Albany has seen a spike in burglaries and car prowls over the last month, and about half of the crimes have been easily preventable, according to department data.
Residents can take a few simple steps to help stop the problem, such as locking doors, closing windows and keeping a porch light on at night, said Sandy Roberts, Albany Police Department community education specialist.
“It’s about homeowners being proactive about their safety. ... It all comes down to eliminating opportunities,” she said.
On Wednesday, the department was being proactive, as well, going out door to door in two neighborhoods that have been hit by thieves in September.
Roberts said that door hangers were left on residences on Calapooia Street Southwest between 11th and 14th avenues and in the area of Valley View Drive in North Albany.
In August, Albany had 11 burglaries reported, while in September, there were 18, Roberts said.
Thefts from vehicles surged from 12 in August to 26 in September.
Roberts thought a change in the seasons should result in a drop of those crimes.
“There’s going to be a reduction in windows left open and sliding doors left open,” she added.
Roberts noted, however, that the increase in burglaries and car prowls came despite the wettest September on record in the mid-Willamette Valley.
“It does seem odd,” she said.
Detective Sgt. Steve Dorn said the department wasn’t sure about the reason for the increase in burglaries and thefts from vehicles.
But he was certain that many of them could have been stopped with a bit of caution.
For example, in one car prowl, a woman reported that her purse, credit cards and identification were stolen from her car. It was unlocked.
Dorn encouraged residents to remove valuables from vehicles such as backpacks and especially firearms. But thieves will go after less valuable items, as well.
“You want nothing in the car. Don’t give them a reason,” Dorn said.
He also suggested that people take garage door openers with them, and not leave them in cars. If an garage door opener falls into a criminal’s hands, a theft from a vehicle can lead to a residential burglary.