Not too long ago, Carolina Astorga, an Alberta Avenue resident, woke up at 10 am after returning from a vacation and noticed the side door of her garage was open. She thought her husband had left it open after leaving for work that morning, but instead discovered thieves had forced their way through the locked door.

At first, she thought only a bike was missing, but later realized thieves had also stolen a battery, a tent, and jump cables.

“They could have taken more, but I think they were in a hurry,” said Astorga. “I’m pretty sure they were waiting for my husband to go to work.”  

It’s the second time in the last five or six years someone has broken into the garage, but the first time the garage wasn’t locked. This time, it was.

“This time is worse because they just forced their way in.”

Constable Amanda Trenchard, with Edmonton Police Service’s (EPS’) crime prevention unit, said the inner city isn’t the only area to be hit with this crime.

“A few weeks ago, the south side had a string of them,” Trenchard said. “People were taking the garage door openers from the car to use to break into the garage.”

Thieves typically break into the side door of a garage. They look for unlocked doors, old garage doors, and poor lighting. While some break-ins are planned, other times they’re not. Additionally, thieves tend to steal items that are easy to carry and to pawn, like tools.

Being more diligent in locking doors and establishing extra security can help prevent break-ins. | Pixabay

Daytime is a popular time for theft to take place.

“In daytime, neighbourhoods are empty when people go to work,” Trenchard explained. “You lose what’s called ‘eyes on the street.’”

Trenchard suggested increasing security by installing a deadbolt at least an inch long to a garage door and using three-inch screws in the side plate. Mount motion-sensor lights on the garage, but ensure the lights are high enough so thieves can’t tamper with them. Also consider the sight lines, which is how easy it is to see the garage door.

“Instead of installing a wooden gate, you can put up a wrought-iron gate—it opens sight lines up,” she suggested.

Edmonton Police Services also suggested recording the make, model, and serial numbers of expensive items, locking doors while working outside, putting away items, closing garage doors, and covering windows. If a garage is attached to your house, lock the interior garage door. Once thieves are in your garage, they can break into your home.

“If it’s not easy to access, if it takes more time, they may just move on,” Trenchard said.

Trenchard emphasized the importance of knowing your neighbours.

“I can put all the security measures in place, but the sense of community must go together. We need the community to watch out for one another. Let your neighbours know when you’re away.”

If you see someone who appears to be scoping out the area, be cautious.

“If you feel comfortable and they don’t look like a threat, ask a casual, non-confrontational question,” said Trenchard. For example, ask if they’re lost or looking for an address. “Sometimes a simple or general question can deter people away.”

If you witness a theft, Trenchard said, “be a good witness. Take in a lot, call police.”

If it’s safe to do so (such as if you’re in a car), take a picture or record the theft. But, she urged, “Don’t put yourself at risk. In the end, we can replace things, not a person.”

Featured Image: Residential break-ins tend to take place during the day, while business break-ins more typically take place at night. | Pixabay