It’s that time of year again — basking in the heat of Arizona.
You open the windows, doors and garage; leave the golf clubs and the bicycle in the driveway. You take off for vacation.
And make yourself a perfect target for what some police call "warm-weather crime."
"There’s a definite link," said Mark Ruffennach, crime prevention officer with Scottsdale police. "People become more lax."
As the temperatures rise, so do the number of burglaries, trespasses and thefts — and it will increase throughout the summer, said Frank Aguilera, a crime prevention officer with Tempe police.
A recent Tempe police study showed that 78 percent of these crimes did not involve forced entry. Eight out of ten of the crimes could have been prevented, Aguilera said.
"We live in such a busy, hectic world," Ruffennach said. "We need to think about ourselves. We need to take time to lock doors and windows."
The consequences can be very serious.
On March 16 in Tempe, a 37-year-old registered sex offender walked through an unlocked front door and tried to assault a 22-year-old woman, police said, but a male roommate chased him away. About 45 minutes later, the same offender came through an unlocked window at the residence and sexually assaulted a 21-year-old woman, police said. The man was eventually arrested and charged.
Ninety percent of burglars lives in residents’ own neighborhoods, Ruffennach said.
In Gilbert, kids being out of school for the summer beginning in May seems to be an issue with the increase in problems for police, said Kim Kelly, crime prevention specialist for Gilbert police.
"It seems that with the warmer weather and with kids being out of school, the number of calls for service increases," said Mesa police Sgt. Ruben Quesada.
During the summer, many kids are left at home unattended, said Lindy Marino, crime prevention specialist for the Mesa police department.
Kids will run around, ride bikes and be very active, which can lead them to cause trouble.
"They’re going to be restless," Marino said.
Crime prevention tips
• Leave front doors locked at all times. Purchase and install a ventilated steel security door. The door often has a double-sided key lock and may eliminate forced entry as long as it is locked.
• Make sure windows are locked or secured with a dowel or other feature if partially open. Use window coverings so that people are not able to see what valuables are inside or who is at home.
• Garage doors should be closed at all times, even while at home or someone is working in the back yard. It only takes a few seconds for someone to steal a bike or golf clubs, or enter your home.
• Keep rear or side gates locked at all times.
• Schedule a home security survey with any of the East Valley police departments’ crime prevention units. An officer will typically evaluate what security insufficiencies exist and give recommendations on security devices and strategies to help deter crime. It usually takes about 30 minutes.
• Start a Neighborhood Watch or Blockwatch. "Neighbors watch out for one another and are able to tell if something is suspicious or not," said Gilbert police officer Kim Kelly.