HOUSTON - With summer approaching and many people planning out-of-town trips, police are reminding residents to always safeguard their homes, apartments and vehicles.
The warning comes because burglaries and thefts are two of the most common crimes in Houston, Harris and the surrounding counties.
According to Houston Police Department records, more than 34,000 burglaries and more than 130,000 thefts were reported from January 2016 to November 2017. With numbers like these, it's not surprising HPD records show fewer than 10 percent of the cases get solved.
These reports include everything from stolen bicycles and phones to home break-ins.
While the records show no neighborhood or part of town is immune to these types of crimes, areas along major thoroughfares or freeways saw a higher number of reported incidents, as did areas of town with a concentration of large apartment complexes.
During the same time period, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office logged more than 42,000 reported burglaries and thefts combined. Montgomery County records show 18,000 theft and burglary reports during this time and Fort Bend County records logged 7,600 burglary and theft reports.
If there is such a thing as a common factor in these crimes, it's opportunity.
Lt. Tom Libby with the Oak Ridge North Police Department, near The Woodlands, said most crooks look for the easiest targets.
“We've even found front doors unlocked. People just go off to work and forget to lock the front door,” Libby said.
While that last point sounds obvious, Libby said to consider that when it comes to home break-ins, crooks do favor a certain time of day.
“Usually (the) hours of 8 in the morning till 5 in the afternoon,” Libby said, when most people are at work and kids are in school.
Libby said the goal is to try to make your house look occupied when you’re not home.
Libby said to make sure mail and newspapers are picked up regularly, and to keep the lawn cut. He said this is especially important during certain times of year when people tend to take vacations. He recommends having neighbors or family members collect your mail, newspapers and to bring in trash cans when you’re out of town.
Libby also suggests possibly leaving a light or TV on during the day. He said the same advice applies to cars parked on the street.
One neighborhood near Humble is active on social media when it comes to reporting thefts and other suspicious activities. Watch the video above to see how this neighborhood is fighting back against home and car break-ins.
Check out a map of the burglaries below.
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