Thieves are pulling garage door openers from cars parked in the driveways of west metro suburban homes, using them to open the garage and gain access to homes, the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office warned Wednesday.
Authorities called on residents in Eden Prairie, Maple Grove, Minnetonka, Edina, St. Louis Park, Bloomington and neighboring communities to be careful, saying data from a recent spike of home burglaries indicates thieves appear to be gaining access into homes from attached garages using a variety of techniques, including simply pressing the button on garage door openers inside the parked cars.
They're also entering through an already open garage door or kicking in an exterior garage service door. Once in the garage, they gain entrance to the home through a connecting door.
"Once the thieves have access to a home, they will target small, yet highly valuable items such as cash, wallets, purses, and jewelry," the sheriff's office said in a statement, adding, "In several instances, homeowners did not initially realize they had been the target of a home burglary due to the lack of evidence of a forced entry.
The break-ins are happening at all times day and night, when homeowners are home and away.
The department offered these tips:
• Always lock your vehicles when parked in a driveway or garage.
• Do not leave your garage door openers visible in your vehicles.
• Lock exterior service doors to garages, reinforce service doors with security bars or deadbolts if possible.