CARY — Thieves in Cary have seen open garages and unlocked car doors as an invitation to steal sports and recreation equipment, jewelry and even cases of Budweiser, town officials say.
Police have reported a spike in nonforced, illegal entries into homes and cars since 2005, when 31 percent of all Cary burglaries were accomplished by nonforced entry. That number rose to 41 percent last year. So far this year, there have been 27 cases of illegal entry into a home or car through an unlocked or open door, police say.
Cary police are urging residents to be alert.
"While Cary remains a very, very safe community, it's important that our sense of safety not lead us to do unsafe things such as leaving doors open and unlocked," Cary Police Chief Scott Cunningham said in a statement.
Cary police Capt. Dave Wulff said the increase might be due in part to the town's growth. The town's reputation as one of the safest places in the country is a "double-edged sword" that lulls residents, new and otherwise, into "a false sense of security," he said.
"It's one of our biggest issues," Wulff said.
Elise Speaks said her husband Jonathan did not give much thought to a group of unfamiliar people hanging out on a street corner near their home on Goldenthal Court earlier this summer. The couple later learned that someone had taken a pair of $300 prescription sunglasses from a neighbor's unlocked car.
"I found out later there was a spree," Speaks said. "I talked with several people in the neighborhood who either had stuff taken out of their car or their garage."
Cary is among several Wake County towns trying to prevent the thefts.
Jim Sughrue, a Raleigh police spokesman, said he does not know whether the city has seen a rise in nonforced entry burglaries. But it is an all-too- common problem, he said.
"It's something our crime prevention officers really stress with folks," he said. "Very often, an open garage door allows someone to gain entry into the house."
Garner police Sgt. Joe Binns also said that of the 14 burglary cases reported this month, more than half involved vehicles entered through unlocked doors.
"It's sporadic," Binns said. "Typically what happens is some people go to a neighborhood and go through all of the unlocked cars taking anything of value."
Staff writer Thomasi McDonald can be reached at 829-4533 or thomasi.mcdonald @newsobserver.com.