collection - ask a neighbor to roll back your trash or recycling bin so it's not out for a long period of time.
- Get to know your neighbors and build a sense of communal responsibility. Security starts at home, but it extends to those around your family: communicate with those around you so they know when to expect guests, house work and other visitors, so that if something doesn't seem right, a neighbor can take the initiative to call police.