GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. – The police department is warning residents about an uptick in car break-ins where the crooks steal the garage door opener in hopes of getting a bigger prize.
That’s what happened to John, who didn’t want us to use his last name, around late May.
"I came out of the house,” he said. "And the garage was partway open is how I found it."
Partway open after someone got into his SUV, parked in the driveway.
"I forgot to lock it. Once they were in the vehicle they used the garage door opener to get into the garage as well as my wife's vehicle as well, in the garage,” he said.
The crooks left their old bike and traded up by taking an $800 one, he told KARE 11.
"I was pretty upset,” he said.
He’s not alone. Police said it’s a common mistake.
And another couple not far away from him reports a similar crime.
"It's kind of nerve-racking,” said Doug, who also didn’t want his last name published in fear the thieves could come back.
Someone broke into a family member’s car, which was parked outside his home. He said they then stole the garage door opener. But they didn't steal anything inside.
"It's really scary to know that someone could take something and what if we didn't know our garage door opener was taken. They could have come back later when we're gone,” said Helen, Doug’s girlfriend.
"There has been a lot and we've seen an increase in just the last month,” added Det. Jen Sleavin with the Golden Valley Police Department.
She said the uptick isn't unusual for this time of the year, but since the city is pretty safe people are getting complacent. She added people are either leaving cars unlocked or garage doors open.
"We've had a couple occasions where people have left an extra pair of keys in their vehicles, and so those cars have been stolen,” she said.
And it’s not just Golden Valley experiencing these crimes of opportunity. Other departments have reported similar activity, including Edina and Minneapolis.
GVPD is reminding people to stay vigilant.
And John is heeding their warning, adding more security to his garage door, and making sure his vehicle is locked.