SACRAMENTO - Sacramento police are cautioning residents in several neighborhoods about a sudden spike in residential burglaries.
"(Burglars are) targeting people that are maybe going to work or going to school, leaving their home empty and taking advantage of those vacant houses," Sacramento police Sgt. Doug Morse said.
In the last week, daytime residential burglaries have happened in south Land Park, Tahoe Park and in the Greenhaven and Pocket areas.
Most of the burglaries happened between 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Police believe the burglars are casing homes and waiting for residents to leave, before forcing entry through doors or windows.
A recent victim, who wanted to be known as "Emily," said she went outside when she heard a garage door open.
"And I went to check mine and my bicycle was gone, which means they had to come all the way up the driveway into the back yard when I was home," she said. "I don't want to be paranoid, but it really is starting to feel that way."
Residents began getting robocalls from police on Wednesday, urging them to use extra caution.
"That we needed to be vigilant about our homes during the day," said Julie Lautsch, who lives just down the street from Emily. "It's very frightening and very scary."
Lautsch was burglarized in broad daylight a year and a half ago, but said her block has formed a Neighborhood Watch program that's made a big difference in deterring criminals.
"We immediately will phone the police if something is suspicious and contact each other to keep an eye out," Lautsch said.
Patrols have beefed up in the areas of the burglaries.
"We're going to be watching and the neighbors are going to be watching," Morse said.
Police are recommending residents do the following:
- Install an alarm system and utilize security decals as visual deterrents. Burglars often seek out homes that do not appear to have alarm systems installed.
- Use adequate exterior lighting. Avoid lighting that creates blind spots and ensure potential problem areas are well lit.
- Trim trees and shrubs to prevent hiding places for intruders.
- Use locking gates between front and rear yards.
- Lock doors and windows when you leave the house even if it's only for a short period of time.
- Keep your garage doors shut and locked.
- Do not use "hide-a-keys," burglars often know where to find them.
- Be an engaged neighbor. If you notice something suspicious, report it to the police.
- Utilize social media to stay connected with the police department and the rest of your community. You will gain valuable information and updates. Social media sources include Nextdoor.com, Twitter, Facebook and Periscope.
- Attend neighborhood watch meetings in your community and meet district officers assigned to your neighborhood.