Garage burglaries were up 50% in Huntington Beach in the first half of this year, and police have issued a detailed warning to residents about how to better protect themselves.
"In the first six months of 1991, a total of 380 garage burglaries were reported. This is up 50% compared to the same time last year," said Suzie Wajda, an education specialist with the Huntington Beach Police Department.
"Many people lock doors and windows but then go off forgetting to lock their garages. People somehow think their garages are not vulnerable."
Wajda said that an unlocked garage that is attached to a house allows a burglar to enter and then to make an assault on the rest of the house. "Once inside the garage, the thief can work all day to get in your house without being seen by your neighbors," she said.
In June, of 123 residential burglaries in the city, 73 were entries through garages, most of which were unlocked at the time, according to police.
Wajda also said that leaving garage doors open and unlocked, even when the resident is home, can be dangerous.
"While a resident is in his back yard, a thief can rush in the garage in front and steal a bicycle or something else," she said. "The best thing to do is to keep your garage door locked if you're not in the immediate area."
Here are some suggestions police made for preventing garage burglaries:
* Use a bicycle chain and padlock to secure bicycles to something solid in the garage. Lock bicycles after use.
* If a garage door is wider than 16 feet, use hasps and padlocks on both sides. Padlocks should be made of hardened steel and a thick neck that will resist bolt cutters. Hasps should be of hardened steel and installed with carriage bolts through the door.
* Another valuable item is a bolt-guard, a steel box with an access opening at the bottom. It attaches over the garage-door bolt, preventing anyone from prying off the padlock or bolt itself.
* Doors leading into the residence from the garage should be protected. Doors should be of solid wood, with a 1-inch deadbolt lock. If the door has exposed hinge pins, they should be replaced with non-removable hinge pins.
* Garages with automatic door openers can be protected with a new device called a "gravity drop automatic dead bolt" that is activated through a remote control. The device can be purchased at many hardware stores.