Thieves are finding easy pickings in Clayton Heights, where there has been a rash of burglaries from homes, cars and garages.
In many cases, the culprits aren’t even having to force their way in.
Police have seen an increase over the past several weeks, with a few incidents taking place each night on the Surrey and Langley side of 196 Street in the Clayton Heights area.
Last week, Surrey RCMP’s District 4 started hand-delivering a community alert, warning residents about the burglaries, and asking them to be extra vigilant.
Staff Sgt. Martin Blais of the Cloverdale/Port Kells district office said many residents are leaving garage doors unlocked, allowing easy access to vehicles and other valuables inside their garage and homes.
“They are stealing everything they can find in the vehicle and the garages, including vehicles if the keys have been left in,” he said.
Cheques and remote garage door openers have also been stolen, Blais added. “People need to remove them from vehicles left outside.”
Even more concerning is the fact that many of the crimes are taking place while residents are at home, compelling police to urge the public step up anti-theft measures and to change their habits.
Residents often forget to lock their garage doors – and the interior doors leading to the rest of the town home or carriage house, providing thieves free rein.
Burglars have been loading up on food, especially frozen meat, tools and sports equipment, according to Community Safety Officer Dennis Bell, who’s been doing follow-up with residents who have been hit.
The thefts are mostly occurring between 10 p.m. and 6 p.m. in the area bordered by 64 and 74 Avenues, between 188 and 196 Streets in Surrey, as well as in Langley.
[Community Safety Officer Dennis Bell, left, shows how to use the ‘lock’ button on a typical garage door keypad – Jennifer Lang photo]
He says thieves are casing alleyways in the high-density rural enclave, where homes are close together and often have residents in carriage homes and various rental suites sharing one address.
Thieves will drive around trying garage door openers, hoping to find one that will open, says Bell, who points out the sound of a garage door opening in the middle of the night won’t necessarily be met with suspicion in homes with multiple tenants.
He suggests residents keep their garage door openers with them, or locked in the glove box, out of sight of preying thieves.
On a ride-along Monday morning, Bell stops outside an open garage in an alley lined with closed garage doors, hops out of the car, and knocks on the back door of the home.
A man cradling his infant son comes outside, and returns to the alley with Bell to inspect the open garage door – which was a surprise. It hadn’t been left that way.
He tells Bell this seems to happen about once a month but he didn’t know why it kept happening.
Bell showed him how to lock the garage door by pressing the ‘lock’ button on the control panel, a simple but effective step.
The interior garage door should also be locked at all times, he adds.
The Clayton Heights community alert contains a list of steps residents can take to prevent home burglaries and reduce the likelihood their home will be targeted.
For more information, visit the Surrey RCMP’s website at www.surrey.rcmp.ca, or visit the office at 5732 176A Street.
Report any suspicious activity or people in your neighbourhood by calling the Surrey RCMP’s non-emergency number at 604-599-0502.